Food is such a weird subject sometimes. It’s hard to keep what you’re eating straight most of the time, between all the pseudo news science and fad diets, organic versus local versus whatever you can afford, food allergies and new labels and what the hell is a Xanthan anyway, and why is it gummy?
Labels on food have been kind of eyeroll-inducing for awhile, but it seems to be getting worse lately. I’ve seen trans-fat free labels on blueberries and fat free stickers on bananas, gluten free vegetables – and that’s just the produce department. Packaged foods are now telling me how many grams of whole grain are in them, even going so far as to sell sweetened, packaged, enriched bleached flour children’s cereal as “part of a healthy breakfast” because they have “whole grains”.
So perhaps it’s not so strange that I’d eyeroll at all those labels and ignore them, cracking it all up to food fads and secretly making sarcastic remarks in my head.
(This is where I’d do a cool segue if I could think of one, and it would be sophisticated and thoughtful and you’d all love me for my transitional abilities. But I can’t think of one. So.
Segues are for suckers.)
Approximately one week ago, I finally got something resembling a diagnosis for my chronic pain, fatigue, and other issues. One of those issues is a tummy issue, and I’ll avoid TMI’ing you overmuch, but let’s just say that my system worked overtime, all the time, and I’d be running to the bathroom 4-6 times a day on a normal day. Which is pretty disrupting, all things considered, especially when you can’t move very fast because your joints hurt.
Doctor put me on new medication, told me I have to swim several times a week, gave me a bunch of activity restrictions… and told me to go gluten free for 3 months.
Three months, no gluten AT ALL. Not “a little bit every now and then”. Not “if you feel better you can cheat a little”.
I woke up last Thursday morning and went through my pantry, trying to figure out what I could eat. I literally had NO IDEA where to start. Even as someone who eats a lot of whole foods, I couldn’t eat any of my breakfast staples – no oatmeal, no granola bars, no cereal, no multi-grain muffins.
I ended up eating a banana and an egg.
Friday, I went grocery shopping, and I found myself feeling kind of like an asshole about rolling my eyes at the gluten free labels.
Maybe not on the strawberries (no duh?), but on packaged goods? All of a sudden I was floundering like an idiot, thrown head first into this exclusion diet where nearly every packaged item we eat contains gluten (anything with soy sauce, anything with MSG, anything with maltodextrin or malt sweeteners, anything that uses a food starch anti-caking agent for those anonymous “spices”).
Those “Gluten Free!” labels became a little lifeline, a little sanity break that meant I didn’t have to grill my brain to remember which of the various ingredients might have gluten, or be processed in such a way as to be easily contaminated with gluten (like white vinegar).
So far I’m not sure what to think of eating gluten free. It’s a huge mental process, and I seem to vacillate between “I can do this”, “I will never be able to eat anything again”, and “Why am I bothering?”
I definitely don’t roll my eyes at the Gluten Free labels anymore.
Though I do still make snide remarks in my head about trans-fat free blueberries…