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By now you should know that I have been on this gluten free ride for quite some time. In the current gluten free craze environment, one would think that all of the awareness would make my life so much easier. But alas, that is not always the case. Why, you ask? Read on, my friends. Read on!
Gluten Free Beginnings
Since I was diagnosed with Celiac in 1986, before basically anybody knew what it was, my life has revolved around food. What I can eat, what I can’t eat and how to read labels. Deciphering those little buggers can be a challenge, but once you’ve been doing it for decades, it’s a piece of cake.
However, since I was diagnosed so long ago and lived in the gluten free space for most of my life, I am pretty used to figuring things out on my own. I learned how to read labels as a child. I used to call up the manufacturers (because this was before the internet was a thing) to find out what their “maltodextrin” was made from. It was hard to get anybody who knew what I was talking about, let alone could give me a definitive answer.
Therefore, at this point in time, I was pretty much on my own. I had figured this out without all of the current knowledge and technology. And I did so pretty darn efficiently! I learned which manufacturers were more transparent and which ones put more additives in their food that was suspect. I learned how to talk to restaurants when I needed a meal. And no, saying I needed a gluten free meal wouldn’t have meant squat to anybody.
Gluten Free Explanation
I had to explain what Celiac was in great length, most of the time, and even then, I still got blank stares. So I learned that I had to tell anybody who might be serving me food that I couldn’t have anything that had the following:
Or any derivative of the aforementioned group. Now, I know that the current science says that millet is fine and is gluten free, but back in the day, that was not the case. This was the list I had memorized from the age of 6. That being said, I still had to explain what might be made from those foods frequently, but the paired down list helped get the point across.
I very rarely got gluten poisoned and I not only survived, but thrived. Thank you, very much!
Now, however, gluten free is a more widespread thing, which should make my life easier. But most of the time, it really doesn’t.
Gluten Free Craze
Once more people started getting diagnosed with Celiac, and the internet was more a part of our daily lives, I noticed a change in the environment. It was easier for me to find gluten free food because I didn’t have to explain it at great length nearly as often. That was a bonus!
I also didn’t have to make all of my own food or order it in from Canada, in bulk. Because that was the only way that I had been able to find good gluten free products, at the time. They were sold in bulk and shipped in frozen. I had to order them by the case and keep them frozen, which meant that my entire freezer went to keeping gluten free goods viable.
The food wasn’t nearly as good then as it is now either. So we have had some major jumps in the technology and availability. Both all good news for me. But…and here’s the but!
Gluten Free NUTS!
With all of this awareness, comes the crazies. Yep, I said it. As with any craze (Atkins,anyone?) you get the nuts who don’t actually have to follow a diet for SURVIVAL, but do so because they think they are going to get skinny. I’m sorry, but what???
These are the people who make it so freaking difficult for those of us that actually have to eat gluten free to survive. Why, is that exactly? Simple. They are the ones that go out to restaurants and say they are gluten free and make a huge stink about it, all the while devouring an entire basket of NON GLUTEN-FREE bread!
And don’t tell me that doesn’t happen, because I know first hand that it does. As a person who has worked in F&B (Food and Beverage) for over 20 years, I have seen this happen time and time again. Not only that, but everyone I have ever worked with in this space knows that I have Celiac. This means that whenever they run across the nuts making it difficult for everybody else, I am the one they tell.
It is because of these people that people who actually have to eat gluten free aren’t always taken seriously and subsequently get gluten poisoned. So thank you, crazy nuts of the world. From all of us with Celiac, gluten allergies and intolerances, we thank you for making our lives more difficult because you think it is going to make you skinny.
How about this instead:
Diversify your diet, drink more water and exercise more.
Boom! Done and done and nobody gets the ill side effects of your misunderstanding of how the human body works.
Have you ever run across a situation like this? If so, what were your thoughts or how did you address it?