My Rocky Road to Gluten Free Life
My gluten free adventures began long before it was trendy to eat protein style burgers, and quinoa pasta: back when GF cookies tasted like half-sweetened cardboard and no menus featured gluten free guidance.
Ten years ago, I got sick. No one had any concrete answers. I gained forty pounds in a matter of weeks. My joints were inflamed, my whole body was sore. I had such swollen ankles, I couldn’t wear socks. It was freshman year of college, and I ate like a stressed out eighteen year old with an affinity for dining hall waffles. I began to cut out foods with the hope allergies held the answers to my misery. The first to go were dairy and sugar, while my doctor continued to run tests. I felt some decrease in inflammation and increase in energy until the test resulted came back; I had Lyme Disease.
Lyme is tricky bacteria that invades every system of the body, an is easily aggravated by food, causing allergies and intolerances to the most delicious food groups. I began elaborate and extensive treatment immediately, and my symptom improved as soon as I said good-bye to gluten. It was hard. The learning curve for gluten free baking was much higher back before the internet wall full of gorgeous blogs and Pinterest boards. It was also expensive. There were no Trader Joe’s rice pastas, coconut flours, or potato flour pretzels. So, for the part I went without the treats I once loved and swapped flour tortillas for corn. Because I wasn’t celiac and most people weren’t going gluten free by choice, it was increasingly difficult to explain my eating habits to friends. College kids can be just as nosey and judgement as high schoolers, causing my relationship with food to twist and turn, as I developed a serious mentality around lack. No longer considering the joy and satisfaction of what I could eat, or did eat to feel well, I was focused on all the tasty things all my friends were eating. I never felt satisfied. Food lack lead to depression, and serious issues around what I could or would choose to indulge. So, I did what any college student would do—tried to fit it.
I got really into drinking beer, which was a terrible idea. With each Blue Moon swig my mouth would itch and my lips would swell. I was determined; allergic reaction would not deter me. The more beer I drank, the more my knuckles would swell, making school work nearly impossible. I was drowning my immune system in allergies; it didn’t stand a chance against the infection in my body. As my weight started to creep up again and my inflammation skyrocketed I realized it was time: I wasn’t meant to eat gluten and I needed to accept that.
Acceptance was the key shift to my acceptance of joy of gluten free living. As soon as I realized my body and I could find peace, my lack mentality disappeared. The popularity of gluten free living began to rise, and I felt comfortable labeling myself as gluten intolerant. I moved to the Bay Area, the mecca of farm to table, slow food, and specialty eats which opened my eyes to a whole new culinary world. There were GF pizzas that didn’t taste like cardboard, and vegan cheesecakes with nut crusts. I began to appreciate vegetables as main dishes rather than side dishes as my taste buds and mindset changed. My body and mind were finally at peace as my disease started to heal. Food and I could be friends, not foes. I fell in love with a diner serving almond based waffles, hearty almond breads, and friend chicken. Their motto was “gluten free and hella good.” Because life really can be gluten free and hella good.
Bio: Amy is a writer, cosmetologist, and theatre maker in the SF Bay Area. She inspires joy through wellness, adventure, and intentional living at http://blondewanderlust.com. She loves crafting low glycemic, ayurvedic inspired GF treats, hiking, creating mindful communities online and in real life.
Join her Facebook community for a space to cultivate and inspire intentional wellness: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1424400844312307/