Reflections on a GF life…

I woke up this morning dreaming about Steakburgers.  Soft, warm, toasty buns, meat that’s probably chock full of fillers… absolutely divine.  Maybe a nice strawberry malt on the side…

Of course, this isn’t the first frustration I’ve had in my life as a Celiac.  At restaurants, my friends eagerly chomp down on whatever is today’s special while I’m still asking questions about what’s in the food of a waiter whose eyes have long since glazed over.  The obligatory 25% tips… fear of Chinese food… my chronic obsession with which restaurants are using what kinds of fillers… it’s tough for us, and the rest of the world doesn’t really realize it.

For some people, eating is something they do just to stay alive.  For others, like me and probably you, too, it’s about FLAVOR and TEXTURE and new combinations never tried before.  It’s a culinary adventure!!  We, however, are more like culinary couch potatoes, confined to specific food families when eating out, mixing things that were never intended to be mixed when staying in.  I just thank my lucky stars that unlike a lot of Celiacs, gluten appears to be my ONLY issue.

Oh, how I love a muffin!  How I swoon for cheesecake and bagettes and biscotti!  Al dente for my pasta and another dunk from the soy pot for my stir-fry.  Oh, the days and nights I miss it… the greasy, sleezy dreams of Big Macs.

I have figured out a pretty sure-fire way of determining what foods I used to regularly eat that contain gluten.  If I crave it, deep down to my bones, it has got to be chock-full.  At first, I thought it was just a coincidence.  Being the anal retentive I am, I decided to do a statistical study of this theory.  I’d have a food craving, record it, research it and look for offending ingredients.  95% of the time, I was craving that thing that used to eat my insides.  It’s like crack (on a bun)!

How do we detox 100% from gluten?  How do we leave those gluten-filled lives of happiness and delicious wonder behind?  I’m trying to smother my cravings with corn, quinoa, rice and nut flour.  It’s just not the same.  Grandma’s Snickerdoodles just taste funny when I make them with rice flour.  They neither snicker nor doodle.  More cinnamon, more cream of tartar?  Maybe.  Only time and experimentation will say.

I might get married this year, if I can bring myself to make my own GF wedding cake.  GF appetizers, GF place settings, GF wedding decorations, GF envelopes, GF invitations… is this the center of my life now?

We went out for Thai food yesterday to a place where I hadn’t been since I was diagnosed.  My favorite, absolute favorite there was the pineapple fried rice.  I knew that was a no go.  I asked the waitress what was GF, frustrated because I knew the likely answers.  I ended up getting a greens salad with a sticky, sweet and spicy dressing made by the owner herself.  My mate later commented that he had no idea there was so much gluten in Thai food.  I held back the urge to remind him that there’s so much gluten in anything that’s served in public.

Of the restaurants we frequent, the only one that doesn’t make me feel like I’m in an internment camp is the Indian place.  They have a buffet going on and it’s always a really generous spread.  There are never fewer than 4 dishes that I both love and are GF.  Of course, places like our local Shoney’s are kind enough to try to accomidate me, but I always feel so bad for the waitress.  I have been there and if the cooks are having a bad day, special orders hurt all the way down.

As if that weren’t bad enough, I am in the middle of finishing my BS in history (I returned to school after I became too ill to work anymore) and wanted to also study archaeology.  However, due to the length of time spent on digs and the limitations to what can and cannot be accomidated, that dream is out.  Gone, gone, out the door all because of gluten.

Damn you, Gluten!  DAMN YOU!  Damn you cookies and cakes and bread and bologna and anything else that makes life easier to deal with.  Damn you wine coolers and restaurant margaritas and beers!  Damn you Hamburger Helper and pre-seasoned chicken and hams and microwave dinners!  Damn you all!  Damn you food manufacturers who don’t properly label your food!  DAMN YOU POTATO CHIP MAKERS WHO USE WHEAT FLOUR!  Damn you for making me feel like a weirdo, like an outcast.  Damn you for making my friends embarrassed to eat in public with me.

But, we have a leg up on our fellow Americans, too.  If you think about it, we generally eat a healthier diet (GF products are expensive and aren’t for every meal), we probably have a higher consumption of vegetables, fruits, beans and other grains like rice and quinoa.  While we were malnourished, we are now better nourished than our American counterparts.  We can’t just run through McDonald’s or Wendy’s for a greasy burger… we have to plan our food out carefully and eat salads and delight in the many fantastic fruits that many Americans have never even heard of!

By the Gods, we have Boomi Bars and toasted coconut and macadamia nuts and corn flour and all sorts of beans and potatoes and onions.  We are blessed with abundance (even when we’re wearing our restaurant blinders) and good, healthy food.  We cannot, like other Americans, make owning stuff a higher priority than eating good, healthy food.  We have the unique opportunity to treat our bodies and our spouses and our children with good nutrition at home.  We are not McDonald’s Mothers.  Our children know what celery is and they love it!

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