gratitude and celiac disease - why it's important + 10 ways to practice it

Gratitude and celiac: you might be wondering, what in the world do that two have to do with each other? Or you might be curious about how you can harness the power of gratitude for celiac.

Or you might just be burnt out by all the talk of gratitude because everyone talks about it, and is it really that important? Or maybe gratitude is just hard, especially when you’re in the thick of it with a celiac diagnosis.

First, let me say, I didn’t dedicate an ENTIRE week of journal prompts in the Celiac Wellness Journal for nothing. Gratitude can be a powerful tool in a celiac’s toolkit. 

Second, gratitude can be a powerful form of self-care, and we all know self-care is important when you have celiac disease.

Not saying it’s going to fix all (or any) of your problems, but gratitude can definitely help with them.

So let’s talk about gratitude and celiac disease. In this post, I’m going to share with you the science and benefits behind gratitude, how those benefits translate to celiac, and how to harness these benefits.

What is Gratitude

In a 2010 study on Gratitude and Well-being defined gratitude as “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself. It represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation”.

In plain words, it’s being thankful for the things that you value. Or it’s just being thankful in general.

I like to think of Gratitude as a powerful was of reframing or refocusing. For example, when I am having a bad body image day I refocus by listing 3 things I am thankful my body has or does do for me.

Another example, when a result of certain actions isn’t what I want it to be, I still thank myself for making the effort. Instead of telling myself, “I should have done more”, I tell myself, “thank you for trying your best”.

Just based on the discussion of what is gratitude, you might already see some of the benefits but let’s dive deeper into them.

The Benefits of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude has not be researched too much, but the research we do have says a lot about it’s potential. Some benefits cited in research include:

I could go on.

How the benefits of gratitude apply to celiac disease

It’s great that gratitude can help with all of these things, so how do we apply it to living with celiac? How can these benefits help someone with celiac? Let’s break it down.

a more optimistic outlook on life with celiac disease

An increased positive outlook on life paired with better life satisfaction and higher happiness have great potential to improving the lives of people with celiac. More specifically, these benefits of gratitude have the potential is improving overall quality of life of people with celiac.

Why? Because quality of life scores are often low for people with celiac, especially if they are hypervigilant about staying gluten-free. People with celiac are often citing the many adaptations they must make to live gluten-free safely as a huge part of their treatment burden and overall quality of life.

Practicing gratitude to refocus (but not discredit) some of the burdens of celiac could be a powerful tool in addressing some of the weight of these burdens. And perhaps, gratitude might be what many people with celiac are overlooking when it comes to a gluten-free lifestyle.

It could help take away some of the power and weight of how we have to adapt. Some examples of what this might look like:

  • Going from “I hate that I can’t eat anything served at this party” to “I am thankful that  bringing my own food allows me to be here safely enjoying the party”.
  • Switching “I hate being the center of attention at events that involve food” to “I am grateful that the people around me care enough to check-in with me on what’s going on”.
  • Switching “I don’t like having to pack food every time I leave the house” to “I grateful for the gluten-free options available that allow me to pack yummy food”
  • Switching “I am so exhausted and tired of reading every food label for safety at the grocery store” to “I am thankful I have all of these gluten-free options to review in-store now”

Now don’t get me wrong, these things suck and sometimes you just have to sit in the suck and grieve your old ways. But it’s important that we don’t get stuck in the suck and perhaps, noticing the things that you can be grateful for can help.

Improved relationships surrounding celiac

Now let’s talk about how improved relationships through gratitude can help with celiac disease.

When food is such a huge part of our culture and socialization, it naturally can stress our relationship. Afterall, our entire dynamic of socialization has changed. We go from just showing up to a party and enjoying food/drinks with others to planning and bringing our own food and communicating more intensively with the host.

And when so many people’s expression of love is through sharing food, it’s natural to feel a strain in the relationship when you can’t enjoy that food anymore.

Not to mention, adapting to a gluten-free lifestyle often takes a lot of support from the people around you, which can further stress relationships. Now the effort level to show up for you is much higher.

And these are just some of the ways that celiac doesn’t just impact the person with celiac, but also the people around them.

 

So what if gratitude helped reduce some of the tension in your relationships and helped foster more supportive and strong ones?

After all, gratitude plays a special role in relationships.

So how can we practice gratitude to help build stronger relationships? Consider the following:

  • Don’t burn bridges of trust immediately after a loved one slips up – and by this I mean give your loved ones a chance to feed you again (and give yourself permission to be fed by others). Just like you’ve made mistakes along your journey, your loved one’s can’t be expected to perfect either. How can you work with your loved ones so that they can support you? So you can foster trust in your needs?
  • Write thank you letters to people who have tried to accommodate you (even if the accommodations fell flat). They tried, and just as it took you a moment to get the hang of what you’re doing, it’s going to take them a minute to get the hang of accommodating you.
  • Sincerely express thanks to the people around you supporting you. Seriously, it goes a long way. While you are the focus when it comes to celiac, they are also impacted, and they stuck around. Thank them for that. Thank them for the little things they do to support you. Like asking to meet for coffee instead of dinner, or asking what they can buy for you to eat their party.
  • Share with the people around you what their support means to you. Similar to telling them thank you, tell them what that support means to you. How it impacts you. 

It’s exhausting living with celiac, and it can feel overwhelming supporting someone with celiac. Show your loved ones that you see them trying and that you are grateful. Keep kindling that trust and intimacy in sharing your gluten-free life.

Gratitude Practices for Celiac

I mentioned a few ways to practice gratitude for celiac disease above, but let’s talk about some other ways. After all, there are other ways of practicing gratitude on top of looking at burdens through a lens of gratitude and nurturing gratitude in your relationships.

You might also practice gratitude with celiac by:

  • Journaling about the things you are grateful for
  • Thinking about the things you are grateful for
  • Meditating on the things you are grateful for
  • Writing/sending/delivering “Thank You” notes to people
  • Making a habit to thank the people you work with, regardless of the outcomes of your work
  • Making a habit to check-in with and thank yourself

Gratitude is Powerful

If there is anything you’ve learned from this post, I hope that it is that gratitude is powerful. It might feel hard, especially if you are in the thick of it with your diagnosis, but it can be possible.

Share with me in the comments, how you practice or want to practice gratitude.

Get my Journal