When I count my blessings, I think about my beautiful family, the friends that I’ve made along the way, the air I breathe, and having been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Wait, what? Yes, I count this diagnosis as one of the things that God has used for my own good, and I’ll tell you why…
Last year during my first trimester of pregnancy I started having some. . .cough, cough. . .rather uncomfortable digestive issues. Well-intentioned people kept telling me that when a woman gets pregnant, the body tends to go a little crazy, and that for sure there was nothing to be worried about.
However, I had this feeling in the deepest part of me, telling me that there was something that wasn’t working properly in my body. To make this long story short, after much research and talking to different professionals, I was finally seen by this wonderful holistic doctor who gave me the answer to some of the horrible symptoms I was experiencing.
I had Celiac Disease.
Maybe this is not a big deal to you. We hear the word Celiac and “gluten-free” carelessly thrown around. We see many restaurants with gluten free menus, and supermarket aisles full of flours, baking mixes, pastas, and a thousand more products labeled as gluten free.
The problem with this is that I’m not an expert, but I don’t consider myself a newbie in the real food world, either. For instance, when we have guests over, there’s always a head or two peeking into my fridge as if it was some kind of laboratory. Hands point at different things, “What is that?”- insert face of disgust. “That’s a kombucha scoby”, “Yes, those are bones and we use the marrow”. I get looks ranging from fascination to plain disgust.
But back to my story.
I’m passionate about healthy living and eating nutrient dense food. I’m a firm believer that cutting out processed food leads to a better health, and therefore helps you avoid autoimmune disorders.
I also know that Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that contrary to how lightly it’s been taken, can cause damage in the lining of the small intestine. Having Celiac, can lead to other health problems like Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, and others, including miscarriage if not properly treated (source).
The benefits having an autoimmune disease has given me
Up to then, I didn’t see the blessing that having a condition like this was. I probably had failed. “I wasn’t doing enough” was my thought. However, as days and months went by, I realized that this statement wasn’t completely true, and that this was a blessing in disguise.
- It has humbled me. It’s taught me that I could do some things, but that I’m not completely in control. I would pray every night, knowing that I was carrying another life inside of me, and that only the Giver of Life could keep her safe.
- It helps me focus on eating good, wholesome food. Since I believe that gluten is not the only one to blame here, I’m more motivated about focusing on nutrient-dense foods. This is mainly pasture raised meats and organic fruits and vegetables as a base in my diet.
- It gives me a more “socially acceptable argument” to avoid eating processed food. The reality is that sometimes when you decline something by simply saying you’re choosing to avoid processed foods, you get weird looks. However, when you use the word ‘Celiac’ and ‘allergies’, people tend to be more accepting. Personally I think that both arguments are valid, but for some reason, it seems like deciding to not eat junk isn’t acceptable enough and can even be offensive for some people.
- This experience has taught me to trust your gut. That little voice that’s telling you there’s something going on, is probably right. This is an empowering thing, because other people’s opinions should be used as guidance, but ultimately you are the one who knows yourself best. Follow your instinct.
- It has revealed to me the importance of looking deeper and getting educated myself. I learned that certain commercial labels are not enough, that certain opinions are valid arguments but not an absolute truth. Taking care of my own health is my responsibility. As I said before, opinions are valid and valuable, but use them as guidance.
I count my autoimmune disease as a blessing because it helps me to value my health. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be completely healed. Meanwhile though, I use this ongoing experience as a reminder that health is a blessing that I need to thank God for every morning.