Why I don’t want to eat at your party

“Can’t you just pick out the parts you don’t want to eat?”

Considering that I can neither see, taste, nor smell the parts that make me sick, I’m gonna go with No. I’ll just eat the stuff I know is safe for me, thanks.

“Oh, well, a little bit never hurt anybody, right?”

Would you please tell that to my gut? It still hasn’t clued in on this concept. The last time I thought that, I had the most horrific bathroom problems for three solid days, I didn’t sleep right for about a week, had awful Depression that whole time–which cleared up once the gluten got out of my system–and was losing nutrition in my body for that entire time, since my GI tract was so inflamed that it couldn’t absorb anything, thereby throwing my body into starvation mode, no matter how much I did or didn’t eat. I had brain fog for a week, where I just couldn’t think, and I could barely function at my job. I had insomnia and fatigue at the same time, and during all of that, I was driving on the same roads as you. But hey, you know what? Thanks for your expert  advice, and congratulations on your new medical degree. I’m sure you’ve been studying up on this WAY more than I have since my diagnosis three years ago.

“I know you have gluten issues, so I made this thing just for you.”

You made this for me? You thought me when you didn’t have to? I’m so grateful I could burst into tears. Thank you. Thank you so much! It’s just…before I take a bite, did you check all of the other ingredients, too? Besides the most obvious ones?  Your marinade was made with soy sauce, whose second ingredient is usually wheat. And this has white vinegar in it, which could have been made with malt (barley), but we have no way of knowing–sometimes even the manufacturer doesn’t even know. And you’re right: oats are naturally gluten-free, but here in the states, oats are stored, transported, and processed in the same facilities as wheat, rye, and barley, which means by the time they hit the shelves, it is entirely possible that the oats have more gluten ON them than wheat has IN it. I know, this is weird and gluten has no business being in these things, but it is. Welcome to my world. It took me about two years to find all the hidden ways gluten was still sneaking into my diet. I don’t expect you to pick it all up in one afternoon. But what that means is that while I am SO GRATEFUL that you brought this dish with me in mind–seriously, you have no idea!–I cannot safely eat it. Unless it was prepared by someone who understands what gluten is and where it hides, I don’t want to eat it. But thank you so deeply for thinking of me.

“Well, we have a salad. You can eat that, right?”

Oh, gods. Another one? Why can’t I eat a normal meal like I used to? So sick of salad. This party is full of the most amazing foods. I mean, the smells alone are sending me into heaven, and breaking bread together is such an important part of human community building, and I so want to take part in that. I’m not on a diet. You guys are all eating these fried/breaded/baked delicacies, and I wish I could have just one more bite, one more taste of golden, greasy goodness, to share in the communal offerings… But not even one bite is worth the health risks I’m facing. I don’t want to eat myself into dying from malnutrition or even just having bones so brittle they snap under any stress. I don’t want to get osteoporosis or anemia. I’ve seen what that does to people. I don’t want to lose so many nutrients that my hair falls out or I can no longer think straight. And I really don’t want to spend the next three days in the bathroom. Besides, checking the salad dressing you’re offering, I see that it was made in a facility where the manufacturer cannot guarantee that some wheat didn’t get into the mix, meaning this stuff may be horribly contaminated for me, even though you cannot tell the difference. This means I get to eat my veggies raw. Again. But there is literally nothing else here that is safe for me, so Salad would be lovely. Thank you for thinking of me.   

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No Longer a N00b: Gluten-Free Resources

I’m realizing that I have quite a collection of resources at my fingertips for living a strictly gluten-free lifestyle. I think it’s about time that I share them with whoever else might need a little guidance– or maybe you’re more of an expert than me, but are looking to expand your knowledge base. 🙂 This list is by no means complete. It’s just my favorites. Continue reading No Longer a N00b: Gluten-Free Resources

Lies, Damned Lies, and Politics

I have been engaging in political discussions with someone who sits on the other side of the fence from me. (In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m pretty damn liberal.) She has been absolutely wonderful. She is usually clear and generally well-studied and doesn’t foam at the mouth. I love talking with her about this stuff, because I am learning from her. I am learning about the concerns and perspectives of the people on “the other side”—when they are thinking, rational people, rather than the ones that just repeat rhetoric, because that’s what someone else on “their side” said.

I’m also learning about myself. I’m learning that I do that. I’ve been doing all of it. I’ve been foaming at the mouth, and I’ve been repeating things people on “my side” said without doing any fact checking. I’ve been waiting for her to finish her argument, so that I could prove her wrong, rather than actively listening to the points she’s been trying to make. In short, I’ve been acting as horribly as the “Them” I claim are out there.

Sunshyne, thank you for your patience with me. And I’m sorry if for when I got too aggressive.

And here’s what I have learned from this incredibly humbling experience.

I have been so busy trying to be Right in the last few weeks that I haven’t been listening. I acted as if I thought her concerns weren’t valid at all, when the fact is, they are. Her concerns are every bit as valid as mine. I have absolutely no right to walk over hers—or worse yet, to walk over hers while announcing that I’m angry that people are walking over mine.

I have learned/remembered that angry people shout because they feel unheard. I do feel unheard. And I think she does too. People don’t share, and they certainly don’t concede, when they feel like they don’t have enough for their own well-being. This applies to food, this applies to money, and it certainly applies to attention.

The fact is, we live in a complicated society. There are a LOT of people here, from every walk of life, from every religion, every nationality. State and federal governments have the responsibility of protecting the rights of all of us—even the ones we don’t agree with. And that is what makes our nation great. We don’t have a theocracy. We don’t have one to rule them all. We govern ourselves. Together.

Part of this wake-up came about when she and I were discussing the Oregonian bakers who refused service to a gay couple on religious grounds. I spouted opinions. She spouted opinions. And then we both went and read the final filing from the court ruling, and really, my opinions on what the case were about were dead-wrong. Hers were off-based, too, but not nearly as much as mine. I realized I had fallen victim to “headline reading”. Scratch that. I chose to only read headlines, and since you cannot trust all of those guys who spout opposing opinions, because they’re all wrong, I only read headlines that seemed like they probably agree with me.

In an environment where you can Like, Share, Upvote, Downvote and Pin something with just one click, it’s becoming more challenging to do due diligence. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I just wanted to move on to my next headline. The problem was, the headlines were very, very misleading.

I know. Yellow journalism is not news. It never was. But that’s not what I’m actually here to say. What I want to say is I’ll be doing my best to do a little more reading and a little less shouting in the coming days. As old saw goes, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” (And, no, Mark Twain didn’t say it first. Neither did Abraham Lincoln. I know this, because I did my research.)


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I have to keep reminding myself that it was ALWAYS thus. Whether you’re watching today’s news or reading about ancient history, the stories are remarkably the same.

There have always been people in the world who will take advantage of others. Sometimes, it is politically, sometimes economically, sometimes physically. Continue reading Always