I am bitter in this post, but I won’t apologize for it. I’m done apologizing for it.
Gluten-free is not a choice for me. It is a medical necessity. I get very sick when I eat gluten. Nowadays I am sometimes sick even when I don’t, which means I need to eliminate something else from my diet, although I am not sure what yet.
Going gluten-free has been an incredibly isolating experience for me. I used to love going out to dinner, and now I have to consider menus deeply before a nice meal out is even a possibility. I used to love to bake, but all of my recipes were based on wheat flour, and the gluten-free baking I have done leaves me really depressed because the texture and density are all wrong.
I hate imposing on the people around me, but I can’t just “cheat” anymore. I admit to some cheating at the beginning, and there is no excuse for it. I was angry and sad and wanted to eat whatever I wanted to eat. One of these times was in 2008 when I was in Scotland, and I had a bagel. It was magnificent and it didn’t make me sick. I don’t have an explanation for that. In a way, that fluke was worse, because it made all of this seem very arbitrary.
But it is not arbitrary. When I am lazy and don’t double-check when ordering food, I get sick. Now that I am actively avoiding gluten, when I ingest it I get extremely sick. It is awful. Not only do I have extreme gastrointestinal symptoms, but I am lost in this brain-fog. Work is barely possible from the fog; attempting to do homework is just comical. I get headaches that don’t go away for days. I have trouble sleeping. I get an incredibly itchy rash on my arms and legs — think chicken pox, that level of itchiness, the kind that requires active thought to avoid scratching.
The worst part is not getting sick but controlling every aspect of my food intake so that I never fully enjoy eating anymore. I am always conscious that even when gluten is not supposed to be in something I am eating, it could be, unless I prepare it myself from whole ingredients. I probably should do more of this. I know there are many wonderful blogs and cookbooks about gluten-free cooking. Sometimes I don’t want to think about cooking every meal for myself. Sometimes I just want take-out like a normal fucking person.
These days I wish I didn’t have to eat anything. Eating used to be one of my favorite things to do, and now I hate it. I used to love to share meals with people, to discuss every little aspect of flavor and preparation. Now I feel guilt for only being able to accompany people to certain restaurants, and resentment for only being able to order certain things.
This isn’t a poor-me post. This is full disclosure. This is an explanation of why my feelings get hurt when it seems like this all is some fad diet of mine, or even a diet that I chose because I wanted to be healthier. I didn’t choose this. It chose me, and I hate it. I hate it every day and I will never get used to it. I don’t want a pat on the back and I don’t want to hear about how gluten-free is better for me anyway. It is a prison sentence for a crime I didn’t commit. I don’t want to decorate my cell with handmade doilies. I just want out.