A couple of weeks ago I was looking through photos to send a before and after shot to ServingCeliacs. She was compiling photos of Celiacs before and after they went gluten free. As I looked through my pictures I reflected on when I decided to go gluten free.
If you have not already read my Celiac Story go check it out. But know that I knew I would have to go gluten free way before I did. My dad and sister lived a gluten free lifestyle years before I joined them. As far as I can tell this is a very unique situation. Because of this I knew so much about Celiac before going gluten free.
One of the things I did know was that often times going on a gluten free diet after a Celiac diagnosis causes weight gain. And when you are a high school girl, that is one of the scariest things ever. I was finally symptomatic and feeling terrible. And I knew a gluten free lifestyle was the solution, but I was so worried about gaining weight. Thinking back on that I am so sad that that is what I was thinking about during that time.
Diet culture made me afraid of gaining weight. Even if it meant I was gaining needed nourishment that I had been lacking. I do not remember exactly what I thought I would lose by gaining weight, but I was scared of it. It’s not like I had all the high school boys trying to date me because I was super thin. I took AP classes and dated a kid on the drum line. Nobody but myself would have cared if I had gained weight. I feel like dance may have perpetuated these feelings. But otherwise I had no reason to be afraid other than diet culture. Diet culture told me any type of weight gain is bad. It told me that being thin is what is socially acceptable.
Diet culture makes people think a lot of things. Things that are not true. But let me tell you, DIET CULTURE SUCKS. And it causes harm to so many people.
There are so many emotions that come along with getting a Celiac diagnosis. You really have to go through a whole lifestyle change. You learn so much about your own body, and what it needs. And you have to learn to trust it again. For most a Celiac diagnosis takes a while. This means you may have been in a lot of pain for a long time. And you relearn what it means to not be in pain after eating! Along with that you also learn a lot about food and that there is somehow gluten in what feels like everything. I will tell you now, gluten is not in everything and you will find so many great products you love, but it may take some time and getting used to. There are so many other things to worry about, please do not worry about some weight gain.
Honestly weight gain in a newly diagnosed Celiac can be a good sign. It is a sign that you are healing. If you do not know gluten damages the microvilli of the small intestines in Celiac sufferers. The microvilli help with absorption of nutrients. When the microvilli are damaged they do not perform at their best, if at all. So when gluten exposure stops the microvilli are able to repair themselves. This allows for more absorption of much needed nutrients. When you are getting nutrients you may not have been getting before you may gain weight. This definitely depends on the individual and how much damage your microvilli sustained along with many other factors.
Like I have said so many times, my situation is pretty unique in that I knew before I went gluten free that more than likely one day I would have to go gluten free. And I was not eating as much gluten as I could have been because of the gluten free options being in my house already. I had a biopsy before I was symptomatic and it showed no damage. But did not receive a repeat biopsy when I became symptomatic. It felt unnecessary and I would have continued to be in pain just to get the expensive test. Because I went gluten free pretty quickly after I became symptomatic I did not immediately gain any weight.
Since then I have gained weight and settled at a pretty consistent point. And I am happy with it, and my body. And I hope you learn to be happy with your body too. On that note I am currently learning all about Intuitive Eating. Some call it the ‘anti-diet’, but ugh I love it. It just makes so much sense to me. Anyways I cannot wait to learn more and tell you guys all about it. I encourage anyone who maybe is always concerned with their weight, or always on a diet to check it out. I think it could change your life for the better!
So if you are newly diagnosed please just don’t be scared of potential weight gain. The joy of living a mostly pain-free life is so much more important than what society says you should weigh. And at this point when you are just learning about living the gluten free lifestyle there are so many other things you should be concerned about. These concerns include things like am I healing my body? How do I explain this to my friends and family? What actions do I need to take to make my kitchen safe? Along with so many others.
Looking back and knowing what I know today, I am so sad for pre-gluten free Alexa. So sad that I was more worried about weight gain than my health. I am so proud of who I am today and how I am advocating for others living with Celiac Disease today.
If you are newly diagnosed please please please just worry about what feels right for your body. Learn about what foods make you feel good, and eat them. Our bodies change over time and with different seasons of our lives. Once you are living a gluten free lifestyle you will feel so good and therefore be so much happier and that should be the real goal. To me the compliment ‘you look so happy’ is so much more meaningful than any compliment about my body. And I hope one day you feel that way too!
Questions for my readers. Did you fear gaining weight when you went gluten free? What is/was your biggest fear when getting your Celiac diagnosis? Let me know in the comments. Also let me know if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you!