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So Hoity Toity with your Special Diet. Allergies? Pshaw.


Dear Misunderstanding friend/family/etc trying to convince me ‘one bite won`t hurt’,

Sure, I like being special. I like ‘special‘ when it`s used as a codeword to mean brilliant, or above average, or just really cool and amazing. Who dislikes that kind of special?

But then there`s the kind of special that is said in a slightly condemning way. Like, “Oh, she thinks she`s so important, she gets special treatment so that she can eat the ‘right’ food.” Rather like I`m some sort of snob. I don`t really get that reaction at all, though. You mean you would rather you had to search for hours on end for a suitable place to eat dinner, with risk of severe injury to your health on the line? You`d rather trade places with me and have to ask for all of these requests that make you feel like a terrible person before someone tries to affirm the fact? You`d like to practically enter a coma because someone wasn`t very cautious with your food?

Look, I get being upset with people that try to make their eating habits your problem. I get how that would be annoying. I may respect the dedication serious dieters have, but I`d be a little upset if they were trying to make me replace my birthday cake with broccoli, just so it wouldn`t tempt them. I get that.

I also get that some people are irritated by vegetarians and vegans. I personally feel that eveyone should make any little efforts they can to make the world a better place, but I will also debate for hours the pros and cons of either supporting small responsible and humane farms, or just choosing not to cast a food ballot either way on how animals are raised. That`s a whole `nother kettle of fish, me lads and lassies. (Like I said, though, I really do respect that they are actually doing something, instead of just making eww comments when some ‘terrible’ soul blasts one of those documentaries in front of their faces.) But it can be really annoying to run into some extemists that brandish dead bodies at you and threaten to feed you to the cows, and see how you like it. Or even just complaining loudly and sharing long dissertations on the evils of any one who eats meat in front of you, or serves it at their own party. One of the best tricks I`ve seen so far for ruining a wedding.

But I`m not like that. I`m not trying to shove my moral views upon you, and I`m not abstaining from such amazing foood you are eating because I have a bit of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude about my virtuous eating, and your, well, you`re eating cake. I`m none of those things.

I`m an innocent victim of an intolerance! I`m not saying that I am eating gluten free because I heard some celebrity did it, or because it gives me a bit of a tummy ache. Or even, perhaps my favorite one, because I want to lose weight. I love how the people that go gluten free to lose pounds then promptly turn to the junky white rice and potato starch products. That is just as refined and processed as wheat, my friends. It`s sort of like those people that go vegan to lose weight, only to have five gallons of pasta every day, and tons of wine and chocolate to boot! That`s just a little absurd, and I hope you don`t think so little of me that you believe I`d do any of that.

No, I don`t break into hives when I eat gluten. First off, only the most extreme allergies do that- most people with food allergies get much less easy to identify symptoms. (Which is a good thing, because it means they have a bit more of a margin of error before they wade into the life threatening region of allergies!)

But an intolerance is not the same as ‘racist people are intolerant of the people of a certain race’. It`s not a choice, not something I control. It is something that happens to me, no matter how hard I try to deny it or shove it away. I tried to continue eating gluten, despite the pain. Believe me, I didn`t let my beloved wheat go without a fight. You think I don`t liking being able to eat whatever I darn well please, all on a whim? No pre-planning and plotting every bite that goes into my mouth? Those were the good old days. I loved the freedom of gluten.

But. Though I could handle the stomach pain, and even the soul searing migraines, I couldn`t handle being a zombie. Think of how much agony you are in for hours after getting a stomach ache, a day or more after triggering a migraine. Terrible stuff. But those are the mild symptoms for me. The worst part is that I shut down on gluten. Oh, sure, I may wake up. Sometimes. Mainly, it gives you all the feelings of depression, plus brain fog so dense you can`t remember your name. A once talkative and cheerful person, you bite off anyone`s head if they say “goodmorning,” to you. You become paranoid, obsessed, it`s almost like you are on pot and opium as well as depression. And then, when you`ve pushed your body too far, even that fades. You stop living, really. It`s like you simply drift, with no consciousness, pain or joy, to change the tedium of your days. A year may go by in one second, and a second can last for years.

The worst part is, that stuff is so addictive. Because it is so damaging to my body, my body views it the same way it views other toxic poisons humans stuff into their system- drugs. I wasn`t exaggerating when I said it affected me like opium and pot all mixed into one. I grew paranoid, angry, and deceitful. I became a compulsive liar and kleptomaniac under its influence. I went a little crazy with its encouragement. It wasn`t pretty.

So you may think it is just one bite. That is like telling an ex-alcoholic it is just one drink. Sure, it is one- it only takes the one for it to grab hold of you again, mesmerized by the siren`s call.

I wouldn`t have said so much to you, friend, if you hadn`t said those same words so often before. “It`s just one bite,” and “It could be our secret,” and even “you are such a kill joy, you are making me feel like a fattie!” I do not mean to make you feel guilty for what you are eating, though the use of ‘fattie’ is pretty obnoxious, considering you (2 pounds overweight) are saying this to me (a lot more). That seems more like you are trying to insult me. And I`m the one who gobbles salad every day, while you gobble chips and cookies. And that lovely cake. Life isn`t always fair, you know? But it would be nice if you could fairly say to me, “I don`t understand it, but I`m willing to accept you have reasons for this whole gluten free kick, and not just a need to be a snooty jerk. I believe you.” And maybe next time, instead of urging me to the cake, you could have a nice little veggie tray near by? I don`t know anyone who is allergic to veggies, or rather, so allergic to any particular one they don`t feel safe eating a different veggie that touched it. I do happen to know some people allergic to tomatoes. I think it was the lycopene they had a problem with, actually.

Anyways, thank you for not trying to make me feel worse than I already do anymore,

Z.

Have you had problems with a person like this? What are you ‘special diet’ tragedies and triumphs?

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12 comments

  1. Well I haven’t had this exact situation because I am, fortunately, able to eat wheat, dairy, etc. However, we (the better half and I) like to eat vegetarian meals quite often. My sister, a dietician, doesn’t get it and makes sure to constantly make jokes about how I need more MEAT. WHERE’S THE MEAT? She emails. “You need complete proteins and not eating meat means you aren’t getting those.” So I counter with “quinoa?”, “rice and beans?” and she just continues to say it’s not the same and blah blah blah. It’s irritating, especially when so many other dieticians and nutritionists seem to think eating vegetarian meals is ok. I wish people would just shut up about what you eat or don’t eat, what I eat or don’t eat, or what some celebrity on tv eats or doesn’t eat. Let’s just all get along and be happy :)

    1. I think good vegetables are always a good choice. It does take careful planning to make sure you balance all of your nutrients, but that is what nutritional yeast and quinoa is for! I personally have considered going vegetarian, before I realized I had to cut gluten and dairy. I get a few jibes on that too, because I often have ‘bird seed’ meals, as I have a strange affinity for seeds. (And I take meat as a rare treat, and have fish far more often.) Maybe she complains because she has the same debate internally?

  2. My husband and I follow a paleo diet, which means we don’t eat wheat(or any grains for that matter), and while my hubby definitely isn’t celiac or anything, we finally realized that wheat was the cause of his IBS. Last year we went on vacation and we ate bread, crackers, pancakes, ect and hubby started having GI issues. Upon returning home and getting back to our normal lifestyle, his issues disappeared. Now, whenever we “break” our diet(ie, eat wheat or grains) the issues return.

    1. Wow, I`m so impressed with your dedication! I`ve thought numerous times I should probably go paleo, or at least completely cut out dairy, but I just can`t handle skipping gouda. It`s really terrible, because I actually was dairy free the first ten years of my life! I guess I just can`t stand to let it go, now that I finally have it. I think the important thing is that you try to eat clean, as that is much better than getting discouraged and just giving up!

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