Celiac Disease & Food Allergies: The Marathon of Your Life

The Boston Marathon has once again encompassed the town in which I live and work – Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Snuggled 26.2 miles away from the heart of Boston, this sleepy town comes alive each and every Spring.

I’ve called Hopkinton home for the last 17 years, and each year I have stood just mere feet from the start of the most prestigious marathons of all times cheering & encouraging every single runner that crosses that bright blue & yellow starting line. And year after year, without fail, it amazes me that all these people take one-step after another and make their way to a finish line that seems so far, far away. How do they train? How do they prepare? What do they think about during that 26.2 mile trek?

I asked a friend who has run the Boston Marathon numerous times what thoughts are passing through runner’s minds as they attempt the most challenging marathon in the world. She told me that for most runners, come race day, it is not a physical challenge, but a mental one. She quoted Mike Fanelli, a running coach, by saying most runners “Divide the race into thirds. Running the first part with their head, the middle part with their personality, and the last part with their heart”.

And after 17 years, I finally got it. 

I understood.

I realized that all of us with celiac disease and/or food allergies are just like those runners that I have been in awe and mystified with for years.

Like the runners, we all start our journey with “our head”, making sure we read and research, learn as much as we can, ask questions and most importantly act smart.

Once we get comfortable with the pace of our new dietary lifestyles, we add a bit of spice & our own personalities… we develop our own signature dishes, try new things, determine what we like and dislike; we get a skip in our step, and yes… we get a rhythm and a momentum that get us through even the Heartbreak Hills of life.

Then, comes the good part… action from the heart. This comes when you round that final corner and see the finish line and you know, just know, that yes, you have run the marathon of your life… that you’ve done it. Defeated it. You become aware that the support and cheering of others has illuminated your journey. And most important, it is at this time you are able to root for and encourage others that are on the same course you have just traveled.

Welcome to the marathon of your life. Lace up and take it one step at a time.

They’ll be plenty of us be cheering you on every step of the way.

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7 Responses to “Celiac Disease & Food Allergies: The Marathon of Your Life”

  1. Mark Says:

    You have to watch the curves and look at the product your buying, because you could have wheat in the product one day, and buy the same product another and it be wheat free.It has happened when the package looks a little different when they update the package and find no wheat on the ingredients when they had wheat in and it go the opposite way also so keep checking I don’t likt it when they change and you buy that product for so long and then you turn to another curve and they put gluten in the product.Just because it says wheat free don’t mean it’s gluten free,so turning curves can change the whole scene.

  2. Kathleen Reale Says:

    Mark –

    Yes! Always, always check the labels of the the foods! Thanks for reminding us all. Even “safe” foods can have the formulations changed – so check each and every time…

    Be Free!

  3. Katie Says:

    So true. Awesome analogy!

  4. Kathleen Reale Says:

    Katie… Thank you!

    I just got back to the office after sneaking out to watch the runners start… What a great day it is here in Hopkinton!

    Be Free!

  5. Lucy Says:

    This article could not have come at a better time! I find that I am in the middle stage (maybe a bit on my way toward the end to begin the last). It has been a few months that I have been playing around with my own version of recipes and making some up as I go along (some are winners some….well..needed a bit of help). This weekend I took a pie crust recipe and turned it into something healthy, pretty and yummy -just ate it for breakfast. I tend to be my own lab rat – LOL. Thank you for the inspirations!

  6. Kathleen Reale Says:


    The fun has just begun! =) Good luck with the trial & errors of developing your own recipes and tweeking old favorites. If all else fails, just “recycle” the failures! You can use “bad” pie crusts for an Apple Cobbler topping or crumbly dry bread that is not worthy of sandwiches as a meatloaf filler…. Gotta love it! Creativity at it’s best….

    Good luck to you, and please do share those “good” keeper recipes!

    Be Free!

  7. Gwen Says:

    Love the article. It is so appropriate. I feel like I am in the middle of the race after 1 1/2 years of learning to live life with celiac. Like Lucy, I have been trying new and old recipes to fit my lifestyle (some good and others not so good). The pie crust is sounding interesting. I have not tried that yet becuase I am not happy with any bread and not much of a baker for pies and cakes so I am blessed to have ready-mix for that, but one day I will get brave and move on to bigger efforts such as mixing my own flours to use but for now, thank God for people who do.

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