Being a girl who grew up revering carbohydrates, the idea of becoming gluten-
free frequently seemed to feel like a punishment. I say frequently, noting that I
have a mother who has identified as gluten intolerant years before I have and has
frequently diagnosed me with it every time I had a hinting of a stomach ache: “I
wonder if you’re gluten intolerant too!” “Mother, stop it: you just want me to have it
just because you have it,” gluten free hung over me like a veil – a death veil. A death
veil that meant changes and sacrifice and alternate lifestyles – food items I had
grown to look upon with devout love, such as pizza and bagels, were threatened by
the idea of a gluten lifestyle. The gluten lifestyle seemed limiting, oppressive, and
slightly too hip with the trendy organic, local, Nalgene bottle, reusable bag trend.
While I may have become prone to using reusable bags more, recycling materials
more diligently, and ensuring that my apples were always organic, I laughed in the
face of gluten-free: Haha! I said, Not today! And thus, I remained happily wed to
gluten for just a little bit while longer.
I began getting really sick this past year, picking up symptoms and medications and
doctor concerns… I began mystifying, gaining specialists, and living in the realm of
medical question marks wherein both receptionists at my local doctor’s practice
knew me by name, by face, by sheer existence, wordlessly waving me to the waiting
area as they mouthed towards me that they had checked me in already. It’s not
exactly the type of street cred you want – but, you take what you can get these days,
I suppose. But at the same time, the sicker I became, the more alarmingly apparent it
became that you cannot take what you can get these days.
What came in my wave of sickness involved chronic fatigue, chronic pain, IBS
(irritable bowel syndrome), otherwise random stomach pains, some random chest
pains, GERD, etc. I would say I’ve lost count of how many medications I’ve been on,
but I’ve learned to keep a list of all the medications I’ve been on so doctors can stop
going WELL, HAVE YOU TRIED THIS?! Who is the boss? I am the boss.
Eventually, one day a doctor recommended that it was possible I may have a
gluten intolerance. Being desperate to stop the sudden, yet annoyingly prolonged
stomach pains, I finally decided to try being gluten-free, getting the corresponding
bloodwork done in order to test for Celiac’s disease.
I don’t have Celiac’s disease, but I’ve decided to remain gluten-free for the sake
of my health and the holiness of my body (I say that only half-jesting): I noticed a
difference in the way my body digested food and ergo the way my body interpreted
energy within the first few days of switching to gluten-free foods. Although it has its
difficult moments, being gluten-free can be deceptively easier than one would think.
Certain products that have eased along the process include:
Against the Grain bagels – I was warned by my mother that gluten-free bagels were
“disappointing, but still a bagel” (heartbreaking words to a native New Yorker) – but
these bagels were far from her ominous cry. Against the Grain is probably the closest
gluten-free bagel I’ve gotten that tastes like one of the gluten bagels I’ve come to
know and love, and I could not be more pleased with the taste and quality of the
Pamela’s and Jovial manage to assuage my sweet tooth by their contributions of
their chocolate-chip cookies (which you would seriously think was just your average
gluten chocolate chip cookie, although I would argue it’s tasted a lot better than
some of the average gluten-free cookies I’ve had) and vanilla crème-filled organic
chocolate cookies, bite size cookies that are already placed in small to-go packs I can
bring with me to work.
What’s left? Pasta and pizza, of course: the two other loves of my Italian hometown.
Switching to gluten-free pasta and pizza seemed like a large sacrifice, but was
quickly made do-able with Glutino Duo Cheese Pizza (frozen food, microwavable) or
Schar’s line of gluten-free pizza crusts and gluten-free spaghetti. If you even go to
google Schar’s line of gluten-free spaghetti, you’ll discover that most people remark
that it’s closest to the “real thing.”
While making the transition to gluten-free living is difficult, especially when going
out to eat, there are enough products like these out there that make living gluten
free at home a little bit easier. Although some of these products unfortunately aren’t
carried all over the U.S. and beyond, it’s worth a quick search online to check and to
do some investigative work on your own. Having had a few wonderful gluten-free
product experiences, I’m now a confident gluten-free individual who recommends
the gluten-free lifestyle to most people even just curious about making the switch.
* All Food Products are Gluten Free & Vegan
Product Photography (C) Tara Mackey
& belong to Sweet Vegan Delight!
Love & Light