I have been gluten free for nearly one year. This past year has been full of gluten related challenges: adjusting to a whole new diet, changing my social interactions, developing a thicker skin for others attitude toward me and my choices, etc … But I’m hear to tell ya, one year later, gluten free still isn’t easy! Learning what foods are gluten free and which ones aren’t was the easiest part for me. The hardest part has been the emotional aspect of gluten free living. And honestly, I don’t know if it will get any easier: it’s always gonna sting when I have to turn down ordering pizza with my fellow grad students or when someone rolls their eyes when I say I’m gluten free.
This morning I had a particularly hurtful telephone conversation with some one near and dear to me that went a little something like this:
Me: What’s up?
Them: Deciding what to have for lunch … thinking about Chinese. You can’t have that, huh?
Them: None of it?
Me: Only at certain restaurants that have a dedicated gluten free menu and safe kitchen practices. It’s pretty much like that for any type of food that I would go out to eat.
Them: Oh, that sucks.
Me: (in my head) … REALLY??? I had NO idea how much it sucked not to go out an enjoy your favorite foods with your favorite people at your favorite restaurants … thanks for stating the obvious.
Them: (scoff) I don’t remember you having these issues when you were little.
Me: I remember saying that bread gave me heart burn from a young age, but it was always dismissed. Everyone said bread couldn’t give me heartburn.
Them: (scoff) Well, I don’t remember any of that. And you ate lots of bread.
Me: (dumbfounded) Yes, I used to eat a lot of things that made me sick …
The conversation didn’t go much beyond that. I was hurt by this individuals insensitivity and dismissive attitude towards my experiences and issues with food. This is someone I considered to be in my corner; someone I thought really understood the effects gluten
had has on me both physically & emotionally; someone I have discussed the gluten free diet with at great lengths (multiple times); someone that talked me through some of the worst pre-gluten free days when throwing up all morning left me with little energy and I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day. This was the person who gave me strength to keep going. This has also been the person I vent to when gluten free isn’t easy, when I feel awkwardly left out of social situations and the like. When people questioned my medical need for being gluten free, this was the person I turned to to lift my spirits and assure me that I was doing the best thing I could for me, for my health, for my body. But today, in this one moment, this person has never made me feel like more of an outcast …
After driving a bit too fast down the highway, screaming GroupLove’s Tongue Tied at the top of my lungs, I felt a bit better. Then, I headed over to IamJtheblog and read her post on dealing with the social aspects of gluten free living. I’m going to quote J here because I couldn’t say it any better myself:
I am going to love myself and try my darnedest not to let others make me feel that I am not awesome because I am awesome!
Yup, I am pretty awesome! And I’m gonna let my gluten free pride flag fly (seriously, someone design us a flag!)