three months of salad

After three months of a gluten-free diet, I can safely say that I am tired of this brave new salad-riddled world and want to go home, my fluffy pastry home with the doughnut doorknob.

Initially, I was more than happy to give up gluten if it meant feeling good again. There is no question that even my bad days now are better than my best days were back then. I won’t go back to how it was before, no matter how bleak it seems right now.

And right now it seems very bleak.

I suppose this is merely a slump, an expected one since I jumped into a gluten-free life without real consideration to how my eating habits — ALL of my eating habits — would have to change. Today I am mourning the ability to be the effortless dining companion I once was. Some cuisines are easier for me than others because of the variety of options their menus provide. Other cuisines daunt and depress me. When once I would order anything (aside from squid) depending on my whim, now I have to scour and study each menu item, ask servers endless, nitpicking questions, and ruin my friends’ good time because I can’t eat most dishes that people like to share.

It’s not that I miss any particular food; I love so many different foods, plus there are viable gluten-free options for many things now. I miss my easy-going glutenated self. I miss being able to say “whatever, whenever” to food with friends. I miss being able to focus on the company rather than the components. When I have to mention my dietary restrictions to anyone, I feel high-maintenance and lame. Food used to be such a vast pleasure for me, but now I am constantly self-conscious about it. I do not like the dynamic of requesting special treatment, but the alternative is a plethora of horrible side-effects.

I know it has only been three months. It has been a long three months.

7 thoughts on “three months of salad

  1. It will get easier as time goes by. You’ll find restaurants that consistently provide you with gluten free meals and will know what to order each time you eat there. You should look for any local Celiac support groups. They typically share their dining experiences to spare others from going through their pain of being accidentally glutened and to share the joy of good, gluten free meals. The support groups often dine out together regularly. It’ll make you feel better to get out there with other people who have similar dietary restrictions as you do.

    Try not to feel like a burden on your friends. They love you (I’m sure!) and want you to be happy and healthy. If you want to make dining more effortless for you get into the habit of calling ahead to the restaurant and speaking to the manager or chef to get guidance on what is safe for you. You can also order the Triumph Dining cards which explain your dietary restrictions in English as well as in the native language of the cuisine. That helps a lot! I give that card to the hostess as soon as I arrive at a restaurant and explain that needs to go to the chef in order to keep them from harming me.

  2. I so understand. I’ve mostly learned how to deal with going out to restaurants. Me, the queen of sauces and fried and dressings and bread and dessert now order broiled meat and fish and simple vegetables or salads and sorbet. Harder still is being invited to eat at friends’ houses. Trying to explain… eh.

    So! Now I cook lots more than I have in years and tell friends that I have wierd food allergies so hey, come over, I’ll cook and you bring the wine.

    Big adjustment. But like you, I can’t go back to feeling bad all of the time.

  3. I’m laughing, only because I tried the raw diet craze once, and almost went mad, craving fried chicken. I don’t eat many sweets, but I still do eat them, because if I don’t, I end up consuming an entire bag of mini tootsie rolls in one sitting. Never ate much bread, but if I want a sandwich, by God, I’m going to have one.

    Man cannot live on salad alone, we must have croutons!

  4. You couldn’t ruin your friends’ good time if you tried. Of course it feels like it’s a burden on others, but I promise that it’s not. Your questions to servers are friendly, relevant, and necessary, and I’ve learned more than a little about how foods are cooked and what goes into them – and I dine with you every night. You’ve identified that you’re feeling much better now and that you’ll never go back to how it was before. You can bet the people who love you want the same, and they’re more than happy to assist in providing for your comfort rather than grumble and complain about the (questionable) lack of their own. You’ve figured out a way around it, and we want to help!

  5. Speaking from a self imposed stance of ‘special dietary needs’ I found the first few months to be the worst. I was painfully aware of all the food I couldn’t have which I happily used to eat and hadn’t fond the joy in my new diet yet.

    But it will get easier.

    It is hard to feel like you are making other peoples life harder, but you are ill there is nothing you can do to change this, real friends will happily accommodate your needs.

    My old flatmate had coeliac disease and we gradually worked out some great recipes. I look forward to cooking for you when you come to stay.

    You just have to give yourself time to adjust to this new way of eating.

    Take care and I hope you start to feel better very soon.

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