Gluten-free, Wheat-free living

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Gluten-free, Wheat-free living

We wooed each other with food. From the early days of our courting, we cooked for each other until that dance we did around the kitchen table became part of the people we are and the people we would become.

This blog is about the pure pleasures of preparing and sharing a meal: the planning for it, the making of it, the taking in of the smells, the turning out of a humble (or spectacular) spread, and the table talk that issues from each of us as we share.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Celiaccentuate the Positive This Season

by Gina Mohr-Callahan, A Fork in the Road

There’s a song worm working my brain: “You’ve got to accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.” Good advice, even from an inane song from the 1940s.

It’s easy to get low about the gluten-free life – especially during the holidays when everyone around you seems to be gorging on wheat-flour-laden sweets. It’s tough to decline those plattters of fancy fluted cookies and puff-pastry turbans, knowing they’re likely made with gluten-rich ingredients you can’t have.

After nearly 11 years gluten-free, I’ve spent a holiday season or two thinking “Woe is I.” I’ve murmured those desperate mantras: “The holidays will never be the same.” “Why me?” “This sucks.” And worse. But all those tragic mumblings did me no good. After they hit the ether, I still had celiac disease, still needed to pursue the gluten-free path, still couldn’t have those holiday treats everyone else was eating. So what’s a gluten-free gastronome to do?

A Dose of Positive Self-Talk
Hey baby, latch on to the affirmative and give Mr. (or Ms.) In-Between the boot. Learn to pursue the gluten-free life with gusto, and you’ll discover you can make nearly everything you once loved in your gluten-rich iteration, only you can make a healthier, gluten-free version, and no one will be the wiser. How?
Try reworking those negative brain worms to something more positive for example, replace:
  • “This sucks. Everyone gets to eat what they want but me.” WITH “I’m making great, healthful food choices.”
  • “I won’t be able to enjoy the office party this year.” WITH “I’ll bring a plate of some gluten-free treat I CAN eat.”
  • “People think I’m a freak, because I’m so fussy about what I eat.” WITH “Who cares what people think! I feel great on the gluten-free path!
  • “This is hard. I can’t do it.” WITH “Hey, I’m a creative person. If 3 million Americans can do this, I can, too!
  • “I just want to be like everyone else.” WITH “No you don’t! You want to be an original. Quit whining! As Guy Clark says: “Life is not a piece of cake.” (It’s a piece of gluten-free cake!) OK. OK. This is not that positive, but I just had to throw it in there.
Making Holiday “Lemonade”
In the realm of life challenges, going gluten-free ranks about a “3” on the 10-point difficulty scale: It’s not easy, but it’s not leukemia. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s completely achievable. It’s not ideal, but maybe it is. It’s ideal for you. And isn’t it wonderful that something as simple as living the gluten-free life can help you feel better again?

For me, the gluten-free life has been a gift. After four years of feeling horrible, after wasting away to 89 pounds, losing my hair, agonizing with chronic headaches and miserable joint pain, I found a simple way to be well again. If this is all I have to do to be well, I’ll gladly drink the gluten-free tea, one lump please.

Accentuate the Positive
And, the gluten-free challenge comes with benefits:
  • It’s less inflammatory. Many healthcare practitioners are prescribing the gluten-free life for their patients – even if they don’t have celiac disease or gluten intolerance – because it’s a healthier way of living.
  • It’s more diverse. If you hadn’t been diagnosed with a gluten issue, you’d still be eating one kind of grain: boring wheat. Now, you get to have coconut, sorghum, millet, quinoa, tapioca, chickpeas, and dozens of other flours that make life more interesting. Hey baby, the gluten-free are exotic. More distinctive. Sexier? Believe it!
  • It’s a more mindful way of living. Admit it. Before you went gluten-free, you probably ate most things without even considering for a moment what was in them. Now, you know more about what you put into your body than most people. And that’s great. Don’t you feel good about that? Even a little smug?
  • It’s what’s best for you. The rest of the world is still wandering, lost in a dark wood, not knowing what is best for them. Your body has spoken. It’s made it abundantly clear what you need and don’t need. I’d call that a major life satori!
Have Falalalala Faith
If you’re new to the gluten-free life and still skeptical about the satori part, have a little faith. Every holiday, every year, every spring, this path gets oh-so-much easier. This dark and tangled wood gets brighter. This gluten-free life gets lighter. Look ahead. As Townes Van Zandt said: “It don’t pay to think too much on things you leave behind.”

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