These aren't your typical belly bloat before-and-after photos from one weekend of gorging on pizza, french fries, ice cream, and beer. This is way more serious. Esme captions the above photo, "first picture: before being diagnosed with celiac disease" and "second picture: after being diagnosed with celiac disease."
Wow. Can you imagine the pain and discomfort she was experiencing? Esme says, "the summer of 2015 was physically the worst summer of my life. I was suffering from many health problems and I didn't know why. The symptoms included acne, extreme exhaustion, mood swings, shooting pains in my stomach, nausea, breaking out in rashes, and experiencing severe digestion issues (the details aren't pretty lmao)."
That wasn't all. She says, "the most noticeable symptom can be seen above — extreme bloating. It wasn't a normal bloat that everyone experienced. My stomach was constantly distended no matter what I ate and was intensely painful."
Esme felt like she would never get better. Then her doctor did a blood test for celiac disease and it came back positive. She cut gluten out of her diet and within one to two weeks, she says "almost every symptom I was experiencing disappeared. It was honestly like day and night."
She told POPSUGAR, "I didn't notice any extreme symptoms growing up. I started developing symptoms when I was about 17 years old but I wasn't diagnosed until I was 19 years old." Celiac disease can be hereditary, and Esme says both her mother and sister recently got tested and were diagnosed with celiac as well.
Symptoms can vary for every person, so if you're concerned you might have an allergy, see your doctor and get tested. She also says to watch out for other food allergies: "after I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I found out that I was also allergic to dairy!"
If you're trying to avoid gluten, Esme advises, "always check the nutritional information of everything you buy. Always ask at the restaurant if what you're eating is gluten-free, even if it's obviously gluten-free! You never know and sometimes cross-contamination occurs! I know it's embarrassing being that annoying person that asks if EVERYTHING is gluten-free, but it's always better to be safe than sorry."
And you don't have to live without! Esme says, "look for good gluten-free alternatives to your favorite food like bread, pasta, cookies, and cereal. They've made huge improvements in gluten-free alternatives recently."
And this piece one of advice is so important, Esme says, "instead of focusing on what you can't eat, focus on what you CAN eat. Fruits, vegetables, rice, corn, etc. It's not restrictive if you just get creative."