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NUTRITION

GLUTEN-FREE; GOOD GRIEF!

Gluten-free gets a conversation going in a crowd of strangers like no other current topic.  Everybody wants to know more and it seems we all would like to have greater confidence in how we are tolerating our foods, or whether this is the source of our complaints.  If you would like a great synopsis of this I still recommend reading “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis, MD.  He has done a thorough job of collating a lot of useful information and is using facts and research to support the information he presents.

On a more practical level, I want to present the 5 Stages of Grief, the famous model of the emotional stages of grief and loss introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  I freely admit to taking liberties with this model to create a bit of humour in a dry subject.  This story is based on fact, but it would be a stretch to view every detail as factual.

STAGE 1: DENIAL

Date: Some fuzzy time period of several years where I seem to be having digestive issues and a lack of energy after fermented barley juice and surplus poultry limbs in hot sauce.  I wake feeling very bloated and fatigue fearing it is that time of the month, but then I remember, I AM A MALE.  Maybe I really do too much women’s medicine at the clinic.  Oh well.  In spite of the obvious correlation to the food I had the night before, I will ascribe this feeling to a bad night’s sleep while fully ignoring this only happening after some kind of grain-rich meal.  Insomnia after pasta?  Pisshaw.  And so it continues for a few years and I manage to get by.

STAGE 2: ANGER

Anger isn’t my strong suit.  I do it very poorly.  I’m the guy who when I have a tantrum, people are entertained and laughing rather than running scared; think of the guy trying to kick the stairs he just fell on and slipping on my butt again.  A crowd gathers thinking I am a busker.  So as it sinks in that I am going to have to watch my foods I have shame that I am going to have to be “that” guy who has to appraise each menu item and make a special request for all meals.  I will be identified as unusual by the entertaining chef at the teppanyaki restaurant by having a few chunks of the foods heated quickly and shoved on my plate unceremoniously before the rest.  Then he will begin the meal and the cooking for the group while I nibble alone, an outcast within the group duly shamed for asking for gluten-free. Okay, maybe there is some internal anger that I could vent somewhere.

STAGE 3: BARGAINING

Bargaining with yourself is always a win/lose negotiation; failing to demand good behavior of yourself means you will continue to experience the results of your less-than-perfect behaviours.  But really, that just means you are normal.  So I will convince myself that only once in a while will be fine, that I can create certain circumstances that will make this alright.  I will take enzymes, I will have only organic, only on the crescent moon…  And so the delusion continues.  I will find a way to do many other things in my diet and lose weight and be kind to small creatures and then magically I will be able to tolerate these foods.   Maybe, just maybe?

STAGE 4: DEPRESSION

Well, that didn’t work.  I guess I’ll just have to live with my lot in life.  I’ll just be the one who spends every restaurant meal eating a plain grilled chicken breast with steamed broccoli and no sauce or spice.  I have my own dark cloud following me around.  At least I have the joy of sharing my gluten-free status with everyone who will listen.  Maybe I will treat myself to a visit to Disneyworld.  And then in the cattle-line food service I make the fatal mistake; I tell the cashier that I would like the asian salad without noodles because I prefer it without wheat.  And the world stops spinning.  Our line is put on hold.  Whispered discussions occur among the staff, and glances are made in my direction.  Eventually a finger is pointed at me and a manger comes from a cave in the back to interview me about my food issues.  A sterile employee must be found to cook my gruel in a separate space and allow the several dozen patrons behind me to get served and enjoy their meals while I wait.

STAGE 5: ACCEPTANCE

So be it.  I will muster the fortitude to learn the ways of the gluten-free, to study the endless list of foods that contain gluten; I will find where it is hidden in the most subtle of places.  I will seek out the subversive food processors who fail to list it as an obvious ingredient on their nutrition panel.  I will join in public and secretive groups on the internet to share our unique knowledge.  I will overcome.

So basically, I will cook my own food.  And develop a better repertoire of recipes than I ever had before.  My wife will find amazing recipes and we will have an enviable variety of great food.  I will bring lunches that I can show off and gloat to others about how it is delicious and nutritious.  And I will feel better, truly more energetic, more alert, and much less bloated.

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