Akshay Vaitha

My diagnosis of celiac disease was not an easy one. When I was around 3 years old, I remember being tired all the time and not being able to join in with general activities with other children at my school. I would often sit in one place, and my teachers or parents did not know what was wrong with me. In 1997 maybe doctors were not as aware of celiac disease as they are nowadays. However, after many blood tests, hospital appointments, and lots of missed lessons at school, the doctor finally gave me a diagnosis.

I do not remember the fine details, but I know that it took a long time for the doctor to figure out that I had celiac disease. Shortly after the diagnosis, and closely following the celiac diet, I did start to feel better though and join in with activities with the other children at my school. Yes, it was a struggle at first, and I maybe wasn’t feeling 100% until after a few years, but I was grateful that I had the support of my school, friends, and family.

That is still one of the most important things for me; having that support network when you have celiac disease makes such a huge difference.

Without the local groups, social media groups, and understanding from friends and family, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. My advice would be to try and find support wherever possible and find people who actually understand that celiac disease is a serious condition and don’t just treat it as a fad diet.

I remember when I was young, I would eat a lot of junk and processed food as I did not know what I could or could not eat. Nowadays, I am aware that a lot of fruit and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Learning how to cook my own meals has been very beneficial too. I have also learned that being a celiac doesn’t have to be a negative thing, there are so many tremendous health benefits from having a gluten-free diet, and there are lots of delicious and nutritious foods you can enjoy.