Celiac Awareness Month: Interview with Rebecca Pytell

Celiac Awareness Month: Interview with Rebecca Pytell

When were you diagnosed?  

About 8 and 1/2 years ago (2009).

Tell us a little about your gluten-free journey? 

I had always had stomach problems are a child, but never voiced them to my parents or even thought much about these episodes myself. Then around 7th grade (age 12), I started experiencing extreme stomach problems associated with celiac disease. I was down to eating only rice chex and lettuce! After finally going to a gastroenterologist and doing various tests for things like lactose intolerance, we made the decision to have an endoscopy done. The endoscopy showed damage to the small intestinal villi and was biopseyed to prove celiac disease. Since then I have been living gluten-free, but also have other various gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

What was the most unexpected challenge you had to overcome when you were first diagnosed?

I actually did not have many difficulties going gluten-free. I wanted to feel better and go back to my "normal" life. I fully embraced the gluten-free lifestyle and don't find it difficult. That's why I started my blog, Strength and Sunshine, so I could empower others with celiac and food allergies to get comfortable in the kitchen, get creative, reclaim their health and life, and thrive in their diversity.  

What is a typical day of eating like for you/your family? And how do you manage food for yourself?

When I'm not at school and back home with family, I either solely cook for myself or will cook for the family. My mother is also gluten-free, but my brother is not. Even with a duel household, we keep cross-contamination under control. I do all the grocery shopping as well and budget and semi map out some dinner ideas as well as shop for the ingredients I'll be needing for recipe development on Strength and Sunshine.

What is your go-to recipe/meal?

My family and I LOVE all my slow cooker chicken recipes. That is the most requested dinner option that we all enjoy. From salsa chicken to bbq, and any other more "exotic" creation I throw together! Super easy and always comes out delicious!

Tip: Any words of advice/tips for gluten-free folks heading off to college next year?

I have always been able to have a full access to a kitchen or an actual apartment with a kitchen. Regardless of your school, you must apple for disability status and get in contact with your dining hall services and school nutritionist and make a plan if you plan on having meals in the dining hall.