Gluten-Free, A Lonely World At Times

Gluten-Free, A Lonely World At Times
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Being gluten intolerant can put one in a lonely place. There you are, out with your friends at a favorite restaurant or on vacation, and everyone is ordering mindlessly from the menu…and you are not. They can’t decide over the eggplant parmigiana or the calzone, the shrimp tempura or the pork lo mein. Gluten hides in everything, not only in a piece of bread, but in bouillon cubes, spices, preservatives, condiments and more. After everyone has ordered, you are still anxiously trying to find something. You don’t wish to hold everyone else up, so you order grilled chicken, no seasoning with a dry salad, vinegar and oil on the side…sigh. No pleasure in that! The thrill is gone, and it worsens when everyone’s delicious tasting food arrives…insert another sigh here.

Food choices for most people don’t take much brain work. If you are crave it, you order it. That was me, my whole life, but it suddenly changed when I discovered I had an allergy to gluten and worse, egg. I was told I had an auto immune disease. My antibodies were attacking my thyroid. I opted for no medicine, under a doctor’s care, and instead changed my diet and took special supplements to heal my gut and remove the inflammation. This Italian New Yorker foodie was devastated! No pizza? No bagels? Are you kidding me!? When your entire life revolved around food, how on earth do you say good bye to foods that can never touch your lips again?! This sent me into a downward spiral of sadness. I felt lonely, and a bit odd. So after my little pity party, I got up, brushed myself off and seeked out gluten-free recipes and alternatives. On top of that, I needed to be grateful I didn’t have a worse disease, or loss of eye sight. Things could have been worse, so I just needed to deal with it. I will be blogging gluten-free recipe alternatives in the future too.

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Most restaurants are starting to cater to those with allergies. Disney is definitely one of them, but let’s face it, we are not at Disney all the time. Some of us don’t live in a health-concious state like Oregon or California either. The key to being gluten-free is learning to not eat processed foods. Most of us, in our lifetime have eaten processed foods, foods taken far away from their natural state, like cold cuts or a bowl of cereal. So learning about eating whole healthy foods is key to a gluten-free and healthier lifestyle. It is also awesome losing weight along the way too and feeling better.

 

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So here are some quick tips for eating out:

  • Ask for a gluten-free/allergy menu.
  • Ask server for options such as an iceburg lettuce wrap instead of a bun, instead of macaroni and cheese as a  side, get a baked potato, corn tortillas vs flour tortillas, rice instead of pasta.
  • Ask to speak to the chef/cook about seasonings, ingredients, explain your allergies (most reputable restaurants will be accommodating, if not, don’t eat there.)
  • Bring your own condiments. (I always bring my own gluten-free soy sauce when out eating sushi.)
  • When in doubt, order a whole food meal, ie: a protein with veggies, baked potato or salad, with only salt n pepper seasonings and oil n vinegar.

On my health journey, I had to educate myself a lot about better food choices and how many preservatives and certain foods can cause inflammation and other health issues. It made life for me much easier. I look at all this as a journey and new experience to find ways to live a healthier lifestyle. So no more pity parties for me. I just seek out better choices.

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Here I am on my 50th birthday, celebrating with my spouse and pilot, Holly and our friends! (I am in the back, standing up in black, Holly in red.) We ate at Buca di Beppo. I called ahead of time, they had gluten-free pasta and let me know what sauces were safe for me to have. I brought a vegan, gluten-free chocolate birthday cake made from a local, vegan baker too from Vegan Vee! So in the end, while everyone ordered their delicious dishes, I too did the same. I enjoyed my seafood gluten-free pasta and soaked up the wonderful feeling, bite by bite, eating my chocolate cake! It was a perfect birthday…and I didn’t feel lonely at all.

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Comments

  1. What a great post!! Thanks for writing about this subject! Looking forward to more of your posts as I love your humor and style of writing.

  2. My partner and I were Vegan (AND gluten free) for 6 months and no doubt, even in Southern California, it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever attempted. We are, however, still alive and still married. She didn’t have to do any of the cooking (or the shopping, not that I’m bitter), so all she had to do was eat what I cooked, whether she liked it or not (usually not). Thankfully, we do not have any gluten, dairy or egg intolerances, we simply decided to try that lifestyle to see if we would feel better. Maybe we didn’t give it enough time (although, I thought 6 months was a long time), but the lifestyle change did not seem to have any effect.

    I think you summed it up really well for people on how it feels to go out to eat and not be able to really eat what you want and share in the joy of getting together with people you like and eat what you want. If we were going out with people, we would make sure we perused menus online in advance and make calls to the restaurant, if need be. Thankfully, gluten intolerance and Celiac disease have gotten so much press and even if you have to order some things online, GF alternatives are available – and more so every day. I think people should try to adopt a Vegan or GF (or both) day in their week the way some people have adopted “Meatless Mondays”. It forces people to research and try something new you might never have tried before.

    Great post (and I know you’re not looking for pity and not to sound dramatic), but I think you’re brave. People take so much comfort in food (maybe more than one would ever realize), and to have to completely retool what you eat and find new things you love as much as the old things you used to enjoy is not easy. At least some of these GF bakers have it down (literally) to a science and are able to make things just as good as regular desserts! Good luck to you and can’t wait to see what kind of recipes you post!

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