Carrie Veatch is a celiac warrior, currently living in Hanoi, Veitnam. She has been fighting celiac disease for over 7 years, is an active member of the Nima community, and an avid traveler. You can follow her on her Instagram (@forglutensake) or check out her website (forglutensake.com).
What’s your food identity?
I have celiac disease and was diagnosed over 7 years ago. Like many, I was misdiagnosed and unable to find answers for years.
I started having massive GI issues, intense migraines, being exhausted all of the time, and having uncontrollable acne when I was probably 12 or 13 years old. I was insanely active as a kid, but would spend time between games at tournaments on the toilet. Always.
After I moved to Denver about 8 years ago, I had a round of strep throat and mono that was the sickest I had ever felt in my entire life. Thankfully, my new doctor diagnosed me with celiac disease within a short amount of time and my life has never been the same since. All of my above symptoms went away fairly quickly, and the biggest change that I didn’t even know how to put into words until recently was the change in my mental health. I struggled deeply in more ways than I can name with depression, anger, emotional volatility, and believing I would never heal. As soon as I healed my gut, I finally healed. I truly became a different and much happier person. My background is in the mental health field, and this is a space I will continue to do my part to bring awareness to this subject. There is a huge link between gut health and mental health and I am grateful that more people are starting to talk about our gut as the “second brain.”
How do you maintain your food identity?
I try to eat as many naturally gluten-free foods as possible like fruits, veggies, and meats. I always have snacks on me regardless of whether I am flying Internationally or traveling across town. I have grown tremendously in terms of how to maintain my gluten-free diet since living in Asia, where celiac disease is basically unknown. I work to advocate where I can and stick to whole foods whenever possible. And I’m always on the hunt for the best Mexican food in whatever country I am in!
What are some of your hobbies or interests?
I love to travel! I am currently traveling full time and in Southeast Asia after launching the largest behind the scenes guide to 100% gluten-free places around the globe. What started as dabbling into the gluten-free world last year on Instagram and a website, has turned into what I’m doing full time.
Recently I have started crossfit and love the physical challenge, as I was always an athlete growing up. Cooking is also a hobby and now that I have an apartment for a couple of months, I have a kitchen again! Asia does not have ovens though, so the challenge is to get creative with a stovetop! I have many other interests, but my biggest interest by far is people! I absolutely love getting to know people at the core of who they are. Being able to understand what makes someone tick and have a soul centered connection is my favorite part of life.
What do you test with your Nima?
I have started testing lots of foods with my Nima. I now have several “regular” spots in Hanoi where I know that the food is safe but when I am venturing out to try new places or new street food, the Nima is my favorite travel companion! I’m heading back to Thailand for a two week trip next week, so I will be sure to testing new spots with it there.
What was your food life like before you had your Nima?
Korea was one of the most challenging places I have ever traveled and lived with celiac disease. I have been to well over 20 countries and Asia is by far the most challenging. I moved to Korea quite naive honestly, thinking because it was a rice based country it would be simple. But it wasn’t. Not at all. I cooked most of the 8 months that I lived there. The main exception was eating “samgyupsal” (Korean bbq) with friends on a regular basis. This is literally a celiac dream come true, where you cook your own food in front of you and all the meat comes unseasoned and non-marinated. Seoul has many more options for gluten-free food and even a few 100% gluten-free places, but I lived as far from Seoul as you basically can in Korea.
(Korean BBQ pictured here. Note not everything on this table is gluten-free. If only I had my Nima in Korea!)
Although I managed before getting my Nima, it was hard to ever know if people understood my dietary restrictions with the language barrier. After I left Korea, I have been to 5 other Asian countries where again, celiac is basically not known as a word. Gluten doesn’t really translate in people’s vocabulary either.
What’s your food life like now that you have Nima?
Nima has been a game changer for me since receiving it. I feel even more willing to be adventurous with where I go and how I eat since if I ever question something and the language barrier, I simply use my Nima to confirm if the food is safe.
Bonus fun questions:
If you can only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tacos! Or anything Mexican really.
If you can only use one spice or condiment what would it be?
I don’t really like condiments, unless bbq sauce counts? I would choose that for sure!
If you can only choose one restaurant for the rest of your life where would it be?
This is SUCH a hard one. I have too many to choose, but currently I would pick Querio Arepas in Denver. They were definitely some of the first to the 100% gluten-free food scene and their arepas are incredible!
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Thank you for sharing your story Carrie!