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The Baggage & Motherhood Guest Writer’s Series gives a space for moms around the world to share their story of what life has thrown their way and how it has impacted them in their role as a Mom. This post by Jennifer Marcks explores her lifestyle change to eating gluten-free foods in order to be the best mom she could be!

All of the posts in this series touch on the real life struggles of bringing your “stuff” with you to your most important job: Motherhood.

How I Changed My Plate to Gluten-Free Foods to Change My Life

Do you spend days with a boated belly, feeling terrible just getting through your day with little energy or running to the bathroom just from eating out?

This is not normal behavior.

It took me a long time to realize this! I spent multiple years feeling terrible, having a bloated belly, spending too much time in the bathroom and missing out on fun events with my family.

And . . . no one could explain it.

I often told my doctors I thought it had something to do with my food choices. Repeatedly, they said that food had nothing to do with how I felt.

For the record – Food has EVERYTHING to do with how you feel each and every day.

As the years went on, I really keyed into my body and KNEW food was the culprit. I finally found a doctor who said, “Maybe you should just eat potatoes.” (Frustrating!)

Even though that doctor or the dietician he sent me to were not much help at the time, they did bring up a new word in my vocabulary that changed everything:


Whether you are eating gluten or not, it impacts your life!

It turned out that gluten was causing havoc to my body. This revelation turned my world upside down.

At first, I was obsessed with every bite taken, wondering if I would get sick.

As a former teacher, staying home with my children at the time, I was truly not thriving. This was not how I wanted to show up for my children.

My then two little ones would quiz me each night at the dinner table – can you eat this, how about that? Why are you eating that? What is that?

Little did I realize that they were being prepped for their future as they started understanding why I was only eating certain foods.

The beginning of a gluten-free foods journey is not always easy

There’s a lot to understand when you start a gluten-free foods life:

  • What is safe to eat?
  • Where is the hidden gluten? (it’s everywhere!)
  • Where do I find the food needed?
  • How do I eat out?
  • Can I go to my parents’ house for Christmas dinner?
  • Can I travel anymore?

There is so much to think and worry about – on top of all the everyday regular MOM things already on your plate.

It . . . was . . . a . . . lot.

I found very little help from doctors. So, being a big DIY girl – I took matters in my own hands and did the research to figure out this much-needed new life-style.

I was done missing out on things; done feeling terrible; done worrying about food all day long. I was done not being my best self.

As I did my homework, reading, discovering and learning how to live gluten-free we found a huge silver lining.

We discovered that my children had Celiac Disease.

Some may think that was a terrible finding! Yet, it can take up to ten years to diagnose Celiac Disease, while having many health issues arise. This was a good thing to know.

There were a few things my children had gone through that just didn’t add up at the time. When we put all the pieces together we had the answer – they needed a gluten-free foods life.

My third grade daughter had no energy (after just playing outside for 5 minutes!), bloating every night and a slew of other reactions taking place. Yet, they were all chalked up to stress or a bug. Really?

My son had always been small for his age, and was behind in teeth development (a true sign of Celiac Disease). Now he towers over me!

As we put our new gluten-free foods lifestyle in place, my energy returned and my bloating went away. I’ll never forget the day when I realized I’d had NO bloating at all. That was a BIG deal.

The truth is – when you change your plate, you change your health, and you change your life!

This is the motto that I live by as I’ve seen so many people turn things around by making healthier food changes in their life.

Going gluten-free made me a better mom.

As a mom you definitely want the best for your children. You don’t want them to be different or get picked on, or stand out for being “weird”. I wanted my children to thrive being gluten-free, and not be pushed to the side or misunderstood by others.

And I knew a big piece of this would be through empowerment.

I had to empower myself to understand and incorporate gluten-free living so that I had control — instead of food, or a deprivation mindset, controlling me.

Then, I had to find as many ways as I could to empower my children so that they would accept this and thrive with it – instead of continuing to have health issues by not following their necessary gluten-free lifestyle.

Empowering my children included teaching them how healthier foods change their body, health and energy, and educating them how to change their food to stay healthy – no shots, no operations, no hospital stays (hopefully).

Together we developed recipes and made our favorite foods gluten-free so that they didn’t feel left out. If someone had something they wanted, we figured it out and made it at home.

When they had birthday parties, I called ahead to see what was being shared. Then we made gluten-free cupcakes and sent along any other food (gluten-free) that they could eat.

They didn’t feel left out or different because they understood how to keep healthy by eating the right food. The best part was that I watched them grow and thrive.

Now, my two older children are now 17 and 19, and are absolutely on top of their gluten-free foods and lifestyle. This is no longer a deprivation for them but just part of who they are.

My third child, who came along a bit later, has been living gluten-free for 8 years. He’s been gluten, dairy and corn free since birth.

Together we have all inspired each other to create recipes, find new options for foods and learn to navigate life as we live being gluten-free. Together we built a gluten-free life that has just become routine.

Our journey has made us a healthier family

Many moms struggle just to get their kids to eat something healthy. I get it!
Before we even knew that my family had to be gluten-free, raising a healthy family was imperative to me.

Keep offering and keep sharing good food with your children, and explain why they should eat healthy food over junk.

I used to tell my kids, “You’ll be the strongest kid in class!” or “You’ll start running faster than everyone else!” or “Wow Look at your big muscles!” (Kids love that one!) And, yes, this got them to eat their broccoli!

Build your kids up – teach them how food changes their body – offer healthy foods and snacks and you’ll see that eventually they gravitate to the healthy option over the junk.

By cooking and baking at home, you are in charge of your health. You know what’s in your food and how much you are eating. It’s the perfect step to creating health at home.

Gluten created a new career for me

After learning so much about living gluten-free, I went on to become a Health Coach so that I could teach others to love their gluten-free life.

You see, I realized that I’d made things really hard at the beginning of our journey- because I didn’t know any better or have any support. But, it didn’t have to be that way.

Having the right support, the right steps to implement and things to understand and incorporate into your life – changes everything. This is how I teach others to live a gluten-free foods life that just becomes routine.

It saddens me when I meet people who have been gluten-free for years, yet still don’t really have it set into their life. They are stuck in deprivation mode or feeling like it is all too hard.

Life doesn’t have to be that way.

You can learn to have a thriving gluten-free life, one that you can manage, and one that just becomes routine.

Living gluten-free has changed my life. But as I look back, I realize it was all for the better.

gluten-free family

Jennifer Marcks is a Gluten-Free Health Coach. As the creator of Gluten-Free MARCKS The Spot, Jennifer helps moms and families fall in love with their gluten-free life. Having Celiac Disease and gluten-intolerance in her
family, she knows exactly what you are going through.

Jennifer helps empower your kitchen skills to gain back your energy and learn how to change your plate to change your life. You’ll be amazed as your family starts devouring your new gluten-free meals.

She’ll help you ditch the overwhelm and have you back with coffee with friends, lunch with the girls and traveling to the beach on vacation. No more sitting on the couch and missing out on life!

When Jennifer is not whipping up a new gluten-free treat, you can find her sneaking off to read a good book, going for a walk or snuggling up with her family for games or possibly binge-watching Netflix.

You can find Jennifer at:
Gluten Free Marcks the Spot
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest

Gluten-Free? Join her Facebook Group

Big thank you to Jennifer for sharing her family’s personal experience with shifting to a gluten-free foods lifestyle, and for offering her support and services to other families going through the same thing!


Christina Furnival

Christina is a mom to two wild and wonderful kiddos, a licensed psychotherapist (LPCC), the founder of her website and therapeutic motherhood blog Real Life Mama, and a children's book author of a social/emotional wellbeing series, Capable Kiddos! She and her Scottish husband are raising their family in San Diego, where they love to hike, play soccer, cook, walk around the lake, and go to the beach.

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