New year, new me…
Well, sort of. After taking what I consider a stay-at-home-sabbatical, meaning a month and a half period of REAL rest, complete with sleep (more than 5 or 6 hours a night!), a whole lot of Netflix in bed, several good books, pancake breakfasts in the afternoon after arising from twelve hour sleep-marathons, attempting to tackle a still-unmanageable pile of things to do and lots of delicious red wine, I’m back at it.
I don’t make resolutions, per se, as I admit several years back I made a ‘change my diet’ resolution (which included giving gluten the axe) and that probably lasted, oh, about two weeks ending in unhealthy tortilla binges. However, I do ‘resolve’ to visit new places I’ve never been every year. And to try things I’ve never done before. So, let me refine my statement a little bit: I make resolutions and fully support those of others that entail new adventures and foster mental, physical and spiritual growth and betterment. I do not make resolutions and advise others against those that involve numbers, self-imposed denial of anything, or any sort of masochistic restrictions that have the inevitable end result of a) being broken or b) breaking you.
My journey to gluten-freedom was an adventure that is ongoing yet; removing all foods, drinks and other products with gluten was a slow and conscious process during which I honored my body, my desires and my weaknesses. Complete dietary and lifestyle change and the benefits that it bestows upon me have been a blessing, but ‘change’ is really just an umbrella term for an evolving set of processes that in coordination represent the abstract ‘change’ paradigm. Change for me is conscious effort and thought in daily choices: to go to bed early instead of staying up late watching tv, drinking herbal tea instead of alcohol, going to yoga instead of sleeping in. Trust me, I don’t always make the healthier choice, because this would be somewhat masochistic/obsessive-compulsive/make-life-a-living-hell. In fact, ALWAYS making the ‘right’ choice would be akin to making resolutions. What seems to be overall a healthier and more sustainable intention: vowing to go to the gym every morning for two hours or attempting to go to the gym several times per week during times when you would otherwise be doing something less inclined to healthy development?
I think I’ve hammered the point in by now. I should admit at this point that I do in fact have a resolution (one of the good kinds of resolutions, of course). Updating this blog. On a regular, biweekly schedule. I’ve returned to wordpress and am very excited to share the things I’ve discovered, mixed, concocted and read about as of late. And I think this resolution will set me up for many more adventures, which will be condensed, organized into words, pictures, and more rants, and eventually be shared with y’all.
So, my friends, this spiel about resolutions and eating gluten-free (especially for us non-celiac gluten-freers) is really my mind’s inconclusive effort to come to terms with an article I read back in December in Creative Loafing, one of my absolute favorite reviews for all things food and fun in Atlanta. “Trends to be banished in 2013,” posted by Cliff Bostock on December 27th predicted the end of several gourmet trends that did truly set some frivolous, if not outright aggravating, standards on our plates during the past year. A little playful sarcasm without any truly hardball cynicism, his prescient musing takes current foodie peeves such as the overuse of white truffle oil (which IS fake), the omnipresence of fried eggs on top of everything, and the “gentrification of ‘nose-to-tail dining” (cleverly worded and SO true), among many others. Yet, one of his final thoughts struck a different chord: “I know that many people are allergic to gluten. At its worst, it’s called celiac disease. Milder cases are called gluten sensitivity. I’m sorry. But please stop making a scene at the table if you can’t find gluten-free dishes or the server has no idea what you’re talking about. Why not call ahead and ask?”
As a gluten-freer by choice (guided by professional opinion on managing autoimmune disease) and not by restriction, my gluten-free ego is torn in half by this statement. Yes, I am somewhat offended; in part, because I don’t make a scene when this scenario arises. I just don’t eat. And then my friends at the table get annoyed and self-conscious that they’re gorging themselves in front of a ‘sick person’ that can’t eat. Sigh. Mostly, though, because I know people that do get violently ill from cross-contamination from anything that has even touched wheat. If something says ‘gluten-free’ on the menu, yes, in fact, they have a right to ‘make a scene’ in the instance that a restaurant’s chose to implement a health safety guarantee on its own volition and did not live up to its self-imposed standard.
On second thought, I support Bostock’s appeal in a sort of twisted turn of logic. I have ranted extensively about my feelings on the ‘gluten-free trend,’ and from this perspective, I commend his plea to end the obnoxious behavior of said patrons. Those that have mini-meltdowns tableside are more likely to be the trend-followers, seeking attention via the ‘I’m healthier and more disciplined than you’ route. When you are forced or even choose to commit to a gluten-free diet, your approach to food and the way you structure your daily diet is changed fundamentally; I wouldn’t show up at a pizza restaurant and be completely blown away that there is not a single thing on the menu that I could eat, subsequently throwing a fit out of genuine disappointment. It’s not an amateur move…a scenario like that (a pizza restaurant representing one extreme to prove my point) just wouldn’t really happen in the life of a dedicated gluten-freer.
But, before you take offense, remember, I am still completely conflicted about the statement. The world isn’t black and white, and in more instances than not, I find myself going to dinner at a new restaurant right after work, my only opportunity to look at the menu was on my iPhone in miniscule print while driving to the restaurant, and, in reality, I have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE whether I will be able to eat or not. I don’t blame the restaurant, but my growling stomach and that overly-concerned friend that wants to rain on everyone else’s parade and go to another restaurant just to accomodate me don’t make those situations any easier.
In conclusion, gluten-freers, keep on gluten-freein’. And thank you, Mr. Bostock, for making me think. Take it day by day; don’t make unreasonable resolutions that you know you can’t keep; be polite and understanding to waiters but never be afraid to grill them about cooking methods and cross-contamination prevention procedures; look at menus beforehand when possible, and if not possible, remember wine IS indeed gluten-free, and I highly suggest it when there is nothing else to consume on the menu. It makes dealing with the “oh great he can’t eat anything here” situation just a little bit easier to deal with.
Good to be back. And friends, check out these other great reads I’ve come across lately:
“Removing ‘Sacrifice’ from ‘Gluten-Free” in the New York Times
and Atlanta dining suggestions in “Great Gluten-Free Nights Out” from our good friend, Scoutmob