What’s so “Free” about Gluten-Free

Living on a Seesaw Between Gratitude and Regret

Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

The word “Free” reminds me of freedom. Freedom is a word that shouts opportunity, independence, rights, liberty, emancipation, and I visualize a lack of constraints.

Living life with an intolerance to gluten makes me feel like I am on a seesaw with gratitude and regret. Gratitude because I have figured out a way to feel my best, have extra assistance maintaining my weight, do not have a more severe condition and have the available means in today’s society to eat a particular way. Regret because there are so many healthy and delicious foods I miss out on, often feel excluded and there are times I am frustrated because I was not organized enough to bring a supplemental snack.

There are moments when I crave freshly baked bread.

I remember what it was like to hold biscuits up to my nose to inhale the glorious aroma or close my eyes to go back to the days where I could pick up a piece of bread lather it with butter and savor the experience of the world’s goodness. And then I remember, I am gluten-free.

Gluten-free food is becoming more popular, but there are still many experiences that remind me the food is not for me. Coffee hour snacks at church are almost always filled with regular flower. Treats in the workroom are rarely gluten-free.

I understand that I am projecting my own emotions on events. But gosh, there are times when I feel sad and bummed out that there aren’t any options available.

Often there are limited options to dive into at a particular location. Before I got a handle on how my body worked and how to maintain my weight, eating gluten-free helped me. There were many times I had to pass on a dish of fried food or doughnuts at the apple orchard to not feel badly afterward. This is an example of where a weakness can be a strength.

There are so many delicious healthy foods. There are amazing nutritious, low calorie, high fiber and protein snacks that are off-limits for someone with a gluten intolerance. Sometimes I wonder if I would eat more substantial meals if I had the option of more ingredients. Gluten-free foods can have a lot of sugar and lack certain ingredients. Although, being gluten-free not only makes me feel better but challenges me to look at the ingredients in things.

When the pantry is looking bare and there is a lack of gluten-free items, creativity is required. I have crafted a few elaborate dishes with beans, apples, spices, and nuts. I am also willing to try eating different ways because I am used to a restriction in diet. I have experimented with Keto, eliminating dairy, and eating 10 specific ingredients for 10 days.

Eating gluten-free is becoming more affordable. I remember the days when I would spend 50 dollars and walk out of a health food store with only a few items to show for my experience. I hated to try new foods because the cost was overwhelming, and I was not sure I would like a new product. Today, so many more things are available and can be included in a reasonable food budget.

While the cost has improved for several things, I still have moments where I say, “$6.75” for bread?

Sometimes it feels like an extra tax on life. But, then I realize that thinking ahead and planning are things that successful people do. Eating gluten-free stretches me and requires me to think in advance.

When I plan, I am not reacting to the environment. Instead, I am focused on creating the experience I want to have.

As an athlete planning with food is something I could do better at. The more I train to smash running goals the more I should make sure that I am not leaving anything to chance.

Fortunately, a gluten-free diet is something only one person in our family has had to adapt to. I am fortunate that my kids do not have to miss out or have prearranged foods.

As an adult, I can understand why I am not able to eat things. I can also be disciplined due to past experiences and realize that there will be consequences for not following a diet.

And, if I miss out on something to eat, I can always wait. I am really glad that I will be the one struggling rather than my kids.

If gluten-free pop tarts are on the shelf, they will be bought every time. Being gluten-free over the last 10 years has offered me opportunities for pure excitement. I remember doing a double-take when Chex and Cheerios became gluten-free. And the look of delight on my face when I was offered a gluten-free bun in a restaurant as priceless.

Having a gluten allergy is pretty good on the cake if things that I could have to deal with. I have the means and resources to live a very full life without gluten.

I am fortunate to be alive in a time when a doctor was able to diagnose it, food is available and there is frequent information and conversation about gluten and the effects it can have on a person.

While some days are tougher than others, being gluten-free is something that puts me in control. I can make myself feel good. I can take charge of my circumstances and be prepared for any event. I can also control the way I can react to events. These are all things that will contribute to my success In many areas of life.

I am a wife, mother, educator, writer, reader and marathon runner. I blog at EnjoyingEveryMile.com and chase my impossible. Follow me on Twitter at @lmcdonell14

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