What exactly was going through your mind at the time you found out that you had Celiac Disease? When you were told to take medication for the rest of your life to make all your pains go away? Or when you made the conscious decision to go gluten free? What were you thinking the first time you went food shopping, by yourself, to restock your pantry with all gluten free foods? Were you overwhelmed? Scared? Stressed? Excited?
All throughout our lives, we find ourselves surrounded by an array of people that we have something in common with. Whether it’s being part of group at work, a congregation at temple, a sports team, a sorority or fraternity, a church group, or a circle of friends that gets together on a regular basis to play cards, or read the same book or cook meals for one another. We all have the need to be a part of something. To surround ourselves with others that are like-minded. We need to connect on a personal level. This is so necessary, as well, when starting a new lifestyle of any kind. It makes us feel special, and justifies the lack of self-doubt because others are doing the same thing. So, why seclude yourself when you find out you must live a gluten free lifestyle?
This past weekend I attended the Gluten Free For Life Expo in St. Petersburg, FL. I followed the Facebook group for the few months leading up to the event, connected with some people, and did research on the vendors that were going to be there. I even reached out and connected with the woman who put the event together. When I was driving down to the event, I did not expect what I saw while parking the car. The line was already more than half way down the block, and there were people from all walks of life…seniors, children, men and women, and people my age that were just looking for people like them. People that needed to know that they were not alone. People looking for answers, for friends, for groups to be part of that would not only be supportive, but would become a piece of their gluten free life.
It’s very easy to close ourselves off when our lives take a turn in a direction we are not prepared for. We tend to feel sorry for what has become of our lives, when, in reality, this is what is meant to happen. You only have one body, and your body is telling you what you need to do. So why not be the best you can to your body, and be around people to help you do that? People that will help you be successful in this new lifestyle? People that know more than you about being gluten free, people that can offer up advice, recipes, and even people that will put their arms around you and embrace you into their life?
Go out and be part of that community. Become part of the gluten free world that is taking a stand against the way they used to treat their bodies, and making a new way of life for their “new and improved” bodies. Join the forums, go to the expo’s, attend the seminars and be part of the dinner groups that are planning nights where nobody has to feel like they are alone. Nights where you can share your challenges and successes, and listen to what others have to say. Nights, and days, where you can make new friends. You are not alone. There is so much advocacy to show that gluten free is not a fad…but a lifestyle. Be part of it. I promise you that when you are part of it, your new gluten free world will open up and shine so bright.
Here is a list of some upcoming events around the country to possibly attend and be part of:
- USA’s Largest Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo’s: This is a very large list of GF events all over the country at different times.
- Enjoy Life Foods: This company will be a sponsor at many events over the course of the year. Here is a link to some of them.
- Celiac Disease Foundation: This is their national conference in Pasadena, CA.
- Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Events: A list of events is provided for different cities in the country.
Aside from these events, which provide an obscene amount of information and products, look for support groups. They will become a part of your new life that will be priceless.