The community of those living with celiac disease that I have connected with on Instagram in the last several months has been life giving, encouraging, and super fun. I have been able to form connections with gluten free foodies, food bloggers, moms of kids with celiacs, partners of celiacs, gluten free folks, restaurant owners, brand ambassadors, and all kinds of people in between. It has been a highlight of the last few months for sure! I dreamed of giving back to the gluten free community and finding a way to help when I first got diagnosed, but didn’t know how and quite frankly was too overwhelmed and lazy to do anything about it. And that’s ok. But I am fired up and continually finding myself excited about the world of technology and the possibilities. Seriously, the endless possibilities. The Internet is quite literally evening the playing field for all of us. No more excuses. No more hierarchy in the way we have known it.
As I’ve written about previously, and those that know me well, know that I have been in a season of hyper focusing on gratitude. Every single day. Gratitude. It is what will and does change us from the inside out. It’s too easy to get caught in the negative, the things we don’t have, and the comparison. But gratitude. That’s where your heart changes. That’s where your mind changes. And then your life begins to change. Slowly and steadily, your life unfolds in such a beautiful way that you cannot help but be grateful for the challenges in front of you.
One of my Instagram friends, Courtney (@traveling.glutenfree.mom), started Celiac Strong Chat several months ago as a way for those of us living with celiac disease to connect and help each other out. I had fun designing a very simple picture for the 1st Celiac Strong Chat that we did back in May.
The original idea was to exchange ideas, encourage each other, and gain inspiration while we all try to figure out a life of having to be gluten free, which can be a tad overwhelming at times. The conversations and connections that have come out of this group have been some of my favorite content generated thus far with my involvement in the celiac Instagram community. I’m addicted to deep connections. I will take depth any day to shallow conversation. How’s the weather, what you had for breakfast, and what time you workout are not conversation topics that I can engage in for very long. However, the connection between food and how it makes you feel, how it makes you dream bigger, live bolder, and act more in your life that aligns with your personal goals – now this is something I will talk to you about for hours. The connection between your workout and it giving you the inspiration to make a kick ass proposal that led to your dream job, that is something I would drink three cups of coffee with you over.
So why do I love Celiac Strong Chat so much?
Because the idea (in my head anyways) is deeper connection. Much deeper. It is a way to scratch through the surface level posts that can often be flooding people’s feeds. I want to know what makes your heart alive, what inspires you, and what makes you fired up during your day to day life. What makes you curious? What makes you pause? What makes you blood boil that you can’t help but not doing something about it?
I want to know what pain points you feel as a celiac and how we as a community can support you. I believe whole heartedly in the power of connection.
When I am connected to others and others are supporting me, counting on me, pushing my limits, and believing in me, I do my best work. Hands down. I love Simon Sinek’s teachings on inspiration, optimism, and starting with your why.
“The primary ingredient for progress is optimism. The unwavering belief that something can be better drives the human race forward.” – Simon Sinek
You are your best self when others are cheering you on, fighting for you, and telling you your wildest dreams are in fact possible. It will take blood, sweat, and tears sometimes, but you will without a doubt get there if you want to, and certainly you will get there faster with a tribe of people cheering you on. We want connection. We want inspiration. We want to know that our days matter.
So back to my celiac friend Courtney. She is pregnant with her 3rd child! That being said, she is a tad, or rather, extremely busy! She and her husband have recently returned home from 6 months of traveling around the US, which you can see all about on her Instagram feed. I am taking over the reigns of Celiac Strong Chat for awhile and couldn’t be more thrilled. The time difference between myself (in Korea) and 99% of my other celiac friends that currently participate in the chat is well…extreme. Thank goodness I actually enjoy getting up at 5am or earlier and do so on a regular basis. Insert smiley face and a large cup of my favorite dark roast coffee.
This past weekend I wanted to do a Thanksgiving themed Celiac Strong Chat. Being an expat, we obviously don’t have the traditional Thanksgiving holiday celebrated here in Korea. However, I have plenty of American friends here, so I hosted Friendsgiving on Saturday in my oh I don’t know…400 square foot apartment?! So this past Saturday/my Sunday, we did a Thanksgiving themed Celiac Strong Chat with the theme of turning celiac into a positive, instead of focusing on its limitations. We do a Q and A series where everyone asks a different question, answers their own question, and loops to a small group of people. This week was a bit different and we all asked the same question, which was:
Then each person had to come up with 4 separate reasons they were thankful for celiac. The idea was to really practice your gratitude muscles and get into the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
The answers were super, super fun for me to read! Head to my post to read responses in the loop.
I wanted to compile the list that I personally came up with. I stretched myself to answer on every single post, so a total of 11 reasons. And honestly, there are even more reasons (which is part of why I know that I know that starting each day with gratitude is making a difference in my life).
Here are my 11 reasons I am grateful for my celiac diagnosis, in no particular order:
- Being diagnosed with celiac, has been one of the most life altering events and I am still finding ways it is making my life exponentially richer. 1 enormous reason I am thankful for this disease, is that I no longer spend my life feeling emotionally out of control. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been and am continually recognizing ways gluten played into my depression and emotional volatility. I couldn’t be more grateful for the diagnosis that has quite literally changed (saved) my life for the better.
- I’m thankful for the way going gluten free has made me so much more aware of the food I eat. I ate decently well before, but now since I have to know the ingredients of my food, I’m so much more aware. I read every single label. You have to when you are a celiac, so you learn quickly what you are putting into your body.
- I’m thankful for celiac disease because it has given me answers to the years of constant GI problems that I had. So appreciative to not be sick all the time! Happy to not be on the toilet half the day. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
- I’m thankful for celiac and the platform of Instagram and blogging because it has connected me to some absolutely amazing people! People I would never have known if it weren’t for celiac and gluten free life and for that I’m so grateful! Seriously, the community. The community. It is only beginning and I love it more than I can even express.
- I’m thankful for people that are accommodating to my food restrictions. I’ve found that it’s the little things that go a long way, but I’m so appreciative when someone makes something gluten free, sends me an article, etc. I’ve always gravitated toward intentional and thoughtful people. They are my heart and soul. My tribe. Having an autoimmune disease that doesn’t show up in a way that can be easily seen, the little things truly go a long way. The people that go out of their way to make sure I can eat safely, are absolute gems in my world.
- I’m thankful that although there is no cure (YET) for celiac, we can feel better simply by watching what goes into our bodies. It truly is amazing. I believe one day we will see a cure to celiac, but until then thank goodness for food as medicine!
- I’m grateful for finding an enormous link in my life between my old self and my new self. I truly feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life and starting a website and IG this year has come out of realizing the huge changes that have occurred in me. Although I’ve felt better for over 6 years, it has only been recently that I’ve realized how passionate I am about being an advocate for those with the same struggles.
- I’m thankful that being gluten free continues to make me meal prep and be conscious of what I put into my body. I’ve meal prepped for over 15 years, but now being gluten free AND living in a foreign country that it’s not easy to find GF food many places, I have to be intentional more than ever.
- I’m thankful for doctors testing for this disease in a way that they never did before. I mean so many people can get diagnosed earlier now and save years of agony. This is huge!
- I’m grateful for so much more awareness around celiac! People are talking about it in a way that is so encouraging to see! People don’t actually stare at you blindly anymore when you say gluten free. They actually react and understand.
- I’m thankful for 100% GF places that are popping up like crazy! This is something I am beyond thrilled about and diving into deeper here in the near future. The volume of places that are opening and accommodating makes me giddy. Eating in a safe environment that is not your own kitchen, and that doesn’t force you to take a plane half way across the world. Insert happy dance!
Want to be a part of Celiac Strong Chat in the future? Send me a message and let me know. Interested in collaborating on gratitude and how it is changing you? Send me a message about that too!
I hope that you are able to slowly but surely shift your perspective on how you view your need to be gluten free. Or on how you view whatever limitation seems to be in the way of where you are and where you want to be. I’m more convinced than ever before that mindset is key. Start this Thanksgiving with working your gratitude muscles. Comment below and let me know how it goes or send me a message. Connecting is one of my favorite things on this planet!