In a little over a week, I will hit the one year anniversary of the day that I decided to try a gluten free diet. As I was flipping through some of my old Christmas recipe books, I started thinking about this gluten free life of mine. What have I learned? How do I feel? Will I ever be able to eat gluten again? How have I come to terms with this?
I have learned a lot this past year. Gluten is in so many products on our grocery store shelves. My first unintentional gluten exposure was to tomato soup. Why would tomato soup have wheat in it? I don’t know. I have found very few commercially made soups that do not contain wheat. That was very surprising. I have also learned that I can’t cheat. Even a little bit. I knew this from my sister, but it was one of those things I had to learn the hard way by myself. This leads me to the things I have learned involving other people.
People assume that a little bit will be OK. It isn’t. They automatically assume that because I do not have Celiac disease (well, I don’t think so anyway) I do not have to be as strict. How how I wish this was the case! These assumptions do not upset me. However, I do get upset when people think that this is a fad, and I am doing it to be trendy. My husband was one of these people, but now he is a believer. He comforts me now when I am grieving some of my favorite foods and is very supportive even as he grieves the loss of some of his own favorites.
Let’s take cinnamon rolls as an example. It is been a family tradition for me to make these wonderful cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My family was feeling a little sad because I didn’t want to make them, and because I love them, I made them. This was poor planning on my part because I did not have something for myself. I was angry and bitter. They did nothing wrong. I should have had an alternative for myself. Lesson learned. My husband told me not to make them for Christmas this year. I may try my hand at a gluten free recipe.
I have also found that I have to discuss my reasons for eating gluten free all the time. I don’t mind so much, but it can be embarrassing talking about all the pain I had before. It seems so trivial. Like I should have just taken some Motrin and moved on, but it was so much more than that. And now, I feel so great. Sometimes I forget what it was like and think that I may be healed, but if I cheat I quickly remember. It just isn’t worth it. My family deserves a wife and mother that feels good.
I also have learned to eat before attending a potluck. I never expect people to plan around my crazy eating. I bring food that I can eat. And it doesn’t hurt my feelings if there is nothing for me, but please don’t be offended if I do not eat.
Vacation eating is more challenging. There is no more hopping in the car and stopping wherever we want. It requires more planning and does take some of the joy out of vacationing for me. Perhaps in time I will get better at it. Disney was pretty easy all things considered. Williamsburg was a little more difficult. I think as more people become aware it will get even easier.
I do have to cook more frequently. This probably isn’t a bad thing. We eat very little prepackaged dinners. I still buy my kids a lot of packaged junk food, but oh well. I am not baking as many snacks anymore because I am already in the kitchen enough, so I make it up to them by buying them some of their favorite high fructose corn syrup items. Please don’t judge me.
I never expect to be able to eat gluten again. Some days I still get sad. This has been a difficult time for me with all the holiday baking. I have been finding alternatives and some are very good. For awhile I bought many prepackaged gluten free items. Lately, I have stopped doing that. I don’t crave the bread products like I used to. (excluding donuts and cinnamon rolls) I buy a couple of loaves of Udi’s bread a month which seems to be enough for me. I have also found that if I put my mind to it and actually bake something it is always superior to what is in the store.
Overall, it has been quite an eye opening year. I have learned so much. I feel a hundred times better than I did this time last year! I am thankful for all the gluten free bloggers with their wonderful recipes that they share. I am also very glad that there are so many alternatives for me. I expect that the next year will be even better as I learn to cook new foods and learn how to alter my favorites.