I keep seeing articles lately about the myth of gluten free, that really no one except those with pure 100% doctor diagnosed celiac should be avoiding gluten. That it’s a scam, the newest health fad, an expensive way to be trendy. Well, they got one thing right: it sure as hell is expensive. The grocery budget is second only to the mortgage.
Why does it matter to anyone if someone else is gluten free? Seriously, why? That makes about as much sense as getting your knickers in a knot about someone only wearing cotton because other options are uncomfortable or painful or make them break into a rash. Why do you care?
No, I was not 100% doctor diagnosed with celiac when I went gluten free 6 1/2 years ago. I’d been working with my doctor to figure out why I felt like the bottom of a worn out shoe all the time. The best he could come up with was stress, and to get more sleep, eat well, exercise. Well, I was already sleeping and eating well, and it’s pretty hard to exercise when even pushing the accelerator on the van to make it go vroom exhausted me. Western medicine fail. I started seeing an acupuncturist and the first thing he had me do was a two week food elimination detox. It was a very long two weeks; for several days in the middle there I was essentially a gluten free vegan. I got very good at rice, and started to feel like I was coming alive again. But funny thing as I started adding foods back in. No problem with dairy or eggs, but gluten? I had an english muffin for breakfast, and an hour later practically drove the van into a ditch because of the mind-blowing exhaustion. That scene repeated itself several times as I gradually came to accept that gluten was the culprit. I could have had the celiac blood test or endoscopy to confirm, but it would have meant returning to gluten for a minimum three months beforehand. No way I was doing that, I finally felt alive again.
I lose my mind when I eat gluten. No, really, it’s as though my mind is just somewhere else and I can’t remember where I sat it down. Full-body exhaustion, mind-blowing fatigue, brain fog so strong I cannot complete a thought for love or money, irrational anger at everyone and everything, increased levels of frustration, and an intense desire to crawl into a cave and not move until sometime in the next century. That’s for at least three days, and then the stomach problems hit for another few. I can easily lose a week to ten days to gluten poisoning. But it’s not celiac because an MD didn’t diagnosis it, right?
For the most part, I’m ok with eating gluten free. I’ve found great recipes, workarounds, and blogs to completely revamp how I cook. Usually it’s not a huge problem. Until it is. Like when Tom is out of town and there is little in the house to eat…I can’t just order carryout and have it delivered to my doorstep. Or when we’re all out running errands or at some sort of large event…we can’t just find the nearest hot dog shack or concession stand for lunch. Or when we’re traveling and need to bring our own food, though that also has a lot to do with Andy’s dairy and corn sensitivities (but also gluten!). It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, and even though I try for it not to be, it’s limiting as hell.
I used to be an adventurous eater. My dad introduced me to sushi when I was 8, loooooong before it was a trendy food and available at every supermarket deli. I’ve eaten chicken feet, think frogs legs are overrated, and loved to find little out of the way places for meals. A traditional Japanese breakfast is bliss. I can’t do that anymore and think I’ll eat safely and it breaks my heart. We stick to chain restaurants because there’s a greater likelihood there will be some sort of gluten free option for me (and, again, dairy/corn free for Andy). I miss eating without wondering if it’s going to steal so many days from me.
So when I read articles stating that it’s all in my head or just a diet fad (trust me, I have not lost weight being gluten free) or just a way to scam the easily spooked, I get a little pissed.
How I eat and what I eat does not concern anyone other than me and maybe my family because they eat what I make. I appreciate how celiac awareness has made it so much easier to find gluten free food (not so easy back in 2008), but the inevitable backlash just really isn’t necessary. Back off. Why I eat the way I do isn’t available for your comment. No, I’ve not been 100% doctor diagnosed as celiac, but based on the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, I have enough of the symptoms and/or conditions associated with celiac to warrant concern.
I’ll be happy when social media and the bored press move on to the next thing to bitch about. I have no idea why celiac and gluten sensitivities are rising rapidly, but gluten free is here to stay. I’m thrilled about that; it means I can make more of the foods I miss here at home.
I just miss how it used to be.