Hi there, I’m Candice, Jamaican born and yes, still living in Jamaica. Though I’ve moved from the east side of the island – Kingston and St. Andrew area- to the west side – white sandy beaches. I find myself experiencing the early challenges of gluten-free living all over again.
I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 16. I quickly went into remission with the help of medications which was short lived. At the age of 20, I was told I now have rheumatoid arthritis.
Medications didn’t help me to go into remission this time around and I was told I now have to be on medications for the rest of my life. Not wanting to be dependent on meds, with the guidance and support of my mom, I asked for an alternative. I was given two options, the ideal diet – gluten-free vegan – and the next best thing – a gluten-free vegetarian. After trying both, I choose the next best thing.
Back in 2012, there were not many options available for someone with my dietary needs in Jamaica. I could not walk into the supermarket and stroll to the designated gluten-free section, that just didn’t exist. As the years passed by, I had to import gluten-free products from the USA. As a Jamaican, I felt lonely in my own country. So, in 2014 I started working on The Gluten-Free Jamaican. February 21, 2015, The Gluten-Free Jamaican was born.
The idea behind this blog, the Facebook page, the Facebook group and the Twitter page is to create a community for Jamaicans with a similar dietary need to gain information on where to find gluten-free products, where to eat, discover recipes and mainly feel a little less lonely in their own country. This community is also meant to be inclusive to non-Jamaicans in need of the same.
Since 2012, it has become a lot easier to access gluten-free products locally – if you live in or close to the Kingston and St. Andrew area. Some supermarkets continuously stock gluten-free alternatives, and some restaurants provide gluten-free dishes either off the menu or on request. This is almost always never the case on the west side of the island.
And so, the struggles and discoveries continue…