Why My List to Santa is Blank – AKA why celiac disease is a gift, and why Bruce Springsteen is a poet.

Dear Santa,
I know this is a little late, but I wanted to give you a heads up. I know you and the reindeer get awfully hot here in South Florida, and I didn’t want to keep you here any longer than necessary.

This year, you can skip my house.

There’s nothing I really “need.” I have the essentials. In fact, I have one gift that you didn’t even have to leave for me.

Thanks for everything over the years,

santa smiley

-I was on my way to work yesterday, and I heard Bruce Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love.” (I was fortunate to be raised by parents who instilled in me an appreciation for a very wide variety of music, which continues today. However, Bruce was my 1st concert-the “Born in the USA” tour. I was 10.) It’s a great song for multiple reasons, but one lyric really stuck with me.

“You gotta learn to live with what you can’t rise above.”

That stuck with me. I know that a new diagnosis of celiac disease of living gluten free can be a challenge-there’s been some chatter about it on Twitter lately too. There’s no doubt that in the beginning it can a bit overwhelming. It’s a new way of thinking, and a new way of eating. There’s a lot of things to sort out and sift through, and a lot of changes to be made.


Living gluten free is all we have to do to manage our symptoms and live healthfully. We don’t have to take medication, undergo surgery, or be subjected to chemotherapy. We just have to be aware of our diets, and make smart choices.

And that is a gift.

Some may disagree with me, feel that it is an inconvenience, a burden, a “why me?” Yes, it’s an inconvenience, and does take a bit of planning or forethought. So take that bit of planning, and take it one step further-to ensure that you are providing yourself with optimal nutrition. With the prevalence of obesity, and the associated diseases/disorders with being overweight and obese (such as diabetes and heart disease amongst many others which I mentioned here in my “Gratitude and Prevention”post, we have the upper hand. We have a built in reason to examine our food choices, and the ability to make smarter ones.

My goal over the next year, and forever, is to help make this idea a bit easier to swallow, and a lot easier to implement. I will be starting an audio podcast, and I am also in the process of revising the free nutrition guide (which you can sign up for at the bottom of this post) to include an audio component. I am enlisting your help for this-what are your biggest challenges when it comes to eating healthful yet gluten free foods? What things would you like more information on? What topics would you like to see me address? What questions would you like answered? Shoot me an email, twitter me,use the contact page, or leave a comment.

Are you going to learn to live with it, or are you going to rise above?

I say rise above. Use this gift to create positive change for yourself.

Be well and Merry Christmas!

Filed Under: celiac diseaseGluten Freemotivation


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  1. JC says:

    Erin, it’s refreshing to read a different viewpoint for a change. Many look at these kind of issues as an absolute detriment to health and life. It’s encouraging to see you deal with such a bad hand in such an awesome manner.

  2. Erin says:

    Thanks JC-I’m a big believer that perception is reality-if we view something as being a burden, it will be. If we turn that perception on it’s head and make it a gift-it will be. A gift is way better than a burden!

  3. Julie says:

    Definitely agree with and share your perspective on Celiac disease. I look at it as a gift for sure! I have a built in excuse at parties for not eating something I don’t want to ;) But also, it forces me to really consider what I want to put in my mouth. I think it’s easier for me, perhaps, because I’ve always been into healthy eating (or at least, I thought I was eating healthy before). This has opened up my eyes to what really is healthy eating haha. It has been a direct reason for my interest in nutrition, and my growing understanding of what my body needs to remain fit and healthy.

    What is a challenge to me is dating!! I do very well when I’m on my own (live by myself) and when I visit family (very understanding!)….but dating can be difficult. So much revolves around eating..and I know an easy answer would be to go on dates that don’t revolve around food. That’s good advice, but sometimes, it’s nice to do the eating out thing. I’m not a high maintenance girl, and don’t like appearing picky at restaurants, if ya know what I mean. Also, people could say, cook dinner for the guy….well that would be good if I was a good cook, but alas, I’m not. Any ideas/advice/comments on this issue? I do go out to sushi without problem and feel comfortable eating that out…that’s a start.

    The other challenging thing is going to big events/traveling…like traveling out of state to a wedding. I was lucky enough to have gluten free meals at the 2 weddings I went to this summer, but sometimes it’s more challenging. Any advice on weddings and things like that?

  4. Erin says:

    Hey Julie!
    Excellent points.
    First off though, with sushi-regular soy sauce can be made with wheat, so heads up on that one.
    For eating out, if at all possible I would try to go to a restaurant that offers a gluten free menu, like Carrabba’s or PFChang’s. It makes it easier than having to go thru quizzing the server and asking a million questions. (I feel the same way-I hate feeling like a pain in the rear at restaurants especially with a group. Most of my friends and certainly my family are accustomed to it now-it’s been quite a few years since I’ve dated! ;)
    If that’s not an option, I look for an option on the menu that appears naturally gluten free, like grilled chicken/breast/fish with veggies or potato/salad, and then advise the server I have a “wheat allergy” (I know it’s not correct but makes it quicker and easier to explain) and they are generally extremely accommodating and helpful. I also think even on a first date it’s totally acceptable and not TMI to tell your date you have some food sensitivities. If they ask, you can explain more. (I would definitely leave out the gory bathroom glutening details.) If he’s worth having around, he’ll understand.

    As far as cooking-you don’t have to be a good cook! Take a look at the post I did recently on the Balsamic Turkey Breast, and the Tips for eating healthfully post. It can be very straightforward, I promise. I’m going to be doing more posts on cooking with methods as opposed to recipes soon.

    Traveling and events are tricky without a doubt. If you can take a cooler and/or a big purse for snacks, that’s always an option. If you can get in touch with the caterer ahead of time I would try to do that. If all else fails, there’s always crudite and salads, but I don’t trust anything else in a buffet unless I can confirm gluten status. Staff is usually very helpful I’ve found though, and is more than willing to ask the chef when I’ve approached them. I always keep a ziploc bag full of protein powder and some nuts in my purse in case of emergency. A gluten free jerky would also be a non-perishable option.
    Hope that helps!

  5. Julie says:

    Thanks!! And yup, I know all about soy sauce (can’t have soy either anyway). I eat my sushi plain :) And I totally always say wheat allergy…just so much easier! Hope you had a good Xmas! (btw I’m caseygirl from the GF forum)

  6. Erin says:

    Oh hey! Thanks for the clarification-nice to see you over here! Hope you had a great Christmas as well! Did you try cooking with your rice protein yet? I have some rice and gemma on the way to experiment with….should be interesting!

  7. Kelly says:

    This is so true! Celiac disease is a gift, an unusual one to be sure, but still a gift.

    Julie, another thing to watch out for is seasoning of any kind. I got cross-contaminated ordering off Outback’s gluten-free menu early on because I didn’t order the steak (or anything else) “dry” with no seasonings. Once I made sure to do that, no issues eating in restaurants!

    Happy New Year everyone!

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