Some Reflections on Not Being Able To Eat Things

Image source: freepublic.com
Image source: freepublic.com

I have been gluten-free since the Spring of 2012 when I moved out of my Italian grandmother (Nonna)’s house and stopped being confronted by a daily arsenal of pasta and bread.

Being gluten-free is not hard; it’s only when you combine it with a dairy-free existence (often mistaken for lactose intolerance) that it then becomes problematic. When you start avoiding two or more separate things, you become one of THOSE people in cafes inquiring about the ingredients in everything. You start to hear yourself saying things like “so, are those raw vegan nut ‘cookies’ made with wheat flour? Oh, no? Well then – Ah… spelt. Hm. I’ll just have a $2 apple, then. Thanks.”

At dinner parties people never know what to serve you. Most people don’t realize that chicken, salad and potatoes are perfectly fine and that bread baskets are usually eschewed by everyone except the pre-teens anyway.

No ice cream, thank you.

Your boyfriend gets excited about buying lactose free cream that he can now add to the fish to make a creamy, heavenly dish of saturated fat and milk solids. And you eat it anyway because who needs a Leaky Gut lecture at 9 pm? And then you notice cystic acne appearing on your chin the next day. And you notice silent resentment building. Next time use coconut milk.

The same people that feed you dairy comment on your acne. You tell them that dairy causes you to break out like a 14-year old male on horse steroids.

“Well, stop eating dairy, then. Would you like some tiramisu? No? Why not? You don’t eat anything! I never know what to serve you!”

No one starved from skipping dessert. They just became that person at a dinner party that makes everyone else feel guilty. Everyone hates that person. Change the subject with some cute anecdotes about digestive concerns in Colombian bakeries.

Tiramisu might be worth it. You decide. Know that when you cave, however, you will be the subject of smug satisfaction from previously-mentioned guilty dinner party guests.

You have no control over someone else’s sandwich. You can only worry about the contents of your own sandwich. Remind others of this.

While on the subject of sandwiches: you need to freeze gluten-free bread. And besides, it’s tiny. Here is a crazy recipe for bread made of nothing but almond butter and eggs that gets me every time.

Gluten-free oreo cookies are not healthy. At all. I’m not sure why they belong in the health food section of grocery stores but they offer just as much or as little nutritional value as regular oreo cookies filled with GMO wheat and corn. They are made purely with the intention of allowing celiac children to join in on life. God bless celiac children. They are delicious (the oreo cookies, not the children).

Ditto for gluten-free bread (unless it’s made of nothing but eggs and almond butter), cereal and crackers.

Does a French translation (Sans-Gluten-Free) count as a double negative? Doesn’t it mean “Free of Gluten-free?” So wouldn’t that mean it actually contains gluten? My head hurts. Gluten-induced migraine?

I’m just as confused about gluten-free make-up as you are.

Be radical and rebel against gluten-free marketing schemes by doing an elimination diet under a naturopathic doctor’s supervision. I personally recommend this one. She’s excellent. Contact her here.

You may not need to avoid gluten. If that’s the case, don’t forget to include this fact in your Gratitude Journal to let the universe know how you feel about this stroke of good fortune.

You will need to declare your gluten-freeness on a first date. “Oh, share a pitcher of beer? Well, I was going to get cider. Oh, they only have Somersby? Well, I guess I’ll just be bloated, then.” Don’t say the bloated thing out loud on the first date. Save it for the 3rd.

This will be a problem on future dates, and probably the rest of your relationship, if you happen to make it that far. (“I just don’t know what to feed you!” “Want to go out for Italian food? Oh right… well then what can you eat??”). Digestive enzymes will only get you to a certain point.

The only difference between food avoiders and normal people, I’ve come to learn, is that avoiders need to announce their sensitivities on first encounters. It just takes normal people who “can eat anything” slightly longer to reveal their weird distaste for perfectly normal foods like avocado, popcorn, white potatoes, brusselsprouts and drinking wine with dinner, all of which could be equally problematic when meal-planning.

Knowledge is power. You will drink a pitcher of beer again one day, you’ll just be aware of the consequences. You are now free from a life of denial. You are in control of your bloating. You’re welcome.

Thank Buddha for gluten-free oreo cookies. Last week I ate a whole box. Good thing they’re expensive; I won’t be buying them again any time soon. Make these instead.

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2 thoughts on “Some Reflections on Not Being Able To Eat Things

  1. I love the rhythm of this entry; I can feel all these thoughts and feelings swirling through my head as I read it. It’s very genuine.
    I think the difference between “food avoiders” and “normal people” is that “food avoiders” are more conscious of what does them harm and many “normal people” don’t realize why they’re in pain. They LOVE to complain about how that rich dessert makes them bloated, but they won’t EVER give it up (or give up badgering you for passing). And as you mention, then they turn their noses up at extremely healthy and naturally nutritious foods and drinks like fresh coconut water. “Oh, but I can’t stand THAT.” Priorities… Our taste buds change as we mature and start making different choices. I grew up with Italian food all the time and was an INTENSE lover of cheese–I haven’t touched dairy in over a year and honestly don’t crave it anymore. It can be dangerous to wake sleepers though; they’ll realize one day or another…or not. The people who understand are the keepers.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Kendra! You’re right, a huge part of learning to eat healthier is training yourself to crave healthy foods. And understanding that eating isn’t always about pleasure all the time; it’s fuel for our bodies, not solely recreation! Learning to let go of cheese… a huge one and necessary at the same time. Try goat and sheep’s cheese and see if that works out! I find I can tolerate it now and then and I’m SOOO appreciative of its existence. Goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, olives and gluten-free pasta, where would I be without you??

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