A Happy New Year to all! How has 2017 been treating you?
Ours has been riddled with exciting new changes through moving out of our storefront.
“Today we said goodbye to our beautiful storefront and hello to a wonderful new phase of our business. A huge thank you to everyone who supports us. We can’t wait to start serving you in this new endeavor!”
It was a bittersweet goodbye to all the lovely memories we made here, but an inspiring jump into something we believe will be better. We’re still working on getting all our ducks in their prospective places, so please bear with us as we get everything set up on this new path! We hope to have our online shop up in the next couple weeks and our phone line will soon be operational to take orders once again.
What about your 2016 ending? Did you close out the year with a bang or big shift?
Or perhaps you were recently banished. Forced out of the cool-kid circle by no choice of your own. You sit on the edge of this fresh new year, looking out into a foreign land with which you have neither allies nor familiarity. You can hear the cadence of your old life singing off the cliffs behind you, merry with the celebrations of a blissfully simple existence. But such is not the case for you.
You have learned some terrible news that has left you breathless.
You can’t eat gluten.
This elusive binder hanging out in all your favorite foods has turned into a wraith of misery when you consume it. While your friends skip off in their happy symbiosis, you’re left sitting on the edge of this foreign land. You know you can’t go back and face the wraiths any longer. And so, with stomach growling, you heft yourself up and set off to brave your new path.
However, you quickly discover you were never properly trained for this much physical (and emotional) endurance. It’s as if you just learned that you’ve lost a dearest loved one. You stumble forward in a state of shock. You hold back the tears, reminding yourself that you are too strong to cry over something so silly. You fight back the bitterness, reminding yourself that it is no one’s fault that this has happened. You groan with your stomach. You find yourself whimpering at the blisters on your feet and the lack of bread in your belly.
The ground is rocky and desolate and blanketed in a miserable fog. It’s as though this new world is only gray. Without joy. All you can think about is the cozy, colorful home you left. Oh, how you wish to return! Oh to feel the warmth of a hot loaf of bread! Oh to taste the bliss of all your favorite foods once again!
Until finally you stumble and fall to the ground. Your strength is gone and you find yourself weeping on the craggy ground. “I can’t do it,” you say. “How can I go on? How can I live in such a place?”
But suddenly you hear a twinkle akin to the melodic rhythm of fingers hitting keys and lift your head to peer through your blurry tears at a glowing figure approaching you. Maybe she’s your fairy godmother. Maybe she’s an angel of hope. Or maybe she’s just a simple traveler who’s tread the path before you. In any case, she’s here to help.
Here’s what she says.
First of all, you can do it. It is possible to pass over this craggy ground to the fertile land beyond.
In the meantime, get out a can of beans, cook up some rice, mix it together and get your potato chips out. If you’d like, you can even throw some seasonings into your beans and rice. Or some salsa. Whatever tickles your happy spot. Curl up with your bowl of yummy and dip those chips.
You don’t have to go hungry for the rest of your life.
Chips are still on the menu, and even if you have to avoid corn, too, there’s still potato chips to fall back on.
Embrace the many, many applications of a trusty potato and a bowl of rice. These two gems have endless applications and carry little threat of turning into another of those wraiths that haunt your sleep.
It’s okay if you’re not quite ready to jump into experimenting with these, yet. Just keep in mind that you do have options to turn to.
Accept the grieving process
It may sound silly and trivial.
“Grief?” you say. “How can I grieve over spilled flour?”
You can. And you will. This will be a huge change to your everyday life.
First, you have denial.
“No, no, it’s not gluten that’s my problem. I ate lots of other things at the same time. It could be any of those other things. I’m perfectly fine. Besides, how can you go without a sandwich or that piece of toast in the morning? It’s just unthinkable.”
All of which end in you facing the wraiths for the next several days.
Finally, you’ll reach a point where you realize you must venture away from all you know and put down the morning toast. It’s not worth the price.
And then anger sets in.
Every time you get ready to fix dinner or look over the menu at your favorite restaurant, you cry out the anthem, “I can’t eat anything! There’s never anything to eat!”
This one will come in waves and may be one of the hardest to kick. Some days it’s simply frustrating to try to fix dinner. No expression of grief is perfectly linear and clean. But I can say it’ll get better. Just hang on.
Bargaining is next.
It’s that urge to try that cake your friend brought over. “It’s just one bite,” you reason. “The breading on these chicken strips isn’t that much gluten, is it? How about if I just eat the toppings off the pizza and leave the crust? I’ve been so good lately, one time cheating on the diet won’t hurt, will it?”
Eventually, you’ll come to realize that one bite is not worth the next two days facing the wraiths screeching within you. It may take some time and you may regress periodically, but it won’t take long for your body to deny you the pleasure of bargaining.
This brings us to depression.
Depression delivers that irrational urge to simply give up on the whole eating thing.
When the people in your life ask what you’d like to eat it spurs a dread deep within you merely at the thought.
“I give up on eating,” you say. “It’s not worth the hassle.”
Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s a weary road you must face. Some days it’s just no fun.
Regardless of what stage in the grieving process you find yourself, try to remember to give yourself some slack. No, you’re not going crazy. Yes, it does stink sometimes. Accepting that it’s a battle you have to fight is halfway towards winning the war. And remember, grief is always the hardest in the first year. This loss is no exception.
Let me reiterate: YOU CAN DO IT!
If you get breathless on a five-minute jog, don’t expect to go out on that craggy path and jog through the miles of rough terrain without difficulty. If you’re used to living on hamburgers and cinnamon rolls (or any variation thereof), throwing yourself into a regimen of salads and all those exotic recipes you find on Pinterest is going to be a tough road.
Take it slowly at first.
This is a huge change for your body. If your taste buds are used to a limited variety, it might take some time for them to broaden their interests. Don’t try to jump into the same lifestyle that you read gluten-free lifers embracing. They had to take a journey to get there. And so will you.
If you’ve never heard of Hoisin sauce or tapenade or shawarma curry chicken, then maybe start with a few milder options. I wouldn’t suggest throwing away everything in your kitchen and replacing it with an armada of new and exotic condiments. Work into your new lifestyle slowly. Not only will an abrupt shift be a shock to your system, but also to your bank account.
Instead, work at trying new ingredients only once a week. If you really like that recipe, then make it a regular. If not, find a new one.
Embrace the adventure
Try to look for the blue sky instead of the rain clouds. Enjoy what you can eat. Try to ignore all the stuff you can’t.
You may find, when you take the journey as a stroll instead of a jog, that the view isn’t all that bad. In fact, you might find yourself enjoying the walk. Look for the beautiful scenery around you. There might not be bread at every meal, but what about the delicious way you had those potatoes prepared last week? Was there a certain seasoning that sang? Did you discover you prefer romaine lettuce over spinach or that almonds make a good crunchy exterior to a thick slice of chicken? Look for a way to enjoy the food around you. Make it fun. Make it creative. The destination is only as good as the journey.
When looking for new recipes, start by looking for a couple custom-fit comfort foods that will make you warm and fuzzy inside every time you throw it in the oven. You need a meal you can always turn to when things look bleak.
And then it’s time to broaden your scope. Try experimenting with different food ethnicities or side dishes that you wouldn’t have considered before. You may discover you have a secret love for hummus and basil. Or that strawberries and goat cheese make a killer salad. You never know what your taste buds will think until you’ve braved the experience.
You look around to notice the fog is beginning to clear and the sun is shining brightly. Suddenly you realize that it’s not as bad as you thought. So you stand up, brush the dirt from your seat, and thank your new friend for her help.
She takes your empty bowl and chip bag and twinkles away.
You take a deep breath and set out to follow the path with a new sense of hope and resolve.
But don’t worry, you’ll see your friend again. Just when you need it most.
I hope this little tale of adventure will help you. What about you? Have you collected some tips and tricks to facing a gluten-free journey? I’d love to hear them in the comments!