I've struggled for years with digestive issues before my doctor and I finally realized what was causing the issue...gluten. Gluten intolerance is often confused with IBS, but getting an accurate diagnosis can really do wonders for your body because you will finally know what to eliminate from your diet. There are 5 stages that I, and most gluten intolerant people I know, went through at the beginning of this crazy journey and, for those of you who are still undiagnosed, or perhaps newly diagnosed, I want to share those stages with you. It will prepare you for what is to come...or if you are already experiencing it, then it will reassure you that you are not alone. 1. Frustration Before getting diagnosed with a gluten intolerance it's totally normal to feel incredibly frustrated. You think you've found a link between every time you eat pasta, and every time your stomach balloons, but you're not certain that it is actually connected. This undoubtedly causes a huge amount of frustration, because you need to wait for a doctor to confirm your gluten intolerance...or pay out for a DIY gluten test (which usually cost a small fortune). 2. Excitement This may sound crazy, but once your doctor accepts that you might have an intolerance to gluten, and starts testing you for it, you actually feel a sense of excitement! Yes, it's slightly crazy...but it's true. The anticipation of hopefully finally getting proof that your body is actually fighting against a certain food is amazing, because it will (at long last) mean that you will know exactly what you are reacting to...so you will know what to cut out of your diet! It seems like the test results take ages to come back too! 3. Relief If your test comes back positive for gluten intolerance (or even for coeliac disease) you feel an overwhelming sense of relief. I had waited from the age of 14 to finally be diagnosed as gluten intolerant at 26! Doctors just kept telling me it was either nothing, IBS or just a coincidence. I gave up asking for a few years, but when I finally demanded a test and the results came back as gluten intolerant (non coeliac) I actually felt ridiculously happy. For anyone who doesn't have a food intolerance you will probably be reading this thinking I sound absurd getting such happiness and relief from being told that I have to cut something out of my diet...but for those of you who have struggled with any allergies/intolerances you will know that you are just pleased to finally know exactly what has been causing the problem! 4. Confusion Once you've been told to avoid gluten, you will pretty quickly find that you feel a little lost every time you go food shopping. This is totally normal; I had no idea what I was able to eat, and I also assumed that every food product would clearly label gluten...warning...that doesn't happen! Most food products state it, but some like to hide it to trick you. It can be quite scary walking through a supermarket looking at things and wondering if you can eat them or not. I felt completely alone when I first went gluten-free because I had no idea what to do; what ingredients to look for, whether any gluten-free foods would taste nice (and let's be honest...a lot of them don't). But after a few weeks you will settle in to the lifestyle and figure out your regular items for your shopping basket. 5. Contentment Once you're at the stage where you know what foods are safe, and you have a bit of a routine going when you go food shopping, you will actually feel very content. It's lovely knowing that you have it all under control...and what's an even better feeling is the way your gut will feel! It's so good to get rid of that awful groggy sensation associated with gluten...well, at least until you accidentally get glutened! Don't stress...you will get glutened at some point; probably multiple times, but just make a note of the food that you reacted to and learn to avoid it in future. Enjoy your feeling of content knowing that you no longer have to be within running distance of the nearest toilet every time you eat!