Cited in EmpowerHer – Living Happily Without Gluten, National Celiac Disease Awareness Day

empowherLiving Happily Without Gluten,

September 13th was National Celiac Disease Awareness day, and I was contacted to comment about how living without gluten can be a major life adjustment. Turns out, it is very possible to live happily without gluten. To read the full article By Rheyanne Weaver, Click HERE.

Alicia Clark, a licensed clinical psychologist, said in an email that she has a daughter with celiac disease.

“At a time when most of us would reach for our favorite comfort carb, celiac patients have to resist and instead bid farewell forever,” Clark said. “This adjustment is extremely challenging for patients and families alike.”

She said that it’s perfectly normal for people who just received a diagnosis of celiac disease to feel sad, scared and “out of sorts,” because it requires a major life adjustment.

“Try at the same time to focus on the positive aspects of the situation,” Clark said. “For example, the relief you feel of finally having an answer, having a solution, and a non pharmacological treatment.”

Patience is key, since habits take about a month to form, and it can be tough to completely clean out your kitchen, learn new recipes, and find new restaurants.

“Change is hard, but not impossible if you break it into small pieces, build structure, ask for helpful support from family and friends, and stick with it,” Clark said. “One day at a time.”

She said that after about six weeks if you’re still having some issues coping, it could be beneficial to work with a mental health professional.

“If all this seems like too much, take heart but also take action,” Clark said.

“Not only will the diet likely improve your mental health symptoms over time, but just the simple act of taking charge and taking action builds resiliency and self-esteem.”

The 13-year-old daughter of Alicia Clark, said in an email that it was disheartening for her to learn of her diagnosis, since all of her favorite foods contained gluten.

She found out she had the condition after she broke her back, was unable to stay focused in class and felt fatigued. Her mother took her to the doctor and had her get a blood test, which started the diagnosis process.

“I was so upset after I found out that I went downstairs, told myself it was all in my head, and had a regular brownie,” Clark’s daughter said. “But I was just hurting myself.”

She said her parents have helped her cope with the condition by being supportive and buying many gluten-free desserts so she could pick out her new favorites.

She has received support from family and friends, but she said her dog helped her cope a lot with her new diagnosis. Laughing also helps. She has also grown more positive about the condition, especially after finding that most of her favorite foods do have a gluten-free alternative.

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD