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?