Sometimes I just don’t want the whole crowd to know I have a broken body that rejects the food they eat.
Food freaks me out. Why? Years ago, before it was trendy, I went gluten-free and it has been one of the hardest commitments I’ve ever made.
The decision to become a Gluten Freak came in my mid 20’s, after years of physical pain, organ failure and constant mood changes. Not even yoga or running would soothe my mind or body with gluten in my system.
I felt as if adulthood showed me I was broken.
These days it seems like “Gluten-Free” is the marketing strategy du jour—and it is a constant reminder that I’m a freak.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the fact that options have increased in restaurants and grocery stores. I feel like an outsider; I take it personally that I can’t eat just anything to feel well.
I have to eat special.
For the longest time this food allergy would keep me away from family and social activities where food and drink existed to tempt me. Having to pre-eat before a gathering knowing there would be nothing viable for me, or bringing my food with me and sneaking it onto my plate became a normal routine.
Every holiday I still long to taste the foods I ate growing up, but know it will give me pain. Loved ones with kind hearts go out of their way to make a stuffing or pie I can eat, bringing the new recipe creation to the table in a separate dish for the “Gluten Freak” in the room.
Just once, I would like to say, “Yes, I’ll take a beer thanks for offering…” Instead, I have to pack my cooler or ask what else they can offer me to drink. Arrrrgh—the Gluten Freak personality takes over!
My spine cringes when the whole social conversation turns to me and my food allergy, or a friend overhears me talking to the waitress in a low voice about my order.
I’m not in hiding; I just reached a point of feeling like a broken record, explaining over and over things about my body to the curious person in front of me. Living from a script gets really tiring.
I like to share, but sometimes I just don’t want the whole crowd to know I have a broken body that rejects the food they eat.
I tap into my yogi mind of patience to kindly explain to them why I live this type of life. Gluten Freak feelings are always there. I find myself telling people, “If you don’t have to eat gluten-free why start…it sucks.”
Once I went gluten-free, road trips presented new obstacles. Traveling added a whole new dimension of planning, packing and and feeling open to enjoy the journey ahead. Travel mates would ask where I could eat, and it was hard because I don’t like to be singled out; nobody does, do they? Well, maybe reality show contestants, but that’s not my style.
Recently I fell off the wagon and ate donuts; four to be exact, from a Michigan farm I stopped at during a brisk fall camping trip. It was an emotional choice; I was away from my sanctuaries of home and yoga studio. I convinced myself I was living in the moment when I ate the donuts, not thinking of my past or future: “Eat up because this could be it…Carpe Diem.”
I was sick for days afterward. As the physical pains subsided, my mind took over with guilt sprinkled with anger about making myself sick. I sucked it up and went about life, not sharing my Freak feelings; I was too concerned about how I would look. I was angry at the thought of: Right Now.
First of the month came and the Gluten Freak in me decided to stop suffering. I opened my heart to a few close friends asking for support and love. I’d never done this before, but the universe led me to decide to begin again. So what—I ate four donuts and caused myself sickness. I am letting it go.
With yoga on my side, I know that I am strong, confident and can work through the Freak feelings.
At a recent training where gluten-free food was offered I met other Gluten Freaks; I know I am not alone. I am no longer angry at being in the present moment; I re-focused my thoughts and put an end to the self-torture.
I headed to the grocery store with this fresh attitude, ran into some gluten-free donuts in the freezer section and splurged on the sugary purchase. I even snapped a photo to remember that feeling of loving the fact that I was in the right place at the right moment.
That night I made gluten-free turkey & avocado burgers (with buns) and drank a hard cider (naturally gluten-free) while watching the Detroit Tigers on television score to make the playoffs. It was the feast to say goodbye to the Gluten Freak and hello to gluten-freedom…
Amanda DeChamplain hails from Michigan, is a yoga teacher and a Tigers baseball fan. For the past year she has taken a journey to teach and writing is her way of connecting to the process of yoga.
Editor: Jennifer Townsend
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