celiac disease superpower

This post is written by Erin Purnell, she is currently a Junior studying Marketing at Loyola Marymount University. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease one year ago and recently became a Nima College Ambassador. You can read more about her in this Breaking Bread interview.

We knew it even before Kelly Clarkson sang it: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” As much as my rational self knows that the obstacles in my life are making me a better and more evolved person, I thought it might be nice to actually write out a few ways celiac disease has been a positive addition to my life.

So here it is, the 5 ways celiac disease gives me superpowers.

Mind reader

Do you ever wish you knew to what lengths someone would go to make you happy? The extent of our celiac needs allows us to see just how much effort our friends and family will devote to our safety. I have realized just how lucky I am with the people in my life because of this.

As an added bonus, celiac can be used as a clue on dates when faced with the kiss-or-no-kiss dilemma. I’ve never used this strategy, but I read an account of a man who told his date that if she ordered gluten, they wouldn’t be able to kiss — she proceeded to order a gluten free salad.

A superhero with manners

Picture this. I am out at dinner animatedly telling a story when my food arrives. The Erin of my past would continue the story, simultaneously eating and talking and throwing all table manners out the window. Now, I wait for Nima to test my food. I finish telling my story. I don’t talk and eat at the same time. It’s much better.

The power of invisibility

Celiac is an invisible disease. Nobody can see my gluten intolerance just by looking at me. Nobody can see my struggles, and I have learned to appreciate other people’s invisible struggles as well. Celiac has challenged me to be more patient, more kind and more empathetic.

Looking good in the latex

I used to be a binge party snacker. You know those birthday parties by the pool with the bowl of pretzels in the middle of the table? I devoured those pretzels. Celiac has curbed my mindless snacking.

My own hero

The irony of my celiac diagnosis is that it demands personal advocacy, something I hate to do. I have to stand up for myself and my dietary needs almost every single day. But since celiac, I have learned how to stand up for myself in other situations as well, and that, I think, is the most powerful superpower of all.