Well, I hope you’ve had a good day. Mine has been pretty long and onerous.
It’s because I have now spent the past several hours absolutely, positively gluten-free. Yes, it’s been a struggle, but I haven’t caved in yet. I am persevering.
“Are you nuts?” my friend Brenda said when I ran into her at Whole Foods. “Are you going to become one of those picky people?”
I nodded tolerantly. I, too, would have made one of those ignorant remarks just yesterday, when I had been a whole-bore gluten gulper and much less enlightened than I am today.
“I’m just trying it,” I said.
“Why?” Brenda wanted to know. She’s one of those nosy journalists who asks rapid-fire questions like a prosecuting attorney. “You know it’s only a fad,” she added accusingly.
Oh, brother. You try to improve yourself just a little bit, try to rise above your old, pedestrian, glutened self — and what happens? You get attacked left and right. I might as well get used to it, I supposed. Everybody is always so threatened when you’re trying to make a healthy change in your life.
So, I patiently explained how I was simply trying out the diet since it had worked so well for a couple of my friends, who now said they had fewer aches and pains and much more energy.
“I want more energy,” I said. “Also, I’ve got a lot of aches and pains. So I’m trying an anti-inflammatory diet.
“I may be gluten sensitive. You never know.”
“Well, who doesn’t have aches and pains at our age?” Brenda said. (Our age? I know for a fact Brenda is at least two years older than I am. Maybe two-and-a-half years, depending on when her birthday falls.)
Then she hinted that my gluten-free friends were probably the excitable, hyperbolic type who were exaggerating their success. Which was kind of beside the point since — when you get down to it — all my friends are the excitable, hyperbolic type and we spend 1000% of our lives exaggerating everything.
Anyway, Brenda and I decided we would get together for a drink soon. I was already worried about whether the bar would have gluten-free hors d’oeuvres. Maybe I should start packing my own snacks, I was thinking.
I got home and emailed my friend Carol to announce I’d spent several hours gluten-free and was doing just great. Carol, who wanted to emphasize that she had been gluten-free long before it was chic, said I needed to watch the ingredients of food when I ate out or at home. Often, she said ominously, gluten substances are used to thicken prepared foods.
I found this a little upsetting, since I’m the kind of person who’s far too lazy and slipshod to ask about ingredients; I am the kind of person who likes to gobble food indiscriminately, as long as it doesn’t include the long list of vegetables I don’t like or the innards of anything. Was I going to have to go OCD to be gluten-free?
I told my husband about it at dinner. He had initially been supportive of my new diet, since he thought it would mean he and I would never have to eat quinoa again. Now, out of total spousal honesty, I had to inform him that quinoa was allowed. “Are you sure?” he kept asking doubtfully. “It looks like a grain to me. I don’t think we should risk it.”
One day of gluten-free and this was the kind of support I was getting. I began to doubt my commitment to my new lifestyle. Could I really give up my favorite foods like pasta and bread? Carbohydrates were my life, after all. And dumplings! How would I live without dumplings?
Then Carol emailed again and said I’d probably be feeling better within days, not weeks. So, I did what I usually do during times of great self-doubt: I went to bed.
I”d already gone gluten-free for an entire day, I figured. Now, all I had left was the rest of my life.
(Copyright 2013 by Ruth Pennebaker)
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