Monday, June 7, 2010

A Lament for Gluten

A lament for all the food I will never have, a sigh for all the recipes that will remain locked in between the tattered pages of my beloved cookbooks. It is in these moments of sorrow that I second-guess my decision to divorce gluten. Chewy dinner rolls that tear under the weight of butter will no longer patiently sit at my table, their yeasty scent enticing my diners. It is into this self doubting hell that I descend and it is precipitated by only one thing or perhaps many: I remember that my dream to live in France and attend cooking school is probably a bad idea. My kids are away for the night, my hubby is at work and I am left to my own devices to cook for myself (I am unabashedly lazy about cooking for myself). I start flipping through my stack of cookbooks and realize that I can't just walk into my kitchen and whip up any given recipe, I'll have to do some math, use a million flours and hope for the best. Why?

Why does it matter if I don't eat gluten? In a very small voice I will sometimes ask Mr., "Do you think it matters, I mean, really? What if we went out for brunch tomorrow and I had toast. Real toast with crevices for pools of butter, so sweet and milky and just the perfect size for a fairy to swim in, or enough to make me sigh with pleasure ...." and Mr. doesn't say anything. He just smiles because my eyes are going to fill with tears and he knows I won't do it.

I sometimes feel like my gluten intolerance has gotten out of hand, as if it is no longer in my control. A few months ago I went off my medication for bipolar disorder. I was tired of feeling sick all the time, the horrid headaches, the hand tremors and the brain fuzz. I am a writer and I couldn't always spell or tie together complex ideas. That is not exactly helpful to a Literature and Women's Studies student. Instead, I started doing research into alternative treatments for my disorder and one of them is to forgo gluten because gluten has been linked with mood swings. Let me just say, I do not, in any way, ever, at all recommend going off of psychiatric medication. It will lead to The Incident.

Whenever I have my big doubting moments about living gluten free, the times where I lay on the floor and sigh dramatically Mr. will gently remind me that the digestive problems I have dealt with my entire life are finally gone. The debilitating leg pain and headaches have faded away. If all of this isn't enough, Mr. will take me down to Pete's and buy a bundle of cheese, gluten free crackers and a lovely bottle of wine which we will eat in the sun on our balcony. That makes gluten-free life a little easier, doesn't it?


  1. Oh how I feel your sorrow! The most drastic change for me since going gluten free, besides my tummy stopping its gurgling, has been the change in my mood. Who knew there could be such a severe correlation between food and mood. If I have an accidental ingestion of gluten, I can go from sweet to monster in about 30 minutes, and then I spend 3-5 days trying to hide from the beasts in my head that try to convince me how horrible I am and how terrible others are. It is quite a trip and quite the motivation to stay gluten free!

  2. Michelle: Oh my, I had no idea gluten could do all these awful things to people. I am back on my meds but I still won't eat gluten because giving it up cleared a lot of physical ailments and I just can't be drained and tired like I was ... it's hard, isn't it? People don't seem to understand that it's not just your physical health that is affected by gluten but also your emotional health. I'm sure you know what I mean when I say you can just feel all the negativity swirling in your head and then it pounces. It's like a justifiable anger and then your mind also tells you that you're horrible for feeling that way. It's total crap. Good for you for staying gluten free!

  3. I can't imagine how you must feel, but to find out after all this time, something that is life is a gift, embrace it. Once you have spent some time learning to adapt, you will just walk into the kitchen, mix up all your new flours, make masterpiece desserts and breads, warm delicious breads oozing with butter and wonder what you were ever worried about!
    Best wishes for a healthy and happy life!

    I'm sure you have found them on your own but I have a few really good links on my page for gluten free life!

  4. This makes me wonder whether or not I am at least a tad bit gluten intolerant. I can't imagine how discouraging it can be to be denied bread and to have to give up some of those foods you love. I hope it gets easier for you.

  5. My heart goes out to you! My dad is gluten intolerant and also can't eat fish, wheat, mushrooms and so many other things. I know how hard it is and how it can really affect you. I hope things look up. Smile and things will be better... wine and cheese helps too! :)

  6. I didn't know gluten was so unhealthy. Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Dennis: Thank you for being so kind. You know what, I did just that, I went into the kitchen a couple of days later and baked an incredible batch of red velvet cupcakes. Maybe it took me a little longer but they were fantastic.

    Barrister: It is getting easier. It's been great for months, I take my meds and I bake/prepare all of our food (or my hubby does) and life is good. I'm still fairly new to gluten free life and eating out is always an event. I think that's what gets to me, sometimes I just want to go out for dinner without worrying.

    Housewife: Thank you so much! Your poor father, I can eat anything except gluten and that's hard enough. It's funny, for a long time I thought I was dairy intolerant but I was still having issues. Wine pretty much helps everything!

    Stephanie: It's a little scary. My mom read a study that found even non-gluten-intolerant folk (whew! a mouthful!) can experience issues with gluten. Who knew, eh? Thank you!