FeaturesOct/Nov 2013 Issue

Food Allergies and Teenagers

Gaining Strength

This fall, Jayci Drew heads off for her freshman year at Penn State University with a plan (she’s studying petroleum and natural gas engineering) and a strong sense of self. She maintains that the experience of having celiac disease has empowered her in many ways.

“Without the bullying, I don’t believe I would have the self-confidence, integrity, sense of right and wrong or leadership skills that I have today,” she says. “That experience taught me to go above and beyond in tough situations, knowing that I can overcome them.”

The emotional support of family and friends has been critical to Drew’s inner strength. With this type of caring and involvement, many adolescents credit a diagnosis of celiac disease or food allergy with helping make them overall better people.

“You’re able to look at things differently. I don’t judge people the way I was judged when I first came out with celiac disease. I’m more open to others and I make healthier relationships,” Drew says. “It really builds your confidence and self-esteem to be able to say, ‘No, I’m not going to eat that. I’m going to stick to my special diet. This is my health and I know this is right.” LW

Associate editor Eve Becker is author of glutenfreenosh.com. Her daughter has celiac disease.

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