My ONE YEAR anniversary of getting sick is coming up in December. Since going gluten free in April, I have never felt better than I do now. I will NEVER go back to eating wheat because of how sick I was and how amazing the benefits have been to my body. That being said, living gluten free has its annoyances. I want to take the time to share and vent about the daily battles living gluten free has.
1. Our uneducated society. Due to our country’s diet trends a fads, “gluten free” has become at the top of the list. Many fad dieters eat gluten free because they believe it is better for you than products with gluten, which is true, but there’s a catch. Your diet needs to be full of gluten free foods without eating a diet full of “gluten free” foods. Here’s what I mean: I like to eat eggs and bacon for breakfast, homemade chicken, veggie and brown rice soup for lunch, and salmon with asparagus for dinner…all of which are NATURALLY gluten free; whereas others have the misconception that eating a gluten free diet should look like this: gluten free cereal for breakfast, a grilled cheese on gluten free bread and gluten free chips for lunch, and gluten free pasta with gluten free alfredo sauce for dinner. Just because some SAYS “gluten free” on a package does not mean that is not refined and processed like any other packaged food. Many do not understand that gluten is a protein that wreaks havoc in a gluten intolerant persons’ gut. I would be sick for days if I consumed something with gluten, which is why those packaged gluten free foods are a treat for me. Just like any dieter should occasionally treat themselves to a cupcake, donut, or salty snack, I like to do the same when it comes to “gluten free” foods. I will take my own gf pretzels or cupcakes to a party that I know I will need a snack or dessert. I go through phases (especially during pregnancy) where I get tired of eating eggs every morning so I will throw in a GF chia waffle. It’s all about give and take like any other diet. But just because it says “gluten free” does NOT mean it is healthy for you.
2. Going out to dinner. This ties into the first one of our society being uneducated about gluten and its effect on the body. Going out is ROUGH…especially when the restaurant everyone wants to go to is just not a good fit for the health conscious. The part that many restaurants do not understand is that cross contamination is what GF people worry about most (unless you are doing this for the fad). I can have potato skins and French fries and salads and a lot of other things on the menu. But I can’t have French fries that are fried in the same fryer as your BREADED chicken strips. And I can’t have that salad that the cook just “removed” the croutons off the top. The trace amounts of gluten will make me sick…and this is why I have issues with the “FAD.” The fad dieters, who do not get the same reaction, say they are gluten free but are actually getting a lot of gluten and don’t even know it. It’s just a lack of understanding on WHY someone should be gluten free or not. I think EVERYONE would benefit from a gluten free diet, but our society does not understand WHY and that’s where the problems come into play when going out.
3. “The (snobby) Fad.” I can’t tell you how many looks and stares and eye rolls I get when someone hears me say that I have to be gluten free. I do my best to not let it bother me, because that person has NO IDEA how sick I could get from the smallest amount of gluten, but in all honesty, it does bother me. I didn’t CHOOSE to be this way. People don’t get eye rolls for having a peanut allergy! But I again, blame it on the FAD. Gluten has gotten so much publicity over the past year that many people who don’t know my background don’t truly get it and will place a stereotype on the type of person who might live gluten free by choice (which isn’t right either). Some of my coworkers (although joking) make comments at me and poke fun because I brought my own lunch to our staff meeting while everyone else eats 4 slices of Papa John’s pizza (yes a blessing in disguise, I know). But the truth is, people just don’t get it! They don’t understand what the disease is all about. I have a good relationship with my coworkers now where I don’t care if they poke fun, but it’s so interesting to me that they make jokes about me one moment and then a moment later, ask for peanut free candy bar options for one of our coworkers with a peanut allergy. LACK. OF. KNOWLEDGE. Because of the fad, people think that I choose to live a gluten free lifestyle. I’m NOT blaming any of them. It’s nobody’s fault! It’s just SO interesting to me the reactions of our society to different intolerances.
Like I said before, I don’t have a problem with people who choose to be GF without having Celiac or Gluten Sensitivities. In fact, I think it’s great! I think it would benefit every type of person…if done CORRECTLY. People need to understand the reasons and science behind it before living this lifestyle.
What do YOU think? Be brutally honest! Do you put a stereotype on people who choose to be gluten free vs. need to be gluten free? How do you know if they are CHOOSING or not? Would you ever try living a GF life?