What Happens When a Completely Undisciplined Person Goes on a Diet? Nothing Good

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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22 comments… add one
  • Costco sells a great organic rice and quinoa mixture. It’s in plastic though, so you have to not heat it in the microwave in the envelope. This mixture made quinoa okay for my hubby. As for going gluten-free, I applaud you. Back in the 1970s, I think, they (Big Ag nasties) added gliadin to wheat. Like they manipulated regular old wheat – genetically modified it – to contain this substance for some commercial reason that slips my mind. Gliadin is why everyone is reacting badly to wheat these days. I can still eat wheat but often consider joining the gluten-free bandwagon. Will be interested in your future post describing the results of your new diet.

  • Keep it up! You never know, it could change your life. I’m not gluten free at all, but I do find that gluten free baked goods and restaurant dishes are often tastier than the alternative. I think it’s because they have to try harder. Could be my imagination.

  • LOL, I just finished writing an article today on quinoa. Yes, it is the MAIN grain for people on gluten free diets. 🙂

  • Ruth,
    So glad that you’re trying something new! That’s how we stay young. When we stop doing new things, we’re dead.
    Love, Cyndy

  • Allan Roth Link

    Tell Jamie that I have to go along with him on the quinoa thing. It looks way too much like a grain and taste too much like something from the tree family so I would certainly exclude it from any diet for either health or just good taste.

  • I’m gluten free and it isn’t as hard as it sounds. There are tons of GF pasta, bread, bagels, donuts, coffee cakes, rolls, cereal, you name it. Eating out is harder b/c you have to make sure they understand and prepare your food without it. At home I can make anything I want (except Asian dumplings – I haven’t found a GF wrapper and I admit I am too lazy to roll that out myself). If you need someone to talk to or advice, email me. It made a HUGE difference in my health and I lost about 10 lbs as well. So many stores have entire GF aisles now.

  • Sheryl Link

    I give you lots of credit for trying, Ruth. I was just reading about gluten- free diets today. Although lots of people don’t appear to be gluten- intolerant,, some feel a lot better on a GF diet. It’s worth a try, I suppose. Personally for me, it would be a BIG struggle. Keep us posted, please!

  • Good luck going gluten-free. It is an interesting idea, but I am not a bean fan and occasionally I love a steak or burger. But I do like quinoa!

  • Hi Ruth,

    Just wondered whether you had seen this recent article in the NY Times:

    Sounds like we still have a lot to learn about gluten!

    Best, Irene

  • Cindy Link

    All I can say about gluten-free people is that they make very difficult dinner guests! The last gathering I had involved baking a sweet potato for the gluten-free friend. Everybody else had pret-ty great lasagna.

  • Good luck-from a completely undisciplined eater. Although, like you, I am able to avoid those veggies and other foods I don’t like. Maybe if I could convince myself somehow that I don’t like bread or pasta……nope-can’t see it happening here.

  • We tried gluten-free breads for a while last year, and I found them atrocious in both flavor and texture. I hope you have better luck. Wheat is definitely on the outs, but this girl likes her carbs far too much.

  • Deborah Lee Link

    I’ve had to eliminate potatoes (white) & tomatoes as well. I never found a potato I didn’t like, but they really make my joints ache. And I’ve added black cherry juice to the diet to help with the aches and pains. But sometimes when it’s a weather front coming through or a low pressure area, nothing helps. Good luck. Most gluten-free foods don’t agree with me either, except for Van’s apple cinnamon waffles – if you can afford them!! 🙂

  • yes, gluten-free is becoming easier — it will be interesting to see how you feel after have been on it for awhile. I know people who’ve had great success (ie weight loss, more energy). As a diabetic, I tend to stay away from bread/wheat products anyway, but when I do have them it is in very small amounts.

  • Good luck! I’m not big on GF pre-prepared foods, myself. I tend to eat in food traditions that aren’t highly dependent on glutens anyway. If you choose wisely, Asian and sub-continent foods are usually good. Just beware of soy sauce, may have wheat in them.

  • msue Link

    Gluten free dessert tip: Next time you are at WF, check out the cookies made by the WOW Baking Company. I’ve tried several, and can vouch for the Oregon Oatmeal cookies, which are wheat & gluten free. I’m not that big a fan of their other cookies, but the oatmeal one is great. In my WF, the cookies can be found in the bread area, along with other similar items.

    And kudos for the gluten-free trial. I always feel better when I’m following a GF diet.

  • I’m anxious to hear more about your GF journey. If it works for you, I might try it. Or might not. It depends.

  • Hilarious. I don’t know what or how I feel about being gluten free, whether it’s a fad or a really good idea. But good for you for trying it! And your friends’ intolerance makes for good jokes on them…

  • One more thing to add — there is a downside to gluten free that most people aren’t aware of. Very unfortunately, some companies are putting FAVA BEAN flour in gluten free mixes. More people have fava intolerances or, in my son’s case, severe reactions to fava beans. If they go gluten free, they might find out the hard way by going into anemic shock…

  • You’ve lasted the day how has it been since then? My hubby would agree with yours he’d rather eat anything than a bowl of quinoa.

  • LOVED this! I’ve done gluten free (because we thought our son had intolerance). Not easy. And yeah. We eat quinoa too. I’m the only willing participant.

    Found you through shewrites and looking forward to reading more.

  • Betty Link

    Congrats to your hourly success of gluten-free. Being a bread ad cookie addict I succumbed after 4 great congratulating myself days to whoops oh no bringing home a bag of oatmeal raisin cookies disaster. Trying again!!

    On another subject have you heard about new play just opened in NY “Ann”. As in Ann Richards. Wonder if it will be banned in big Texas?!

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