Thanks for visiting Gluten Hates Me!

I'm April Marlow Ravelli, but in the blog world I'm known by my maiden name: Marlow. In June of 2008, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. After a final meal with an entire baguette, I went gluten free and never looked back! I started this blog at first to cope with the stress of my new lifestyle, but once I discovered the amazing online community of readers and bloggers I was hooked! I truly love writing this blog and am excited to see what the future will bring! Being gluten free is one of the healthiest decisions I make in my life daily, but I couldn't do it without support. Need tips, advice, or a gluten free shoulder cry to on? Contact me!

Email Marlow: marlowapril @

Pre-Gluten Hates Me (aka "The Gluten Years")

Having grown up in a small Southern town, I didn't have much access to fast food. I ate what my Mom prepared for supper, and what the school provided for lunch. I was active in sports and dance, and in all honesty my Celiac symptoms were not all that evident. Looking back, I did suffer from migraines and bloating. But like most teenagers, I was too busy to notice!

My freshman year of college was the beginning of the end. I "partied" too much (read drank too many Smirnoffs) and I constantly ate fast food. I was playing tennis, so I was still pretty active but it was only a matter of time until my eating habits caught up with me. As I progressed in college, my eating habits worsened and the symptoms of Celiac Disease became more obvious, though at the time I had no idea the cause. Fatigue became a daily demon and migraines more and more frequent.

In April of 2003 I began working at a food co-op that specialized in healthy, organic foods. As I began to eat healthier, I became more in tune with my body and more aware of my symptoms. I noticed that after a few beers I would always get a migraine, but I chalked it up to being hungover. I also began identifying "trigger foods" and sharing my experiences with my co-workers. When I ate pizza I would get incredibly bloated, and cake batter ice cream actually made me throw up. Several of my co-workers deemed me lactose intolerant, and so in 2004 I gave up dairy. Without much luck, I continued to eat cheese occasionally and tried to make peace with...well...having diarrhea 4 to 5 times a day. I ate mostly healthy, but in retrospect I was overdoing it in a lot of areas. I was eating entirely too many servings of fries and too frequently. Not to mention the occasional breakfast fast food or quick snack. I drank beer on a regular occasion. My active lifestyle was pretty much at a stand still, as I had to plan my days around the bathroom. During this time I also began suffering from PTSD as a result of an unfortunate murder/suicide unrelated to me, but in my front yard. I was fatigued, depressed, and prone to migraines. I became apathetic to my health, and sought comfort in food.  

The Waffle House 

In May of 2008, I went to eat at The Waffle House with my bestie sister Joan and my two favorite aunties. I was just beginning to have a more close and grown up relationship with aunties and we spent the entire meal gabbing! Like most Southern families, the Marlow clan is very private. We typically don't share unpleasant details of our life. Because of this, I had no idea that my two aunties had Celiac did my cousin! So at The Waffle House one of my aunties commented on my waffle and how she wished she could partake but the consequences weren't worth it. Of course I thought she meant the carbs, but when she explained to me what Celaic Disease was and how gluten affected her life, my other auntie chimed in and a light bulb went off in my head! Did I have Celiac Disease?

Around the same time as this conversation, I decided it was time to switch doctors. I had been seeing the same doctor for five years, and with new insight into my family history, I researched and found an amazing P.A. that was widely recommended. She was amazing! Best doctor in my life hands down. She listened, for nearly an hour, and then suggested that we do a blood test first, before any invasive testing. She also ordered very thorough blood work in addition to the Celiac panel, so we could get a full view of my current health. 

The Diagnosis - (aka gluten hates me?)

Hardest day of my life. I have Celiac Disease. It's certain. Not only did I test positive for both genes, but with my family history my doctor was 100% positive. She suggested that I could still seek an endoscopy, but I could also just try an elimination diet. Just a few days off of wheat and I knew it was gluten. My bathroom visits were far less frequent, and after a few months I had more energy. I hadn't had a migraine all month! But I was far from "healed".

I was also given some rough news about my overall health with my Celiac diagnosis. Luckily, my doctor was amazing and gave me the no nonsense approach that I needed. My blood pressure was high. My bad cholesterol was high. My triglycerides were high. The only thing that wasn't high was my good cholesterol. And that was bad. This news was hard to hear, but certainly not the hardest. The worst news I received that day was that I am "pre-diabetic". In my doctor's words, my pancreas has a limited warranty, and it was up to me to determine exactly how limited. If I continued my life on it's current track, I could possibly be diabetic in 10 years or less, and if I made some major changes it could be as many years as 30.I was devastated.

*Although the relationship between wheat and type 1 diabetes mellitus is still misunderstood, it seems that there may be a connection. I'm very interested in current research in this area and would love any thoughts!

My First Three Months - NO Gluten (aka I'M HUNGRY!!!)

When new gluten free folks email me and ask for advice, I always start the email with "The first three months are the hardest." In the first three months of my gluten free life, I had to completely change my daily habits. Food was no longer easily and quickly ready for me. I had to wake up 45 minutes early, so that I could cook myself breakfast and be sure I had lunch and snacks. I was CONSTANTLY hungry!! I wasn't sure what to substitute with gluten free alternatives yet, and so I ended up eating A LOT of veggie stir fry. I also learned that I needed to ALWAYS have a food bar in my purse! On many occasions I ended up stranded, starving, and had to rely on french fries (which aren't even always safe!!).

In addition to being hungry for food, I was also hungry for knowledge! There was hidden gluten everywhere, and I had no idea where to look! Blue cheese, sour creams, soups, broth, and soy sauce were just a few of the places I found gluten. I realized that I had to read every single ingredients list before I could eat it, and I couldn't trust "flavors" or "coloring".

But week after week, eating became easier. I found new gluten free favorites, and I realized that experimenting with food was fun! I still had hurdles. I probably had a mini-breakdown weekly, but I was coping. Writing this blog helped tremendously! And reading other gluten free blogs helped! 'Sorry, I can't eat that' , 'Hey, that tastes good!', and 'The Good Eatah' were and are still my favorites!

Cheating - Four Words

Don't. Do. It!!! Ever.
The day after my Celiac Diagnosis, I went gluten free. And I have never cheated. I have been "glutened" a few times, but I have never purposely cheated. And in all honesty, it shouldn't be called "cheating" it should be called...sabotage. Being gluten free is already hard enough, and if you flip flop back and forth your intestine is never going to heal! And you're basically just playing mind games with yourself. I'm not saying it won't be hard. It will be. But it will be ten times easier if you fully commit yourself to being gluten f I absolutely had to tell myself that gluten was poison for my body. It hates me. I hate it. Period. I don't think I would have been able to completely change my diet if I hadn't taken such a strict, no-nonsense mind set in the first place. Celiac disease is not an allergy; it's an auto immune disease, and in my opinion deserves to be treated seriously. Okay, I will now step off my high horse. :)

Two Years Later

Even after two years, I still feel like a rookie sometimes. I may even have a few mini-meltdowns occasionally. But I am ten times better than I was at the beginning and some days I even feel like a pro! I no longer have to plan my days around the bathroom, and migraines are few and far between. Choosing to be gluten free is the healthiest decision I make every day, and I honestly feel it is a blessing.

And who knows, maybe one day I'll write a book for new gluten freebies!
Gluten Hates Me and You! :)