When you have to eat gluten free, often times you feel very isolated. Stop and think for just a moment of all the times in your life where food is involved. Then, imagine yourself in each of these different scenarios:
*Eating dinner over someone's house
*Holiday dinners with friends and family
Food is involved in each one of these situations. In most cases, there is no way of knowing what each of the food offered contains, or, in the case of birthday cake or pizza, you already know that it is simply off-limits to you.
Unless you personally made the food, you have no idea what ingredients were used, and you are forced to ask many, many questions to try to determine what exactly is in each dish.
If you are a normal person (like I used to be), you don't think anything of eating whatever food you want to at potlucks, or over people's houses, and you don't have to religiously study all the food labels in the grocery store. If you accidentally eat something that isn't "good" for you, you probably won't regret that decision to eat that particular food for hours upon hours, or even days. Think about the worse case of stomach flu you have EVER had, and that is about close to the picture of me within about 2-3 hours of eating something that contains gluten.
When I first started eating gluten free about 7 years ago, I didn't know anyone else who had to eat that way. I got in touch with a local Celiac disease support group, and met others who, like myself, weren't avoiding gluten because it was some new fad diet they could try out to lose a few pounds. They were avoiding gluten so they could avoid ending up in the hospital (again) or to avoid getting cancer. When you have Celiac disease, consuming gluten is like consuming rat poison. Would YOU willingly eat rat poison? Unless you are a glutton for punishment.....probably not.
After awhile, I became more familiar with what I could safely eat, and what I could not. I wasted more money that I care to add up on food that was sub-par at best. When a tiny loaf of bread costs almost $5, you think very carefully before buying it, just so you can try one bite, find out it tastes like sawdust, and throw it in the trash!
Fast forward to today. Today, I was stopping in to Meijer to get one of my gluten free staples: English muffins. The last couple of times I went to purchase some, they were out of them. I am a creature of habit, and I eat the same things all the time (other than dinner) until I am sick to death of them, then I move onto something new. English muffins have been part of my diet for a little while now, and when all of the sudden......POOF! No English muffins? Tell me it ain't so!
Today, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I even saw some actual GRASS peaking through the melted snow. It was brown, but it was still grass!
I had a little spring in my step, and high hopes that today would be the day that my beloved English muffins would be in their usual place in the freezer section.
As I rounded the corner to the aisle where they are kept, I saw another woman reaching for the Udi's bread. I am a "chatty" person, and think nothing of making idle small talk with random strangers. I asked her if she also had to eat gluten free, and she said that she did. We went on to discuss the reasons why we each liked our particular choice. She asked me if the English muffins actually tasted like English muffins,and I said that while it had been over 7 years since I had tasted an English muffin, it was as close to the real thing as I could remember. I grabbed two packages, and went off to get my Tinkyada spiral noodles. Yes, they must be spiral. I think they taste better.
As I was standing in the check out line, I started up a conversation with the woman behind me. She told me that she baked cookies for a living and sold them at places like farmer's markets. She worked alone, and she mentioned that she did quite well. I asked her if she made any gluten free cookies, and she said that she was just starting to include them. She made peanut butter chocolate chip, and was working on perfecting a snickerdoodle cookie next. I also asked her if they were good sellers, and she told me that the few times she had taken them to sell, she had completely sold out of them in just a short time!
I encouraged her to keep making them, and that she should even think about making more varieties. She mentioned after the snickerdoodle, she wanted to try a cranberry, macadamia nut, oatmeal cookie. YUM!
In the few minutes I was in the store, I encountered 2 different people who either had to eat gluten free, or were striving to make the lives of those of us who do a little more pleasant.
A few weeks ago, my pastor came up to me at church and mentioned how, now that he knew that I had to eat gluten free, he was starting to notice all the places that offered gluten free food. He has even arranged for there to be gluten free communion bread for me, and anyone else who needs to eat gluten free. How sweet is that?!
More and more restaurants are beginning to offer gluten free menus for their customers. I recently saw on a television commercial that Olive Garden (a place that I have not frequently visited since my diagnosis because of their very limited menu for people like me) is now offering gluten free pasta. Did you hear that? GLUTEN FREE PASTA!
It is definitely a new day for gluten free people!
The thing I miss the very most though are donuts. I told my girls that, if I knew for sure that I was going to die (I would have to know FOR SURE because it is NOT worth it any other way) the one thing that I would eat would be a real, honest-to-goodness, donut. I am sure that some day, when I make it to Heaven, God will have the most delicious donut with the name "Amiee" written on it, waiting just for me. I told my girls that if I do happen to die, I want to be holding a donut (preferably something chocolate) in my hand when I am in my casket.
I am only partially kidding...