Mental Health Impacts of a Gluten-Free Lifestyle
Gluten is in what feels like everything! Overhauling your lifestyle and living a completely new one overnight is bound to have an impact on mental health. And that’s what happens when you’re diagnosed with celiac disease. You get the diagnosis and are expected to live gluten-free 100% of the time from that point on, talk about overwhelming.
Basically, a gluten-free lifestyle is not a walk in the park. In fact, studies show that sticking to a gluten-free diet (or living gluten-free) can feel more burdensome than lifestyle treatments for other common conditions. A gluten-free lifestyle can be so burdensome that researchers found that non-adherence can be a serious problem in those diagnosed with celiac disease.
So you can see why there might be some mental health impacts stemming from just trying to manage a gluten-free lifestyle.
Exactly how does a gluten-free lifestyle impact mental health?
It can trigger feelings of:
- Social isolation – because so many social events involve food, food that we can’t often eat.
- Stress – because there are so many things to consider when it comes to living gluten-free.
- Overwhelm – because overhauling your life is a lot.
- Fatigue – whether it be related to gluten exposure or due to adapting to a completely new way of living.
- Depression – this can be due to a lot of things, like the other triggered feelings. I know I mourned the foods I couldn’t enjoy anymore for a while.
- Restriction – because living gluten-free means you need to adapt a lot of things to be safe.
- Loneliness – because again, food is so deeply rooted in our social culture but also because it might feel like no one understands.
- Distrust – due to fear of gluten exposure.
- Anxiety – again, likely related to gluten exposure
- Loss of confidence
Any restrictive diet can have a negative impact on mental health. Living gluten-free is not easy and takes up a lot of headspace, especially in the beginning. If you’re struggling with mental health impacts of living gluten-free, know that it gets less hard.
Coping with the mental health impacts of a gluten-free lifestyle
Since we know this lifestyle can have these impacts, we also know there are some things we can do to cope with them.
Finding and accessing support for your new lifestyle can be incredibly beneficial in easing celiac disease and mental health impacts. In fact, studies show that when people are supported they are more likely to have higher quality of life scores. This means that when people following a gluten-free lifestyle have solid support, they are more likely to feel less burdened. If they feel Less burdened, they are likely to stay gluten-free and enjoy their life more.
If you need help finding support, check out the blog post I wrote all about ways to find gluten-free lifestyle support.
We know that a gluten-free lifestyle can come with a wide array of mental health stressors. Stressors that can quickly empty our cups. We can’t pour from an empty cup which is why it’s so important that we are filling it so that we can better handle the stressors thrown our way. This is where self-care comes in. How do you fill your cup you ask? Self-care.
If you need some self-care inspiration check out this post or sign up for my email list below to get my FREE self-care routine workbook.
Journaling is a form of self-care that I thought deserved its own section. I wrote a whole blog post on celiac disease and journaling, featuring some celiac disease-focused journal prompts, for a reason. Why? Because journaling can be a powerful tool to help you cope. Definitely consider it if you’re struggling!
How have you been coping with the mental health impacts of a gluten-free lifestyle? Let me know in the comments. I’ve been trying to journal and make more space for self-care.