coeliac disease : a new diagnosis

A few days ago I was given an official diagnosis of coeliac disease. It didn’t come as a huge surprise – blood work from a few months ago gave a strong indication – but it still feels quite strange and a bit sad to be sitting with the news and preparing to start on a new path. My only obvious symptom was persistent low iron (I had my first iron infusion in August) so I’m thankful for a GP who wanted to get to the root cause of the issue. Unfortunately I had to have an endoscopy and a colonoscopy which required a rather unpleasant preparation process. I’m really glad to be on the other side of that. 

Now I read every label closely, my most googled question is: “is xyz gluten free?” and I’m probably like every other newly-diagnosed coeliac; in awe and rather alarmed at the prevalence of gluten in food. I’m the first to admit that I know very little and yet I’m also very aware of my privilege; I have access to whole foods, I can afford them and I know how to cook them. That said, I’m not sure I have the mental space right now to embrace a gamut of new recipes so I’m just focusing on the basics – meat, fruit + veg, nuts, seeds and legumes – and will get a bit more experimental in the new year. I also have to be careful of cross contamination in my own kitchen so I’m buying a new chopping board, will have my own jar of peanut butter (bread crumbs always end up in there) and will generally be very mindful of shared utensil and surfaces. I can see now why a gluten-free household makes sense although it would significantly affect the way I feed the family and the cost of my weekly groceries. One step at a time.

It is times like these when suggestions on social media and lovely messages of encouragement really do make a big difference. I’ve just purchased My Darling Lemon Thyme’s new book and I’m so comforted by Low Tox Life’s newly released book, Food (Alexx wrote the endorsement quote that features on the cover of my book so I feel particularly indebted to her now). I’m also having a zoom consult with my friend Stacey Clare who has more energy than anyone I know and is so passionate about GF cooking and ferments. So yes, here I am with the utmost privilege and access to a host of resources and yet I still feel a little unsettled by my diagnosis. I think it may be the fact that it’s a diagnosis – a problem – more than anything. But on the flip side, I’m grateful it can be treated with diet and not medication. Perspective, hey.

It’s so nice to be back in this space, to be writing and communicating with you but to also be thinking about writing and becoming aware of a change in my thought patterns; in what I observe and take note of. And I’m always reminded that even on the busiest days in the most stressful times, there really is good all around. 

I’ve spent most of this week preparing for my procedure then recovering from it which gave me the perfect opportunity to indulge in new books and new shows. I just finished Helen Garner’s final instalment of her diaries How To End a Story and then I listen to her on The First Time Pod and it was such a rich, layered, inspiring conversation that I plan to return when I’m out walking just in case I missed any tidbits of creative gold. Claudia Karvan’s new show on iview Books That Made Us is brilliant (arm yourself with a notebook and pen, you’ll be reserving all the titles at your local library) and I absolutely adore Tassie-based Analiese Gregory in her series A Girl’s Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Wild Cooking. If I didn’t already live on the Apple Isle, I’d be moving here, stat. 

I hope you’ve had a restful weekend. It definitely takes more consideration at this time of year to prioritise rest, doesn’t it. I’m just about to get a roast chicken out of the oven and I’ll eat it with potatoes and kumera and a big salad (GF, of course). 

I’m sending our frequent (but not too frequent) newsletters so make sure you’re subscribed over here. And thank you so much to those of you who have pre-ordered my book, it is just so exciting to know it will be on its way to you in under 8 weeks. Pre-orders really do help the success of a new book, especially from a first-time author, so I’m incredibly grateful. 

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