As I learn more about celiac disease and avoiding gluten, I try to inform those around me what's going on so they understand. A friend mentioned to me that she understands food allergies but this is completely unknown to her. That conversation led me to realize that even though I tell people I can't have gluten, they may not understand why. Below is a letter I sent to my close friends last week and I thought I would share it with all of you. I'm sure there is a better way to explain it to friends but this will have to do for now.
Many of you may already know that I have finally figured out what was wrong with my stomach last fall. I have been diagnosed with Celiac disease and am waiting confirmation from a second doctor. This is good news for me because I will not have to be on medicine or under constant care of a doctor. The bad news is that I will need to avoid gluten for the rest of my life. This is similar to an allergy because my body doesn't tolerate the food but reacts very differently. If I ingest gluten there is no immediate fear of anaphylactic shock or a need to use an epi pen though there is the likelihood I will get sick to some extent. Every time gluten enters my system, my stomach is unable to handle it and it has slowly destroyed my stomach. I am eating carefully now and my stomach is healing but any time I eat gluten, even a small amount, it could reverse the healing and result in ulcers and inflamation again.
It will take me some time to adjust to this and to figure out what I can and can't eat and what restaurants I can eat at safely. Please don't be offended if I don't join you out to eat or don't eat anything you have cooked. And please don't think I don't enjoy your company or your food. I'm always up for non food related adventures and events and still want to spend time with all my friends.
How would you explain celiac disease to a friend?