I saw a Tumblr post today and it summed up my feelings. Now, it may not be the most heartwarming feelings, but I’m often bothered by the newly diagnosed (or those outside the GF community) that say stuff like “I CAN’T HAVE ANYTHING ANYMORE EVER. I HATE YOU CELIAC! NO MORE BREAD OR PIZZA 4EVA!” They usually say this when they are ranting on a blog (Tumblr is the one that I hear this the most), followed by “my life is terrible” “now what” “f-this f-that,etc.”
Now, I totally understand the grieving process when it comes to gluten. I was taught to mourn the loss of gluten, and then move on and embrace my new healthy life. I could wallow in the pity and cry wahhhhhh because it was the healthy thing to do, but then I had to get over it. However, when it comes to posts like this, I am the first to reassure them and say “yes, yes you can have everything.”
Now, that’s not saying that the gluten-free counterpart to the product you’re sad about tastes the same, it won’t. Mourn the loss of that. I still mourn the loss of my favorite dish from Olive Garden (seriously, Olive Garden, why!?!?!) or the bread from Dilly’s Deli, but I’m okay with that. I’ve learned to appreciate the direct substitutes that make my life easy while keeping me healthy (and alive).
Don’t think I’m heartless or inhumane by my anger when I see these posts. I also get angry when I hear my friends say “if I couldn’t eat gluten, I would die.” I just feel like there’s a lack of education about the quality of gluten-free substitutes that people don’t understand. So instead of having one ounce of happiness about a diagnosis, they just focus on what they can no longer eat – instead of seeing all the things they can.
I used to be like them, and I think that’s what makes me so angry/saddened. I used to tell people “oh yeah, that cookie is mine. You can tell it’s gluten-free because it’s awful.” and “you don’t want my gluten-free meal, it tastes terrible.” or when someone would say “is this gluten free” and ask about an object that clearly had gluten in it, I joked “is it good? Then it has gluten in it. Gluten is what makes things tastes good.” But I have challenged myself to stop perpetuating the myth that we eat sub-par foods to the rest of the universe. I assure you, we don’t. I often sit at the airport and see the rest of the world eating Cinnabons, Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas, french fries and burgers with drippings everywhere, and I look at whatever stuff I packed and feel like I’m really eating healthier. I’m forced to pack and I eat well – fresh fruit and veggies, KIND bars, Go Picnic Snacks, popcorn, etc. I truly feel fortunate about the food I’m eating – sometimes to the point where I say to myself “man, I really would never go back to gluten even if I could.” (Okay, sometimes I still really really want a Cinnabon.)
I’m not sure if I’m the only one that feels this way, but that’s honestly why I wanted to make an online gluten-free name for myself. I wanted to show people out there that there are products that taste good and are indeed gluten-free! I laugh when coworkers ask “have you tried gluten-free pizza before?” and I say “what kind?” – and I think they’re a little shocked to see that there are options in our community. I like to kill the myth that we can’t eat anything and perpetuate the stereotype that we have special food for us that can taste good too. I mean, sometimes it doesn’t taste good – let’s be honest – but I’ve had such good luck with products that I truly enjoy eating regularly that are safe for me. And that brings me to the ultimate question and why I wrote this…
Is there anything you still feel like you’re really missing out on by eating gluten-free? Is there ONE product that you haven’t been able to find a (pretty close at least) substitute for? What’s missing in our community? What are we really missing out on?
PS So what’s missing from this article is a shout out to those who had to do it 30, 20, 10, even 5 years ago before the market exploded (a shout out to my buddy Ken who has been doing it for 17 years now…). They deserve a standing ovation for what they had to accomplish. But someone who has gone GF in the past 4 years, I realize that I have so many things available to me. I am SO lucky.
Baklava and maple bars… But honestly not much..
So I’ve been wanting to make some GF baklava! I think filo dough is one of the hardest things to find GF. I bet if I did some google searching I’d be able to find a way to make it. And mmmmm maple bars.
Back about 10 years ago, there was a guy on the Celiac listserv that sold GF baklava. I had the pleaseure to buy it one time (he did mail order), and it was great. Then he fell off the face of the earth and I never heard anything about him. I’ve been GF sine 1974 and back then about the only commercial ‘cookie’ was Arrowhead Mills Rice Bran crackers. They were ‘good’ the first few years, but began to taste like flavored saw dust. We have it made today, whether you buy it or make it yourself.
Such a shame when products (and people..) disappear like that! Arrowhead crackers… Always seemed cardboardy and like they were meant to choke you with dry grittiness. But still have yet to find any boxed cookie to beat my homemade ones-perfected in the late 90’s Based off of Against the Grain cookbook 😉 also with lots of help from my wonderful Celiac Mom!
I’ve done some light searching for filo dough and filo dough recipes but haven’t found much 🙁 might just need to get creative 😉
I haven’t found a good substitute for brown gravy! I used to use McCormicks brown gravy mix…I miss it and all the meals I made with it. If someone has any recipes or products I could try I think I would kiss them!! My only issue now is cost of supplementing…because honestly the food is great for the most part, but expensive.
We use Delicious Golden quick gravy for Thanksgiving! http://www.thebetterhealthstore.com/Roads-End-Mix-Gravy-Golden-GF
And totally appreciate Erica’s note ^ I’ve been GF for 13 years and I was 8 when I was diagnosed-tough stuff. Also I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few people that have been GF for 35+ years! The GF community is very lucky with todays awareness! Shout out to GF Joe’s in Tacoma, WA- largest GF storefront in the nation!
HA, yes, it didn’t make it into the article, but I figured I’d put it as a side note 🙂 You seriously deserve a round of applause. People like you paved the way for us – just like how I hope I’m going to make the world an easier GF place for the people that get diagnosed after me!
🙂 having this strong GF community is so cool and thank you for your kind words!
I totally agree!! Although sometimes I just want to go with my family to the donut shop 🙁
I used to love Korean food, and one of the things I miss most is Bi Bim Bap, among other dishes. There is a spicy pepper paste that is essential, and I have searched and searched, and cannot find a version that is gluten free. Even if the ingredients didn’t list wheat or barley malt, a Korean friend told me not to risk it because labeling on Korean goods cannot be relied upon. I really, really miss it.
French bread baked to prefection. Don’t get me wrong GF bread has come a long way in the last few years. Yet I stil l miss a freshly baked bakery frenchange bread.
I don’t miss much of anything anymore minus a good chicken wing sauce. I am also dairy free so this has cut out most of the commercial sauces that are gluten free.
I have even converted some Cajun dishes this past year. Anything is doable at home. It is only restaurant dishes from the past that I miss now.
You know… I really don’t think the gluten-free food is as horrible as some tumblr people say it is. Yes, it’s different, I will not denie that. But, accepting is the keyword for gluten free food. You can keep those memories and tasts feelings of gluten full food vivid in your head and think about it all the time when you eat gluten free. Or you can just focus on the gluten free taste itself. I really don’t think it’s that bad.
(Oh, the ‘your’ in this part isn’t toward you, but to the people in general who complain;))
What I miss? Well. I’m right now in the “I miss everything that has gluten in it” mood. Being almost three months gluten free and I start to miss normal things (And I know it will past soon enough).
I just miss cake, pie and all those kind of stuff. They don’t sell those things a lot in Holland, and I just really miss to eat a slice of pie when my co-workers do. Or just eat a pizza that isn’t that dry.
But it;s just a phase. I will get over it soon enough.
And I need to just learn to bake my own apple mini pie soon. So I can eat as much pie as I want 😉
You know, I don’t think there is any one food I miss, because I can find or make substitutes for just about everything. I miss the convenience of being able to run and grab something if I forget my lunch, or decide to sleep in, or get stuck out somewhere for longer than originally anticipated. I’m not a lazy person by nature, but my mind is always shooting off in a million different directions, and having to be hyper-vigilant about food really requires a lot of effort.
So yeah, I miss convenience.
At the end of the day, we’re just talking about food. Yes, it stinks that we lose our freedom to eat whatever and wherever we want. But I’m with you. Mourn your loss and move on. Gluten free does NOT mean the end of good eating. It’s really a new beginning…and one that’s not as bad as it seems.
I don’t eat the starches—I still have not acquired a taste for them. I am eating more healthy. I was using the Atkins diet for 3 years and went off because my son was concerned. He said I looked too skinny and that Atkins was a quack. But when I went off the diet and starting adding bread, pasta, pie, etc., I noticed that I didn’t feel so good. It took 2 years because the symptoms were vague. I went to my doctor about a mole that had changed color overnight. He ordered lab work and found that I was very low in ferritin. Since I am post-menopausal, I should not be anemic. Well the gastro doc he sent me to did a colonoscopy and endoscopy. Colonoscopy was normal, however the biopsy for the endoscopy was not. I am not impressed with the diet because its what we should be eating. I still say ditch the starches and stick to protein, vegetables, and fruit. End of story.