You start feeling like a freak anyway, when you can’t eat wheat due to celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or health conditions…
…like driving around with family or friends trying to decide where to eat. Someone inevitably says, “Vanessa gets to decide. It has to be somewhere she feels is safe.” The world-revolves-around-me freak.
Or, you sit down at a restaurant and tell the waiter that you need a “gluten-free” meal and you just get this blank look. So, you briefly explain it. Then he brings you your salad with croutons, or garlic bread perched on top of your entree. And he is annoyed when you have to send it back. (Good idea: Call ahead and ask the restaurant if they can accommodate a GF meal. A lot of times they like the heads up. And we always tip more because it just plain takes longer and it is a pain in the butt.) The annoying freak.
Sometimes the waiter comes back and says, “I talked to the chef, and about all you can have is the salad without any dressing or flavor, the boring chicken – plain without sauce, and the lackluster vegetables steamed without the seasoning.” (My interpretation anyway.) Okay, I’ll take that. The foodie inside of me struggles to maintain.
One time my husband and I were visiting my daughter up in Folsom. She made a delicious gluten-free (GF) meal for us the night before, (thank you Tara). The next day I was foraging around in her refrigerator looking for leftovers when my husband called to me that it was time to go visit some friends who lived nearby. Knowing that he had not yet eaten and had In & Out burgers on his mind, I told him that I was looking for something to eat. He replied a little impatiently, “We need to get going. You can eat some cashews in the car.” WELL, that made me crazy angry because that is what I mostly ate the day before on the drive up. “Then you are not allowed to get anything hot and nutritious!”, I said with eyes blazing and nostrils flaring. Unfortunately, this has become a family joke. The hysterical freak.
I wish I could go back to the days where I could walk into any ole place and order what I want without drawing all of this attention to myself. I hate to be so bothersome. Life can be humbling. Sigh.
It doesn’t end there, my woe-is-me saga, that is. Even in my own home I began to feel like a pariah. I became more anti-wheat. After all, I read that as little as 20 parts per million of gluten can make someone who is sensitive sick. I am not sure what that looks like but wheat crumbs and a dusting of wheat flour on the counter makes me nervous. I bought a GF toaster and GF cutting boards as well as made NO DOUBLE DIPPING rules for things like mayo and peanut butter too. Shortly after that, we made our whole kitchen GF. We felt we had to, but I still feel like: The paranoid freak.
I am very thankful though, that I finally have the diagnosis, and that I came to know that I cannot eat gluten. Before that my health was really spiraling down. That was quite a few years ago, and my health has greatly improved since then. I just need to learn to be more content with my gluten deficit and find joy in it. Maybe become more of a thankful freak.
If you are in this freak boat, I empathize with you. If you are a close relative I empathize with you too because your life is more complicated because of it too.
Note: Most of the content of this blog was originally posted in April 2014. Thankfully, it has become somewhat easier to eat gluten-free, but the truth is, one still feels like a freak at times.
Incidentally, I owe a lot to Mark Sisson, one of my favorite health guru’s, because when I came across the website Mark’s Daily Apple it was like balm to my soul because Mark and his primal followers typically don’t eat any wheat or gluten. So I felt like I had discovered my tribe. His book, The Primal Blueprint, is such a classic guide in the Paleo/Primal world, and I highly recommend it for tons of great info on healthy eating and lifestyle.
In closing, may I offer you with the thought that I comfort myself with: I am pretty sure that on my first day in heaven Jesus is going to serve me a big loaf of bread!
In the meantime, freaks unite!
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Check out some of my other articles about gluten-free living below: