Okay, call this my spring bitch rant. Need to freak safely and this blog is my vent place! First, let me say that I am great being gluten free. But, I am tired of justifying to people I barely know as to why I can’t eat gluten. I am very tired of friends and even family saying words that clearly imply that I might sometimes choose to eat things that contain gluten, say a slice of birthday cake or a tasty looking donut. That just makes me nearly crazy. Because that idea is nuts to someone with celiac; that you can just eat a slice of regular cake because you want it. That is nuts. If you have celiac it is a serious, life threatening allergy, not some diet choice. Eating gluten can give any combination of up to 200 symptoms. None of them are fun or worth having just for a few bites of dessert.
My reactions include burning pain in the area of my small intestine. I get extremely tired, to the point of being unable to function. My head aches and I can do nothing but lie down for a long time, generally several hours. It is sort of like a stomach flu and generally is unmistakably from accidental consumption of gluten. Other people with celiac may have different symptoms than me, some terrible and some rather mild. There is a wide range of how severe the symptoms are of someone with celiac. But even without any noticeable symptoms anyone with celiac who eats gluten (wheat, rye or barley) is damaging their small intestine in a serious and lasting way. That exposure to gluten can lead to malnutrition, leaky gut, cancer and a few other diseases. Celiac is serious business, not to be ignored or made light of. It totally pisses me off when someone makes light of my disease.
It used to annoy me when I went to a function and couldn’t eat anything. Two years ago I was at a church gathering with a 40 foot long table of desserts and not one single one that I could eat safely. I had a glass of water. That was all that was okay for me. These days there is often something safe I can eat. Sometimes people serve a vegetable tray or some cubed cheese. I always hope they will keep the crackers on a separate plate and get a dip that is marked gluten free. I was at a pastoral installation last week and there were two kinds of gluten free cake and gluten free rolls for sandwiches as well as a ton of fresh fruit and trays of raw veggies that I could enjoy. What a difference! I asked and discovered that someone in the congregation was celiac so they knew to serve some safe foods for those of us who cannot consume gluten.
It should be known that I really am glad to be eating safe for me. I feel so much better. I was amazed at how great my tummy felt about two weeks after I was totally gluten free in my diet. And that continues to this day. It’s wonderful to feel healthy. It was very difficult to be happy with a constantly painful gut. Now, 2 ¼ years later I have found many good recipes, many tasty ways to eat safely. There is not huge sacrifice in always eating gluten free. Getting that gf baking thing down these days feels fantastic. My brownies are crazy good. I bake muffins far better than my old gluten filled ones. The fennel and golden raisin bread I recently made was amazing, my sister is still raving about the flavor and aroma. She eats wheat but she loves my Christmas cookies, said so the other day; that they were the best this past holiday season.
So please, do not pity me. I don’t want or need it. Quite the opposite: you can envy my perfect brownies or my lovely lemon almond cake or my best ever chocolate cake with peanut butter icing. Or all the entrees and sides I now make safely with a variety of starches or flours that don’t include gluten. I am totally fine. I don’t have to take any medicines to make me well. I just need to keep all the gluten away from my body, not in my food, my medicine, my shampoo or my moisturizer. Not even a pinch of it- anything from 20 parts per million is contamination.
Please don’t be offended if I don’t eat food I am not sure is totally gluten free. I have lost friends that way; they were actually offended that I got sick at their house. If you bake, don’t make me a cake in your pan that baked wheat flour cakes, use a disposable aluminum pan. And read the freaking labels if you cook for someone with celiac. It is appalling how many foods have wheat contamination issues due to the equipment a lot of food is processed in/on or by. Don’t trust promises by caterers. I wrote a post on that once.
I am good these days. I really am. No pity…maybe you can have some dessert envy as I’m still a great baker! Gluten free is no death sentence. For those of us with celiac it is more a release from pain, undiagnosed suffering and a way to live healthier and happier. I blog so you can eat safely too, or cook safely for someone you love. Be happy, enjoy good food and live with joy. I know I do!