Thursday, October 12, 2017

When being gluten-free gets old

It's now been well over a decade (11 3/4 years, but who's counting?) since I was diagnosed with celiac.  Of course, it was hard to learn what gluten was, where it was hidden in foods, how to eat out, and most importantly, how to travel while following a strict gluten-free diet.  However, in time it came to be second nature for me, as it does for most of us.  And, with two other family members going off gluten within my first year, I had a pretty easy transition overall.

But there are days when being gluten-free simply isn't fun.  Sometimes it's just annoying and other times it's super stressful.  I'd be hard pressed to believe anyone who didn't experience gluten-free fatigue as I prefer to call it.  I mean, let's get real...there are scores of people with celiac disease (confirmed) who are consuming as much gluten as ever - all the while downing Pepto Bismol (or a similar otc medication) in order to keep their symptoms manageable.  For those of us who take having celiac (which can and absolutely does cause certain cancers) seriously, and would not touch gluten on purpose with a 10-foot pole, it can get weary to remain vigilant 24/7.

There's always a wedding (or worse, a funeral), a family reunion, a work event, a holiday party...well, you get the gist.  There is almost always some event coming up which requires you to do something extra to prepare to attend it.  You need to find out who's supplying the food and what, if anything is safe for you to eat.  If not, can you take your own food in without causing a ruckus with the host or establishment.  Or do you need to sneak any and everything you plan to eat in your purse and possibly your husband's pockets?  Once there, you might need to find a place to quickly nibble on whatever you've smuggled in (yes, it feels like you're smuggling) so that no one takes notice and makes a big deal about it.

I'm convinced that people don't mean to be rude and inappropriate when they inquire about what happens when you consume gluten by mistake.  They are just ignorant....give them a break.  Had I not been the one diagnosed, I might be as ignorant as the next guy.  In years past, I would usually change the subject so as not to make anyone uncomfortable.  But that is probably part of the problem. We don't like talking about things that make others squirm. If we did, MANY more people would understand what celiac disease is by now.  These days, I simply reply that I might throw up for anywhere from an hour to three, depending on how much gluten I've ingested unknowingly.  Sometimes, if I'm feeling generous, I'll add something like "it's like a kid who ate way too much junk at the fair...everything comes up the way it went down"...and I add a little chuckle.

Yes, being gluten-free does gets old from time to time, but I try to look as the positive side of it. At least I'm not out there making myself sick, causing myself serious and possibly irreparable harm, like so many countless others are doing this very minute.  When I remember that, I count my blessings to be sure ;)



Best gluten-free "Ritz" style cracker!

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