Gluten-Free Confession

I haven’t blogged about it yet, maybe because I am still processing it a little, maybe because I’m still downplaying it a little, or probably mostly because I don’t want to be a pain in the butt…  but I’m gluten free now.  Have been for a over month.

And I’m feeling so much better.

My stomach has been uncooperative for years, and I noticed that anytime I did a no-carb diet, my belly was quite happy.  So me and the doc started talking about a year ago and turns out, I’ve got a gluten allergy.

I hem-hawed around the implications of cutting all gluten out of my diet,  and I wavered.  I would cut it mostly out, but then cave for a cookie or a bowl of pasta and I would get sick.  Every time.

So after one fabulous night of bruschetta on Italian loaf and breaded chicken on our vibey patio, and two full days of sickness to follow, I decided it was time.

I’ve done enough no-carb/low-carb/detoxes that it’s not absolutely terrible.  But really is a whole lifestyle change for both me and Adam.

The hardest parts are (not necessarily in any particular order):

1. Inconveniencing Others: Going to friends’ homes for dinner and either picking around a meal because I didn’t tell them my restrictions, or feeling like a pain for pre-telling and asking them to accommodate.  There is something so holy about “breaking bread” (ah the irony of that phrase in this post) with others.  I love the community that takes place around a shared meal.  I love being invited into others’ homes and learning about their cultures and dishes.  I feel like this impacts that, for sure, and I hate that.

2.  Others’ Reactions: Telling people and having them act like you’re on a trendy new diet.  I know a lot of people are going gluten-free now, but there’s a reason: A lot of us have bad bellies.  Gluten-free is not a diet, it’s an intolerance or allergy (or even more, if celiac is involved, a serious auto-immune issue).  I had less compassion before I became gluten-free, so I get it.  For all of you with gluten-free friends, though, don’t make light of it, and please don’t act like your friends are being a pain.  They hate it, too.

3.  Impact on my Spouse: Don’t get me wrong, Adam can eat whatever he wants, I’m not a food-dictator, but I don’t cook 2 separate meals when we’re eating at home, which means some of his faves either don’t get made anymore, or they are modified. (pesto over rice pasta ain’t the same as pesto over whole wheat pasta – and that’s the truth).  Where we go out to eat has been altered, as well.  Chinese food makes me sick consistently, and I watched Adam’s face the other night and he disappointingly ate gluten free pizza.  He hasn’t once complained, mind you, mostly because he’s amazing and a doll, but I know this has been an adjustment for him.

4.  Convenience:  Being gluten-free takes intention and planning.  We are usually really intentional and planful about food over here at Casa Buzard, but there are nights when I work super late or weekends that we didn’t get around to grocery shopping or road trips to be taken, and it’s just plain difficult with restrictions.  It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy.

5.  Snacking: My coworkers bring in food for each other a lot. And it’s good stuff; like cookies and donuts.  No more grazing.  No more “how did I eat 3 cookies today?” for me.  This one isn’t a bad one for me, as snacking has been the arch-enemy of weight loss for me for years.  But once in a blue moon, I want a cookie.  I can have one, but I have to make it myself or brave the traffic to get to Whole Foods.

6.  Love of Cooking: I love love love love love to cook.  Sometimes I make yummy food, too, if I do say so myself.  This whole food restriction thing has put a bit of a damper on my love of cooking.  It’s been harder to embrace permanent changes in my cooking.  I think that the low-carb diets were fun to embrace because I knew they were for a season, but since this is for the long-haul, I feel a little like someone punched my love of cooking square in the gut.  This week, I feel a little spring in my knives, so maybe I’m turning a corner.

7. Budget: It’s more expensive to eat gluten-free.  Even if we aren’t buying the gluten-free substitutes for carby-things, veggies, fruits, and meats almost exclusively gets pricey.  Since this has forced us to eat out differently, the food costs are probably evening out, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the financial impact this has, as well.

This post feels totally selfish, probably because it is.  It’s all about me and how food changes are affecting me.  As someone who cares deeply about justice and the environment and my brothers and sisters around the world, this seems a totally small thing.  And it really is.

I know it’s all about perspective.

1. I only have a gluten allergy, I don’t have celiac.  If I eat gluten, all I get is a really angry tummy and maybe a sick day.  I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination, and I can eat out at most restaurants.  It could be so much worse.

2.  There are people in other countries that don’t have enough food to worry whether they have a food allergy.  I really do get that.  (By the way “thank you” to that person who pointed this out to me when I told you about my allergy – But my reality is that I do have food choices and I don’t like my stomach hurting.)  I’m grateful to live in a country that has lots of food and medical care, and the ability to eat in such a way that I am well.

3.  I have options.  So many food distributors and restaurants are being sensitive to the gluten-free world.  With a little investigating and a little more cash, I can still eat most everything I’m craving.

At the end of the day, life is not bad, I am ok, and best of all, I’m feeling so much better.  I guess I just thought it was time to confess.  So, if you’re planning to ask me over for dinner, please know that I come with baggage. You know I’m always happy to help with cooking. Mostly, I just want to hang out with you, I care much more about the company than the food, but I just can’t eat some things anymore.

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6 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Confession

  1. My best friend Kristen also is on a gluten free diet. She does have celiacs as well as a dairy allergy 😦 All of this came to light in just the last couple of years. She has been gluten free for at least a year now and I know it isn’t easy. I feel for you and even though you said this is a “selfish post” it really isn’t. A lot of people know exactly what you’re going through and you’ve given a great perspective here for the ones who don’t. Here’s to being a healthier, better feeling YOU!

  2. Uggh, I hate that for you. I’m glad it’s not celiac’s either–the cross-contamination thing is really tough. A cousin of Nate’s came to visit us last year after taking a cruise, and she was sick for 3 days when the cruise ship cook finally discovered he was using bread to soak up the grease from the pork (gross, I know, but true!). I’m glad you and your doctor finally discovered the trigger though. Not being sick will be a good trade off! I was actually surprised when I cooked gluten free for company how many recipes we use that are gluten-free. But maybe because I’m more of a rice girl rather than a pasta girl.

    At least you can still have tortilla chips and salsa? 😉 Love you! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Molly! You’re right, so much of what I cook was already gluten free. And when I’m really craving pasta or pizza, I have options. All I can say is THANK YOU GOD FOR CORN TORTILLAS AND TORTILLA CHIPS! I mean it! 🙂 Love you too!

  3. Aw, man! I am having a moment of silence on your behalf. It’s true – there are many worse things in life than having to give up gluten, but I would definitely go through some mourning if it were me. We have several friends with celiac or gluten allergies and they do seem to make it work well, but it seems like it gets easier over time once you learn how to adjust your favorite recipes and find decent substitutes – I’m sure you will figure out a lot of creative solutions since you do like to cook so much. But it will take some time and some things just can’t be substituted. Good news on the donut front though! Having a gluten allergy is certainly not being selfish or difficult – obviously you don’t want to be sick! I would think (hope) people would be understanding of it!

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