I recently read an article which claimed that nearly 25% of the US population is “going gluten free,” and that most of them are doing it by choice. Having celiac disease myself, this made me a bit angry. Why on Earth would people go gluten free by choice? No, the food isn’t bad, and there are some really great stuff out there (especially if you have access to a Whole Foods, which I don’t and am bitter about,) but if I had a choice, I can tell you for sure that there wouldn’t be a snowball’s chance in hell of my being on a gluten free diet. Why? Because I freaking love pastry. And bread that doesn’t feel like dirty unless you toast it. And baguettes. And hamburgers with the bun. And eating whatever I feel like at a restaurant. When I eat out, I always eat the same things: (chicken,steak,duck,pork) + (rice, potatoes) + (vegetables, no vegetables) and maybe (ice cream, crème brûlé) for desert. Those are my options. I’m not usually bitter about it, but something about this makes me mad. The idea that my struggle is turning into somebody else’s fad sort of pisses me off. Logically I know that more people eating gluten free foods will create more demand for better, more numerous gluten free foods, but there’s still part of me that finds this annoying.
What annoys me is this attitude: “‘I feel better when I don’t do it. If I go out to a restaurant with friends and I have a beer and a plate of pasta I’m going to feel it the next day. No one wants a gluten hangover,’ said Silvana Nardone, former editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine.” Gluten hangover?! Try Osteoporosis in your 30’s. How’s that for a “gluten hangover?” How about intestinal cramps, diarrhea, and lack of nutrient absorption that can cause psychosis* and a ton of other nasty side-effects? Is that the kind of “gluten hangover” your talking about? Didn’t think so. Have you ever considered that you might have a “food hangover” the next day because you’re eating shitty pizza and Budwiser? No, you’re right, that couldn’t have anything to do with it; must be the gluten.
The thought that bothers me the most, is that one day I’m going to walk into a restaurant, order a burger without the bun, and the waiter is going to say to me, “Oh, you’re trying that new gluten free diet?!” I don’t know how exactly I’ll respond, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be along the lines of, “No, I’m trying to prevent my immune system from destroying my intestines, and I’ve been doing it since I was 11. Want to like to trade immune systems? What’s you blood type?”
Normally I try not to rant like this in public, and I apologize if I’m just being a troll, but this is actually very annoying. I don’t care that other people want to eat gluten free foods, but the fact that a diet that I have fought to cope with, and that can be very frustrating, is becoming the latest “big thing” really annoys me. It belittles the struggle that I, and everyone else who has Celiac Disease, goes through every meal of every day.
*To be fair, I don’t get the immediate symptoms like the diarrhea and cramps, I just get the fun stuff like psychosis and osteoporosis if I eat the stuff long term. While this sounds like a better deal, it also means that I have no immediate indicator of whether or not I have eaten gluten, and therefore don’t necessarily know when I’ve eaten it. And I do know people who have had serious complications with Celiac, one of whom had frequent blackouts before she went gluten free.