A good old-fashioned dietary rant
It was suggested that I have gluten intolerance 18 months ago, after having spent 6 months with random symptoms that wouldn’t go away. It is worth mentioning it took visiting 6 doctors (including a homoeopathist) to determine this.
I must admit I have not been a model patient – in fact, I have been anything but.
I went gluten free for the requisite 20 test days for the sakes of assessing results. Then for the next 3 months I went on a trial and error spree, during which I was continually frustrated (the amount of gluten that lurks in the most innocent looking things is beyond belief). Then I went on self-imposed exile where, after a bastard mix of on and off in Europe, I eventually abandoned all GF plans the second I landed in Latin America; the allure of exotic new dishes was bigger than that of sustaining immediate and mildly disgusting gluten symptoms. This reprieve lasted another year or so (note: it transpires that saying “to hell with it” wasn’t the best idea). After this I stayed purposefully gluten free for 2 whole months, still without always managing to dodge random gluten “bullets”.
Predictably, there are no results (to write home about).
Beaten, I have now decided to go the official avenue and do all the necessary tests to engineer a more sophisticated approach.
The way I see it, gluten-free eating poses 2 main challenges:
1. You can’t eat bread. And by bread feel free to think croissants, pizza, burger-buns, bagels, cakes, cookies , tacos – and their entire family & friends.
2. You basically can’t eat outside of home without being infected.
Aside from the above MEGA-frustrating issues, other challenges include:
– You can’t eat most desserts
– or junk food
– and all mainstream snacks
– and several types of beverages for that matter
– and most canned things
– and most frozen things
– and surely other things that I forget because I don’t care to remember
I do OF COURSE know that a healthy lifestyle begs that you don’t eat these things anyway, but hey… who doesn’t treasure the occasional bout of dirty eating.
To be fair (bizarrely) a GF diet allows you to eat most things. As long as you prepare them in the safety of your home, with ingredients you have personally handpicked to make sure are not harmful. It is the minute you step outside that disaster lurks.
It also needs to be said that there are gluten-free alternatives to almost everything at this point. The problem is (aside from the fact that they are mostly not edible) that, crucially, they are not available in the vast majority of restaurants, bars or any place you’d actually fancy going out to. Your average restaurant patently ignores the GF plague, making a night out a veritable torture.
Surviving a gluten-free diet is at the same time doable and a titanic frustration. If you happen to be a foodie, be prepared for major let-downs. If you are into clean-eating the venture will be a lot less scary. At some point you give up trying to cheat. You learn to not care -or pretend to not care- about the things you cannot eat. You even pretend to like their gluten-free alternatives. You do the cost-benefit analysis and you cannot be bothered anymore. But until you hit that point, be prepared for plenty of bargaining and resistance .
And then you become the character out of the JP Sears spoof video.
The above are not meant as expert advice of any type. They are simply take-outs from my personal experience with gluten-free living, coupled with the requisite rant. Feel free to rant along if you are not crazy in love with GF living (patronizing is not welcome though! :p)