Because all things in my life must be sardonically coincidental, yes, the anniversary of me no longer deliberately ingesting gluten falls on National Doughnut Day. Of course.
I've learned some pretty rad things in the last year that I wouldn't even have imagined would ever make connections in my brain space. Please enjoy the following list of the seven surprising things I've learned since going gluten-free:
1. "Naked" food is delicious.
No, I'm not talking about eating food in the nude (however, if you're into that, but all means… ).
I'm talking about eating food by itself without any major supporting ingredients. Vegetables alone are delicious. Cheese does not necessarily need crackers. Deli meat without a bun is actually amazing, and I'm sorry, Dad for always judging you for snarfing down whole packages of deli ham with nothing else. Can we share now?
The point is that the more you let food be the food it is, and the less you dress it up to be something it's not the better it seems to taste. That wasn't meant to be metaphorical but somehow we ended up there...
2. Asparagus is delicious.
And so are peaches, and shallots, and sweet potatoes, and roma tomatoes, and cauliflower, and green beans, and kale. (Sorry, had to).
You can only go so long eating the five items of produce you know and like before turning into some kind of robo-eater. After three months of bell peppers, broccoli, and bananas eating was more of an obligation to my body than a really incredible treat. And as a celiac you already have enough dietary obligations. So get out there! Get cray! Make your sad, wilted insides happy with a damn plantain or something else weird.
3. Pre-packaged "gluten-free" food is actually not that good, and is usually super easy to make at home.
Pasta noodles, pretzels, and GF oreos are about the only things I buy from the GF section at the grocery store these days. The packaged breads, muffins, waffles, etc. are exciting! But they are also bland, usually frozen, and always grainy. I've had 1000% better success with homemade versions of these.
The pre made stuff is fine for when you're in a bind or need to feel like the average American, but be prepared to apologize to your taste buds (and wallet).
4. Having fewer choices isn't always bad.
Your menu will likely always be smaller than everyone else's but your decision making process will win medals. The shock of having fewer choices is hard at first, but after a while it becomes a nice perk. You never have to worry about picking the wrong dish because you already know out of the four options available which one you'd like the best. The ease of picking between four tasty things vs. 20 has been credited to many of my mini victories over the last year.
5. People will treat you like an idiot.
Blank stares, eye rolls, and laughter are actions toward me I didn't expect in my post-g world. And I'm not trying to blame anyone, but dining out is forever different.
Hang on to the restaurants that "get it" and tip big to the servers who don't reply in a short, disgusted tone when you request your special meal. Eat out with the friends and family who know not to make a big deal out of your weird-shaped bun, and find different activities to do with the group who laughs at you when you say you won't order something because "it's not safe."
But most of all, forgive the dummies. You speak a different language now, one that that they will never get. They see a salad with crouton crumbs as a healthy meal, while you see it as three days of terrible bowl movements. It's all Greek to them. But hey - good news! You speak Greek now.
6. The boys you want to date will Google your disease.
And not make fun of gluten-free needs on the Interwebs.
Yes, a person's internet behavior is as much a qualifying factor in the mate selection process as ever these days, and if Bro A can't take a minute to read some Jane Anderson articles about your existence but feels like a badass tweeting, "she requested a GF menu and then the date was over" you might want to let that ship sail into the Iceberg of Karma that it's speeding toward.
Bro B, however has not only done a Google search to figure out WTF this is, but he even suggested a GF restaurant to take you to.
Ding ding ding ding ding!
You get to kiss me. (Please don't drink beer).
7. I am not a victim.
This is a new concept for me, I'll be honest. Maybe I'm finally at the "acceptance" phase of my g-grieving process, but either way I feel strongly about this.
Having an inconvenience in your life does not make you a victim. No one has wronged you. It's just how your cookie crumbled. Being brutally murdered to death for absolutely no reason does make you a victim.
I joke and complain and silently laugh at all the mean g-eaters to give myself some kind of entitled coping mechanism. But really, knowing I have this disease saved my life.
So, one and done, guys! Here's to the next ___ years. TBD, of course, for when the estimated date of the cure for celiac disease is announced. Because it's happening. Has to.