This post is for those of you who wonder about us celiacs deliberately consuming gluten at will just because we miss wheaty foods. I have no “big” answer but maybe this will help you understand how I roll. I’m gonna get kinda serious but I think that is necessary once in a while. Next post I will get back to a yummy gf food recipe!
I belong to several on line celiac groups. I see a lot of interesting comments and discussions on foods and eating styles. Some people are very critical of how others live their lives and others are incredibly supportive. Recently I read a somewhat whiny post by a lady who cheats on her gluten free status in what seems to be a regular pattern. “It is very hard to stick to a gluten free diet when your family and friends eat gluten right in front of” you. Well, I had to respond to that because, I am constantly exposed to gluten based foods in my jobs and I have been able to resist the temptation…so far. This is what I wrote to her.
Of course it is hard but I would rather live than die from cancer due to cheating or constantly suffering the pains from being glutened. The more you cheat I bet the more you rationalize it. If you set your mind to never ever cheat no matter how tempting it is it gets easier over time. It is a mind set…..I miss many many things that contain gluten. And it is very difficult at times. But I never intentionally eat gluten, I see it as a dam, I don’t want any cracks in my dam from cheating that will lead to my early demise….
That lady is correct, it is very hard to stick to eating gluten free every single day. But she is wrong to rationalize it and to cheat, deadly wrong.
I write today for all of you who think it is easy to live gluten free or that we who do must cheat a lot. I frankly do not see a lot of people on line who admit to voluntarily eating gluten on occasion. When someone does make that admission a number of others generally jump in to chastise the person, to explain how detrimental to their health it is and generally attempt to persuade them to return to the straight and narrow, no gluten ever, life style. No one says, hey, that’s okay. But usually someone says, “It happens, we all make mistakes.”
The thing besides my fear of cancer that keeps me on the straight and narrow is how ill I feel when I get accidentally glutened by a very small amount of something, generally cross contamination. I feel such burning pain and nausea as well as total exhaustion for hours and residual gut pain lasting for days that I am loath to bring this suffering (or worse as a big slice of pizza gotta be worse on my gut than that speck of cross contamination that made me so ill the other week) on me; all in the need to eat a slice of pizza or bagel. Sure I get tempted but I never seriously entertain taking that bite of pizza. The negatives are just too great to contemplate doing that voluntarily.
Yes, people who have celiac cheat. Some have less will power, some have no active symptoms and just knowing it is bad for your gut isn’t enough for them I guess and some are in situations that make it easy to make poor choices. We with this auto-immune disease have to plan ahead for any meal away from home. We can’t just trust to finding something decent to eat. That may well lead to a snack not a real meal. I would rather bring a picnic than trust to what I will discover as I travel. I would rather suffer the torment of watching you eat pizza than getting ill from it for the next few days.
I hope that my commentary has enlightened this issue for you folks who don’t have celiac. It isn’t easy to be constantly strong but it is vital to staying healthy and living a longer life. It is not a joke or a yes one day and no the next. It is a lifesaving lifestyle that we cannot take on or off like a t-shirt. Please take it seriously when a celiac is coming on a visit and asks you to serve only gluten free foods or brings their own meal so they can eat safely.
You or someone you know may choose to eat gluten free to lose weight. That’s okay, but please recognize that it is not a “dieting” choice for me. I chose to do it to stay healthy and feel good, eating gluten would make me terribly ill and if done more than rarely could quite possibly lead to cancer and hasten my demise.
And for goodness sake, don’t wave your bagel in my face as a tease or beg me to taste a yummy cookie. You are making it just a little bit more stressful as to my daily efforts to eat safely. I will not eat that cookie/bagel but it would be far nicer not to tempt directly.
Be kind to the celiac you know, it sure would make their day if you serve something they can safely enjoy and if you are polite and understanding about their need to eat gluten free every single meal.
If you have celiac you might want to share this post with anyone who just doesn’t get it, like that person who urges you to have a slice of warm bread or a fresh roll, just this once! You know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you? Eat safe and live well.