Sarah’s Unconditional Acceptance of our “New Normal”

celiac acceptance

This is Ben’s Gluten-Free Love Story…

When I was diagnosed with celiac about 5 years ago, my girlfriend and I had been together for about 5 years, but we had just moved in together a few months before. I’d always had a “sensitive tummy” ever since I can remember; everything I did or considered doing was examined through the lens of my digestive system. There were plenty of times when I committed to something and backed out last minute because my stomach might act up on me. I managed to function well, but I was in a constant battle with my stomach.

Sarah knew about my issues, but she did not know the extent of it — how much my stomach ran my life. I hid it very well. However, at that point 5 years ago, I was having constant horrible acid reflux, which finally drove me to see a doctor. After several failed attempts to control it with medication, my GI doc at the time ordered an endoscopy, the results of which (along with an antibody test) revealed celiac. I had no idea what gluten or celiac were, and my Doc at the time had a less than desirable bedside manner; she basically said, “You have celiac disease, can’t eat gluten for the rest of your life…bye.”

I was relieved, but also petrified — what the hell was celiac anyways? Sarah, who is an ICU nurse, helped me understand what I’d been doing to my body all these years (I have a PhD, but it’s in social psych; no help in this case!). But maybe more strikingly, Sarah immediately, without my prompting, told me that our entire house would now (and forevermore) be gluten free. What a proposition! Literally the day I find out that this will be my — our — life for the next (hopefully many, many) years, she says “I support your health so much that I don’t care about giving up all of these things we’ve eaten for our whole lives.”

That night, we began the slow, sometimes painful process of learning how to read labels, at first online and then at Whole Foods. We purged everything that had gluten in it from our house, made a grocery list, and went to the store — where we probably spent two hours and $500+. I have been fortunate to receive a tremendous amount of support in my life, from my parents, graduate school advisors, and many others. But Sarah’s unconditional acceptance of our “new normal” was the most supportive thing anyone has ever done for me. Her support has changed our relationship for the better; we will celebrate our 10th anniversary in March, and plan on marrying next year.

Every day presents new challenges, but the support that Sarah as given me, from the day of diagnosis onward, has prompted me to make many changes in my relationship with food and my digestive system. I have been in acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy for over two years; I feel more “normal” now than I have in many years. I still have shitty days (don’t we all, especially celiacs?), but there are a helluva lot more good ones than bad. The way in which Sarah supported me is something that I will cherish and remember forever. I get teary writing about it now.


Many thanks to everyone for sending in your Gluten-Free Love Stories so far. While February is officially the “month of love”, I’d like to think that we can celebrate love all year round. So keep those stories coming. Click here to submit your gluten-free love story.

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7 thoughts on “Sarah’s Unconditional Acceptance of our “New Normal””

  1. Nice. My Katy is just like that as well – she moved in and is completely on board with the gluten free kitchen, and is a complete wizard in the GF cooking and baking stakes. She still eats (what is for me) forbidden fruit when we go out, but I think i’d be both sides of a horses ass if I expected her to be GF outside the house as well. 🙂

    either way, a toast to all the uber-supportive other halves out there!

  2. My husband did the same, and he gets really excited every time he figures out how to make a gluten free version of something I used to enjoy. He never eats anything with gluten when we go out because he feels bad enjoying something in front of me that I can’t have. I was like, where did you come from? I don’t at all expect or ask him to do any of this, in fact I’ve encouraged him to eat or drink anything he wants, so when he goes out with a friend he’ll have regular beer sometimes. It’s really amazing to have such support.

  3. I was out one night so husband was on his own for dinner. When I came home I asked him what he ate. “Pasta” So my next question was “OK, what in the kitchen has gluten on it?” The answer – nothing, it was g-f pasta. What a nice guy! Even when I’m not around he eats gluten-free.

    1. You are one lucky lady! My hubby still does not “get” the cross contamination issue even after 10 years.

  4. My only thought to these non-celiac spouses, you are indeed angels for doing what you do— just please- remember to brush your teeth and rinse out your mouth before kissing your celiac spouse! Many do have reactions to things like a spouse having a regular beer or a piece of pizza. Yes, it is possible! I am quite sure there are other spouses wondering if these angels have clones as they do not get this kind of support.

    1. This is true. My husband is very supportive of me having Celiac and gets it 200%. For me the cross contamination is just as bad as ingesting gluten, soy, dairy, etc. thank god he gets it, as many others don’t.

      Cheryl Penn

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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