I’ve found gluten freedom, and it is oh-so-liberating.
Before I figured out that I had a gluten intolerance, I was one sick lady. I couldn’t eat and weighed just 90 pounds. I was constantly nauseous and carried a sick bag with me everywhere. Every joint in my body throbbed in pain. I was achingly tired and honestly felt like I was dying. A good day meant that I made it to work and back home again…forget doing anything else. I could barely stand for more than a few minutes at a time because I was so weak. I never thought that my mid-20’s would look or feel that way.
When I tell people that I’m gluten-free, the common reaction is to remark on how terrible and hard it must be. But to me, it feels like freedom. I feel healthy again. Alive again.
Yes, there are times when it is difficult to manage a gluten intolerance. Yes, there are times when I am anxious about whether I’ll be able to find something I can eat at an event or worry about whether my server actually understands what I’m talking about when I ask whether a dish contains gluten. Yes, I occasionally throw myself a pity party.
The problem with that kind of attitude is that you allow your allergy or intolerance to place you in jail. You put bars up around yourself, preventing yourself from participating in normal, everyday life activities like going out to a restaurant with friends. Even worse, you confine yourself in an isolated prison cell of negative thoughts and disempowerment, seeing your allergy as something you are powerless against.
I refuse to do that. I choose gluten freedom.
It takes conscious effort to turn away from dwelling on the negative aspects of my situation, but it is well worth it. When I stop to acknowledge the good aspects of being gluten-free, I realize how much I have to be grateful for. Being gluten-free is so much better than the alternative of literally wasting away in my own skin. I am fortunate enough to have access to and be able to afford gluten-free food products. And eating gluten-free gets easier and easier each day as more restaurants and grocery stores offer gluten-free options.
This week, I went to the North Carolina State Fair for the first time since I developed a gluten intolerance. Previously, going to the fair had been one of my favorite annual traditions, and I ate all the deep fried foods in sight. I had been avoiding the fair for several years because I wasn’t sure if there would be anything I could eat amongst the deep fried Oreo’s and Krispy Kreme Burgers. I honestly just wasn’t sure if it would be fun anymore. But I was allowing that prison cell to creep back up around me.
I conquered my fears this week and had myself a blast at the state fair. I almost cried with happiness when I saw the “gluten free” sign taped to the wall of Al’s French Fries. And I ate the heck out of some roasted corn. And even if I hadn’t found anything to eat, I would have kept my head raised high and just been grateful that I was out in the warm autumn sun enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the fair. I refused to let my gluten intolerance stop me from stepping out and having a great day.
I feel empowered. Little by little, I am claiming my gluten freedom.