If it seems like everyone in your life is suddenly going gluten-free, you're not imagining things. In fact, a study by the journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine found that the amount of Americans who eat gluten-free, despite not having celiac disease—the autoimmune disorder where ingesting gluten can lead to damaged intestines, nutritional deficiencies, infertility, and nervous system disorders, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation—has more than tripled since 2009. While some seem to believe eating gluten-free is a weight loss tool or a lifestyle choice, those with celiac see things differently. For them, staying away from gluten isn't simply to avoid bloating and stomach pain. It's a critical health issue.
To get around some of the misconceptions about the disease, we asked 15 women what it's really like to have celiac disease—and how it impacts their day-to-day life.