I’ve officially been gluten-free for a little over 6 months. My C-Day diagnosis came on May 30th, and I really thought for quite a while that life as I knew it was over.
No more tasty heaping bowls of pasta. No more delicious cakes. No more fresh bread at restaurants (the ONLY time I ever ate bread). No more beer. No more baking.
That last one almost broke my heart.
Thus began a life of reading every label for every food that ever passed my lips. Gone were the days of carefree eating. Eating out lost it’s luster when the concern of gluten-free options and cross-contamination became a looming fear. I had entered a new realm of caution and concern and special treatment, all of which made me terribly uncomfortable. At any moment, any restaurant or any food item could cause me to be ill, uncomfortable, and unhappy. For longer than I’d like to admit, I lived a pretty fearful eating existence.
I won’t lie. I wallowed in self-pity for quite some time. I felt so bad for myself that I could no longer enjoy so many of the things I loved. In many ways, I behaved like a spoiled child, pouting at restaurants and while wandering the grocery store aisles. I took gluten-free to the extreme and only ate the most boring and basic foods of which I was 100% certain of their gluten content. A few times along the way I was sneak-attack glutened and felt miserable for a few days without knowing what had laid me up again. I was discouraged and disillusioned and frustrated and sad.
But, at some point in the past few months, I got over it. Not over celiac — that’ll never happen — but my pity party. One day it just ended, and I don’t remember when it was. Somewhere along the way I started reading gluten-free blogs and following gluten-free tweeps. I received gluten-free cookbooks for wedding gifts and was the recipient of a bounty of gluten-free advice. I became more adventurous, trying different gluten-free pastas and flours. I found restaurants that serve wonderful gluten-free menus and bakeries that whip up delicious gluten-free treats (including Sugarland who made my wedding cupcakes!). I began to bake again. Modifying recipes wasn’t nearly as terrifying and daunting as I thought it would be, even with my numerous failed attempts. I even managed to produce a gluten-free Thanksgiving (with the help of my gluten-free sister-in-law), featuring formerly glutenous favorites from my childhood.
Now, gluten-free is something I rarely think about. Sure, when I go to a new restaurant or try out a new food item from the grocery store, I’m cautious about the ingredients. I still ask a lot of questions and read labels. But, in my every day-to-day life, it’s no longer in the forefront of my mind like it used to be. It’s a habit; it’s my lifestyle. Gluten-free is something that I’ve grown comfortable with. It’s my way of life, not the end of my life.