I read this really good blog post the other day from a gluten free ‘Mom’ in the states. It actually made me cry. I so recognised the feelings she describes of just how difficult it can be to give up what is essentially a food, why we are so emotionally connected to it, and why we constantly crave eating something we know makes us poorly. For ‘gluten’ here, read any food you have to give up, or read ‘many foods’. I said to someone the other day it is like a grieving process we go through. It is, isn’t it? Even though people say ‘it’s just food’ which makes me look at them in a withering sort of way. It really isn’t about the food, it’s about the complete life overhaul.
Gluten is not just a highly addictive grain that civilization has cultivated and consumed for thousands of years; it is not “just one” of many foods. It’s not about the food, never has been, and never will be. There are plenty of other foods to eat, that’s not the point.
Gluten is part of your soul, and every time you smell fried chicken or baked bread, every time you find yourself at an event with gluten as an ingredient in a traditional meal, every time you have to decline an invitation or move heaven and earth to participate, you are giving up part of your soul. You are reminded that not only is the current world not designed for you, but that so much of your fondly remembered past was not designed for you either. And then you become overwhelmed considering a future as an alien, a stranger in the world without anchor or reprieve…
…You understand why others “don’t understand,” even though in a secret place you yearn for them to finally “get it.” Your heart becomes heavy when you have to watch your loved ones continue on in family traditions without you by their side. You begin to feel as though your mother has chosen food over you. You start to confuse genuine looks of sympathy and concern from other people as subtle hints that there is something wrong with you, that “how dare you burden your family with this disease”…as though you had any control over it. And you want it all to PLEASE JUST GO AWAY!
It’s this kind of feeling that makes doing this blog important for me, and I hope you too. It makes me feel less alone and more connected with people who know instantly what I am on about; I don’t have to hide it or explain. I hope in 2013 to start some regular face to face meetings where we can meet informally and just chinwag/moan/learn etc etc – our own TGF support group, if you like. It’s so important.
I went to a ‘do’ this weekend and thought hard to come up with a short explanation of why I was bringing my own food and wine that would hopefully brook no questions. Sure enough, I think it took roughly 2 minutes for someone to start taking the ‘p’. The quick answer was:
“I have a severe form of coeliac disease which has damaged my insides so I can react very easily to lots of things. It’s safer if I bring my own food, thanks.”
If anyone goes on, my quip is: “would you laugh in the same way at a diabetic who couldn’t eat sweet things..?” I am also sometimes tempted to add: “would you like me to be sick all over you? Well don’t try and make me eat it then.” Usually shuts them up! (They don’t know I wouldn’t actually be sick but it’s fun seeing their faces – naughty girl!)
In fact, I am having my own Christmas do in December and I actually had requests from some of them there if we could have the food I took on Saturday! I win.
Anyway, have a read of this post here. It’s really about why people cheat on traditional gluten free diets but it makes a lot of emotional sense to me. Get your tissues ready…