Coping with Celiac Disease: A Therapist’s Perspective
When I was first diagnosed with this disease, I didn’t understand it and struggled to figure it out. Some of you are there now and are looking for help or some of you think you have it figured out but maybe just need to hear something new. I invited Jummy Olawale on my show to talk about the most common struggles associated with celiac disease ( besides the food!).
I’m so glad I decided to do this. Her insight is poignant and dynamic. She really gives inspiration and hope along with tips and suggestions for dealing with this disease. She’s doesn’t have celiac and isn’t a specialist in the disease but really can provide some help for those of us needing help. If you feel out of control or like you lost your footing, this is the perfect place to start.
Here’s a little snippet of what we discuss on the show:
1. What are some coping skills to use when someone goes through a major life change like celiac disease? When everything in your life as you know it, changes in an instant? How do you handle the sense of feeling alone and like a hypochondriac because no one else understands the complexity or the seriousness of the disease?
2. What are some coping skills for handling all these emotions? Sometimes we can have other life issues going on and this is just a huge burden on top of the lemons life throws at us. Especially when you have a bad day and just want to go home, order a pizza and lay around all night.
3. What’s the best way to explain a disease like this to husbands, family, kids and friends? How do you get them on board with helping you instead of constantly minimizing the disease and asking you to just “try a bite because it won’t kill you.”
4. How do you handle the disappointment when family and friends (or your spouse) doesn’t sympathize and isn’t as supportive as you think they should?
5. Marital problems – Handling a non-supportive spouse – what do you do? When your spouse is the only one that understands, how do you find other outlets to cope instead of stressing them all the time.
6. Changing you mindset of food being pleasurable and instead of thinking about it as fuel. People get so upset that they have to eliminate all the things they love that are poisoning them. When they get poisoned, they beat themselves up and get mad at their bodies for betraying them.
On The Air with Pretty Little Celiac is also on iTunes! You can just search “Pretty Little Celiac” and subscribe to it and all the episodes will feed right into your player!
Want to know more about Jummy Olawale?
Jummy Olawale is a dynamic speaker, life coach, Licensed Professional Counselor, Pastoral Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor with extensive international and multicultural life experience and education.
Jummy was born in Nigeria, Western Africa where she lived and attended elementary and secondary school. She migrated to London, England where she completed her High school and college education. She earned her Bachelor of Arts (BA.) degree in Psychology and Natural Science from Canterbury Christ Church University College, Kent. After getting married, she migrated to the U.S. where she now lives with her husband and their two children. Jummy earned her Masters of Arts (MA.) degree in Counseling Ministries from Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
Jummy utilizes narrative therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and motivational interviewing approaches. She specializes in individual, couples, and marriage therapy, multicultural counseling, parenting support, career coaching and life coaching.
It’s funny how time flies and things can change in just a year. Last year around this time, I found myself really starting to struggle with celiac disease. I opened my new business a week after my diagnosis and didn’t really have time to process it or deal with the emotions that come along with a life changing event. I ate the same things over and over because they didn’t upset my stomach and I didn’t have time to find new things to try. The the business started to slow and I didn’t have to spend as much time up there. I’ll admit the slowing of the business probably contributed to my summer depression, just as much as celiac disease.
When I moved into my boyfriend (now husband’s) home 7 years ago, I couldn’t wait to start planting flowers. Ever year I wanted to try a new plant, dig up a new section of our yard and have a beautiful place to call our home. It started with roses. I built this huge rose garden in our yard. At one point, I think I had 17 rose bushes throughout our yard. They were gorgeous… until the beetles came. I did everything I could to try to contain them from eating my flowers but there were too many of them. I found myself outside each night trying to save my precious flowers from these creatures. I tried everything but eventually the beetles won.
I kept only a few roses that I thought I could save but ended up moving on to different plants with better tolerance.
Turns out I made the right decision. I have gorgeous hydrangeas in my backyard that keep growing bigger and better with each year. They love where they are and despite my neglect last summer, they are coming back this year!
My grandmother loved her roses and she had a few in our backyard growing up. I loved them. The very first plant I bought for our backyard was a peace rose and the last rose in my garden is the same rose-bush. Last year was the first year I didn’t tend to it and I’m not sure if it’s going to come back this year. Which makes me sad but also makes me think about our bodies and the cycles of life.
While I was outside pulling weeds, trimming my lavender and cleaning up our flower beds. I looked down at my hand for some reason when I pulled some grass growing under my flowers and noticed my celiac awareness bracelet is also green just like the foliage around me. Spring brings out all the new growth on flowers and trees and of course it got me thinking!
Green is the perfect color for celiac awareness. I’m not sure who thought of it, but it actually is the perfect and symbolic color for our bodies. Isn’t our body just one big perennial garden? Think about it….
Each year our bodies change depending on how well we are nurtured. Gluten are those little beetles that kept coming back to destroy a little bit of my body year after year. It wasn’t until I realized what was causing my perennial garden harm, made adjustments that all the other flowers started to blossom. Once I removed gluten, my mental health improved, my hair and nails are stronger and thicker, my stomach is healing and a million other improvements have been made.
Last year I struggled tremendously with depression throughout the summer. I remember laying on the couch and looking at the beautiful sun shining wondering why I just couldn’t get up and tend to my garden. Looking back, I realize I was actually talking about myself.
I’m excited to finally feel better and breathe the fresh spring air again. I’m thrilled to feel the joy of tending to my flowers and taking care of my home. It’s taken me a long time to get here. A celiac diagnosis or even having to go gluten-free is a major life change. I can’t emphasize this enough that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t figure it out right away but that’s okay. Sometimes trial and error makes the learning more painful but quicker. I can tell you after a gluten poisoning attack, I’m quick to learn that lesson for the future!
Think of your body as a perennial garden. It needs watered, pruned, fertilized, fed and sun to make the perfect condition for beautiful growth. The same is true for the human body. The more time you spend now taking care of your body, the easier it will be as we get older.
Lately I’ve been feeling chained to living a gluten free lifestyle. It’s like a giant, shackled ball is on my ankle following me around everywhere. Even before I started blogging about Celiac and gluten free living, it has been all I think about. Any symptom I have, I wonder if I ate something with gluten. Anytime we go anywhere, I wonder if I can trust the place we are eating to not make me ill. I’m finding myself obsessed with food, obsessed with Celiac…
Not to mention, I feel like a huge burden to others. We just went to a cookout on Friday and they called to see what we wanted to eat. Aaron had to do the whole explanation thing of what I can eat, it’s not just wheat etc…
I ended up eating before we went over there and picking up a fruit bowl to take with some Woodchuck Cider Ale so I wouldn’t be tempted with snacks or be hungry the whole night.
I realize there are people with bigger problems than I have right now, but for me this is a huge hill I’m still learning to climb. My choices are so limited and I’m already a picky eater so it makes it even more difficult for me to find foods to enjoy. Between the gluten allergy, latex allergy and lactose intolerance problems – I’m struggling. Even more so than I ever have in the past and I think it’s because I’ve become more aware, more diligent of my problems. Specifically now that I’ve been diagnosed with these ailments and know what’s going on.
I’m one of those people that have to understand everything. My friend Janine always jokes with me (and gets annoyed I’m sure) because I ask her “why” all the time. I’m the kid that loved to learn. My grandfather used to teach me lessons on the drive to school and always made sure I was ahead of my grade with reading, writing and arithmetic! So, why can’t I figure this thing out??
Did you know that 3 out of 4 women suffer from disordered eating in one way or another? That was a study done in 2008…. Can you imagine what the statistics are now with social media growing so large – giving access to so much information to so many people?
75 percent of women report disordered eating behaviors or symptoms consistent with eating disorders; so three out of four have an unhealthy relationship with food or their bodies
67 percent of women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) are trying to lose weight
53 percent of dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight
39 percent of women say concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their happiness
37 percent regularly skip meals to try to lose weight
27 percent would be “extremely upset” if they gained just five pounds
26 percent cut out entire food groups
16 percent have dieted on 1,000 calories a day or fewer
13 percent smoke to lose weight
12 percent often eat when they’re not hungry; 49 percent sometimes do
Everything I learned about nutrition for the past 4 years is wrong.
All the tools I used to lose weight, probably made me even more ill and could potentially cause numerous problems with me as I get older.
A Penn State University study found that women with controlled celiac disease, eating a gluten free diet – are still more likely to suffer from stress, disordered eating and depression.
As a fitness expert, the more I learn about wheat, gluten and GMO’s I question how I can still promote and recommend these items to my clients.
My hormones are so out of whack that I try to work my ass off – only to build NO lean muscle – just gain weight or stay the same. I never understood why I did everything “right” and it didn’t work. Well, my TSH levels were off the chart, I suffered from low testosterone levels and I consumed gluten at an extra-ordinary rate! No wonder I didn’t feel well despite being “healthy.”
You can imagine how frustrating this is for a fitness professional to try so hard and not get the body the others have. To obsess over what you are putting in your mouth, doing the right things, only to have your body rebel. It’s the same feeling to have a hair dresser with horrible hair or a foot model with warts!
Now my body is running the show and I have no control. I finally know what is wrong but there is still this part of me that still feels like this is temporary and I will be able to go back to eating regular foods anytime now.
I work about 10-12 hours/day 6-7 days per week and I don’t have time or want to learn new recipes or foods. I want things to be quick and simple. I’m fortunate to have a husband that doesn’t mind cooking, but often I feel guilty when he works the same as I do and then ends up cooking.
Today I realized I’ve developed a Disordered Eating habit. I’m only eating things that are quick and easy. I’m not getting enough protein and whole foods in my diet. I’m consuming too many snacky type foods. To put this in perspective and be totally honest – I ate a half a bag of Popcorners, 3 gluten free cookies, 2 gluten free soft pretzels, a gluten free cider ale and some Kefir smoothie with my vitamins. I’m self admitting here, hoping it will wake me up or you can give me some support to lift my head up and eat some meat!
There is a difference between happy and healthy or skinny. I’d much rather be happy and healthy but am struggling to put the pieces together.
I will figure this out….
Last night I had a great balanced meal! Salmon, green beans and purple jasmine rice!! I need to stay committed to these types of meals and eat them throughout the day instead of just dinner.
Am I crazy? Do you suffer from any of these? Leave me a comment and let me know!!