Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Meet Taylor: Celiac Disease Advocate & Founder of GlutenAway

Taylor is 19 years old and was diagnosed with celiac disease when he was 13 years old.

What symptoms were you or your child having before being diagnosed?  

The first symptoms that I experienced happened at the age of 12 years old. I was in 7th grade at the time and began to experience extreme weight loss, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, constipation / diarrhea, headaches, trouble concentrating, vision disturbances, and much more. The biggest symptoms were definitely the weight loss and fatigue. I lost 20 pounds in only 6 months, at a time where I should have been growing. I also had no energy to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed some days so I was stuck staying home from school. Symptoms can range all over the body, but fatigue often seems to be the most common one.
Taylor and his Mom, Laura

Any other family members diagnosed       with celiac disease?   

My mom actually got diagnosed with celiac disease a few months before I did. She happened to be the main reason I found out I had celiac disease and got tested in the first place. We didn’t know what was going on and doctors were misdiagnosing me with all sorts of other conditions. We ended up taking it into our own hands and finally discovered that I had celiac disease after all, thanks to my mom. We also believe that my grandma may have it as well, but she is too stubborn to get tested. 

How has your life or your child's life changed since being diagnosed?

My life has changed dramatically since getting diagnosed at age 13. It was hard to adapt at first since I was in school, in the cafeteria, or at school parties. But over time I learned how to eat gluten-free safely and make it fun too. After a few years, I really got the hang of it and even began to create my own gluten-free blog to help other kids and teens my age. My health improved greatly after my diagnosis and my life changed after my diagnosis too. I am definitely grateful I got diagnosed young otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today.

It was so nice to meet Taylor at the GFFAFEST this past October in Indianapolis. 

What advice would you offer to a parent who’s child was just diagnosed with celiac disease?

My best advice is to remain calm and don’t freak out about your child’s future without gluten. It may seem scary at first and you will probably be more scared than your own child. The nice thing about today is that there is so many gluten-free options now and so many resources to help. Pretty much any gluten-filled food can now be made gluten-free. School will be hard for your child sometimes but you can always do your best to help by sending him/her to school with lots of gluten-free options. Pack their lunch, send them to school with gluten-free snacks, support them and encourage new eating habits. Do all of that and I promise that it will all be ok.

Taylor with friends from the celiac disease/gluten-free community.
Taylor, I am so proud of you! You've embraced your challenges and you've turned them into a positive. You are such a wonderful role model for Jack and other kiddos. I'm thankful for all that you do for the celiac disease and gluten-free community. Providing amazing gluten-free recipes, gluten-free kits, gluten-free gift sets, giveaways and other resources to make things a little easier for those living gluten-free. Best to you and continued success!

Check out GlutenAway on Facebook and/or Twitter as well.

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