So You’re Going Gluten-Free…

I try to live my life as gluten-free as possible. Before you write me off as a pretentious douche-bag, you need to know that I am doing this for health reasons. My immune system is kind of a jerk, and gluten is like the final tequila shot that sends it over the edge. Lupus is a disease that really likes to mess with me, and I do everything I can to keep it in check.  My approach to treating this illness is through the naturopathic route. I’ve been on various types of medication, and even the most benign ones have awful side effects. My amazing doctor has me taking fun stuff like b-12, vitamin d, and other natural things to keep me going. Unfortunately, she told me that there is a link between the immune system response and eating gluten. She also mentioned that the human body isn’t meant to consume this much gluten to begin with! The first question that flew out of my mouth was, “is there gluten in vodka.” She looked at me sympathetically and said, “I’m afraid so.” This diagnosis was cruel.

Initially, I was embarrassed to be associated with this trendy and expensive diet. Did that mean I could only buy my groceries at Whole Foods and start driving a Volvo like all of Portland, Oregon? I felt I was too cool and too poor to be indulging in the gluten-free lifestyle. However, the idea of feeling better and not being in so much pain seemed nice. I began the process of getting rid of gluten…

Did you know vodka was originally made with potatoes? Americans, being the wheat-loving nation that we are, started to distill it from grains. I now drink Monopolwa, a potato-based vodka made in Poland. Every time I go out, I specifically request this with club soda and lime. I won’t lie, it’s pretty harsh if you don’t squeeze that lime in there. It kind of tastes like gasoline, but I go with it because that’s what champions do. There was an instance when someone was trying to lay down the mack sauce on Stefanie, and this guy decided to be smart and buy BOTH of us drinks (side note: always charm the friend because she is the gatekeeper). After she told him my drink order, I overheard the guy say, “oh god, she’s one of those people that doesn’t eat gluten?” Stefanie, even in her semi-buzzed state said, “it’s for health reasons,” which translated into: “don’t be an asshole.”  Thanks, girl.

I gave up on sliced bread. We decided to go our own ways. Giving up toast and sandwiches has been difficult.  I bought a loaf of gluten-free bread for $7 and it was the worst decision. The slices of “bread” (it’s not bread, it’s garbage) fell apart in the toaster or while I was spreading avocado on it. It was such a disaster it looked like I was performing in a bad infomerical.

Gluten is in a lot of things. It’s even in soy sauce! I have to think twice before consuming anything! Although it seems like a miserable existence having to monitor what you eat, it’s not so bad. I’ve learned that if you eat your greens, your fruits, and a lean protein,  you should be good. It’s almost like eating a low-carb diet, except I try to eat things that are as close to nature as possible. Not all the time, but I try. I will say that if you want to be almost 100% gluten-free, you have to do some serious meal planning. After leaving my job, I will definitely focus more on the planning part. Here are some things I have learned:

  • Rice and beans are your friends
  • Most Mexican food involves rice, beans, and corn tortillas (stay away from flour tortillas, those delicious bastards)
  • Most Asian food involves a lot of rice
  • Gluten-Free pizza is only good on a CORN-base
  • Rice pasta and rice-based anything is disgusting
  • Rice pasta turns into glue if you overcook it
  • Potato is the homie (fries, taco de papa, mashed potatoes, tater tots, the list can go on…)
  • If you find there is nothing to eat when you go out, you can’t go wrong with a garden salad and a side of fries.
  • Tortilla chips should sponsor my life, but I should really quit those for a little while.
  • Gluten might be in salad dressing
  • Gluten is found in: wheat, durum wheat, rye, spelt, oats (UNLESS they say gluten-free), barley, kamut, semolina, and beer.
  • Polenta (corn-based italian food) can go sweet or savory.

Personally, I just feel so much better when I adhere to being gluten-free.

  • Weekly monster migraines are GONE
  • My joints don’t feel so achy
  • I can get out of bed much faster
  • I feel lighter on my feet
  • I feel much more “present” and mentally intact.
  • dropped a pant size (but let’s keep it real, I still eat fries and tortilla chips and there is NO gluten in ice cream)
  • makes you conscious of what goes in to your body
  • makes you conscious of how you treat your body.

Dealing with gluten is like talking to that guy you know is bad for you. All of your friends are like, “girl, stop!”, but you answer the texts, the phone calls, and secretly hope that he remembers your birthday. Oh, he’ll show up to your birthday, but he’ll be super drunk and disorderly. You’ll end up crying in the bathroom the whole night. But lord, gluten is so delicious, sometimes its hard to say no.

I’m on a mission to live my life as gluten-free as possible. It will be difficult, but I think I can do it. If you don’t need to be gluten-free, then don’t. However, if you choose to, I’m here to support you. I have to do it because I like living my life free of medication and lupus complications. These were the cards that were dealt to me. If you don’t have these cards, then eat your cake, boo.

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