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Ask Heidi: Cheating on the gluten free diet

 

Marjorie asked:

You have been so forthcoming about being a former gluten cheater and I really appreciate your honesty.  I’m guilty of cheating too, it is so hard to stay on this diet sometimes (even though I feel so much better when I do).  My question is, how did you finally overcome the temptation to cheat?

Oh boy, this question is much more difficult to answer than I thought it would be (hope you have a few minutes).  I wish I could say there was one magic bullet that finally woke me up one day, but the truth is, it was a long and emotionally painful journey for me.

Let me begin by telling you a (not entirely fictional) story:

Imagine that you went to see your doctor one day after a series of tests.  You have been very concerned about the way you feel and have been feeling a multitude of symptoms that make you extremely uncomfortable and are praying for a clear diagnosis that will help you begin to feel better.  As you sit in the exam room waiting for your doctor to arrive, random thoughts about your health begin to swirl through your head.  You begin to think about a close relative who recently died of {insert disease here}.  You start to wonder if the article you read on WebMD about {insert disease here} might be what you have, and that terrifies you.

When you hear the door open, your heart jumps, the adrenaline surges and the tears begin to swell in anticipation of the worst.  Is it bad news? Is it good news?  Am I crazy?  Am I sick?

And then your doctor begins to share the test results with you.  He tells you that you have a specific condition that is treatable, with almost a 100% success rate.  You are relieved and intrigued.  He tells you that many of your symptoms will disappear over time if you follow the treatment regimen, and that many of the complications of your condition that could develop over time can be halted and perhaps reversed if you will simply follow his/her recommendations.  You are told that there is a substantial amount of scientific and clinical evidence to support the success of this particular treatment, and that you shouldn’t worry about your long term health if you will adopt this simple solution.

Talk about dodging a bullet!  You are not crazy, there is something wrong with you, but thank God there is a solution!

You begin the treatment, fully knowing that this is the only way that you can heal and greatly reduce your odds of developing additional serious complications later in life.  You begin to feel better, have more energy, your symptoms subside.  You begin to feel as though you have your life back again!  You feel better than you did 10 years ago…what a miracle!  Your family and friends notice a difference.  Your mood improves and with that so do your relationships and your outlook on life.  You feel optimistic and confident again…everything your doctor told you was true!

And then you decide that you will stop the treatment and voluntarily go back to feeling miserable, irritable, and unhealthy.

Most people would think you had gone absolutely insane, but not certain people in your life…they are in some ways, relieved.  You tell them that they don’t understand how hard the treatment is, that regardless of how you are improving, it is just too much.  And instead of those same people trying to encourage you to get back on your treatment, they tell you it’s okay for you to stop because the treatment was pretty expensive and way too inconvenient.  I mean, after all, they love you and hate to see you struggle.  (The reality is, a celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) diagnosis is not just the patient’s diagnosis, in more ways than one, it is a diagnosis for the entire family.  Everything changes and everyone has to come to terms with it in their own way, which doesn’t exactly hurry up the stages of grief process).

This is the paradox faced by many people when they are first told that gluten is making them very sick.  All of the science is there.  The clinical results are there.  There are numerous studies that support your lifestyle change.  And while no one would begrudge you the hardship of enduring chemotherapy or major surgery or changing your diet because of a heart condition, for some reason people simply cannot wrap their brains around the concept of gluten-free, all the time, no exceptions.  All things in moderation, right?

Moderation…that ugly little word.  Let’s face it, you could probably have a glass of wine every day of your entire life and never develop cirrhosis.  You could probably have a cigar every Saturday at poker night and never develop mouth cancer.  To be honest, you could probably even have a cigarette every day of your life and never develop lung cancer (I know a few smokers who cling to the fact that a substantial minority of life long smokers never develop lung cancer…they cling to it to justify their addiction).  Gravy, fat, sugar…all things in moderation.  Wasn’t this the great wisdom passed on to us by our greatest philosophers?

But here is the thing.  You cannot drink a glass of motor oil every once in a while without doing serious damage to your body.  You cannot eat a bowl of rat poison a couple times of year without causing some very serious problems.  There is no such concept as “a little bit of mercury is okay.”  You WILL do damage to your body, it WILL cascade throughout all of your internal systems, and you WILL die before your time.  Inescapable, unavoidable, absolutely proven fact.

So pop me a quart of Pennzoil, will ya?

This is what gluten does to your body in a roundabout way.  This is what YOU are doing to your body when you cheat.  And we all know what we are doing to our bodies when we eat it, but we eat it (or shall I say, ate it) anyway.  WHY???

That is really the $64,000 question, and it is the very first question you must ask yourself (and answer) if you are still cheating.

Why?  Why?  Why?

Why are you still cheating?  With the multitude of gluten-free options out there, why are you cheating?  With the incredible gluten-free blogosphere, the tips, the support, the recipes…why are you still cheating?  You must answer that question first if you are to have any hope of overcoming.

You ask how I finally stopped cheating and embraced my new lifestyle?

My therapist asked me one not-so-simple question.  “Heidi, what hole are you trying to fill (by continuing to eat gluten)?”

It took me 3 years to figure out and come to terms as to why I was cheating and it was only when I could honestly answer the question of “why” that I finally began to turn a corner.

Being gluten free is not easy, to say the least.  But lots of people are vegan without any problem.  Lots of people give up cigarettes or alcohol every day.  What is it about going gluten-free that is so damn hard?

Answer: it’s everywhere.

And not just at restaurants and potlucks and school cafeterias.  It’s not just in innocent invitations to lunch or grabbing a beer after work.  It’s not just in the business traveler’s trip to a conference at a hotel that might not be accommodating.  No…gluten is not just in your present physical environment.  Gluten is firmly embedded in your soul, your memories, and your connections to the past that you had hoped to connect to your future.

Gluten is the smell of Grandma’s bread, Mom’s pie, and those rolls in a tube that you have every Thanksgiving.  Gluten is the tradition of hot dogs at a ball game, funnel cakes at the state fair, pizza and a beer for the Super Bowl.  Gluten is not just a highly addictive grain that civilization has cultivated and consumed for thousands of years; it is not “just one” of many foods.  It’s not about the food, never has been, and never will be.  There are plenty of other foods to eat, that’s not the point.

Gluten is part of your soul, and every time you smell fried chicken or baked bread, every time you find yourself at an event with gluten as an ingredient in a traditional meal, every time you have to decline an invitation or move heaven and earth to participate, you are giving up part of your soul.  You are reminded that not only is the current world not designed for you, but that so much of your fondly remembered past was not designed for you either.  And then you become overwhelmed considering a future as an alien, a stranger in the world without anchor or reprieve…

…and so you cheat.

You cheat because you desperately want it not to be so.

You cheat because you lack a blatantly clear diagnosis from an MD.

You cheat because gluten doesn’t make you feel sick to your stomach (in fact, you actually crave it).

You cheat because you are angry that you have been diagnosed with yet another bizarre health condition.

You cheat because on some convoluted level, you loathe the body that can’t seem to keep up with your heart, mind and soul, so you unconsciously punish it.

You cheat because as a mother/daughter/wife you have been subtly trained not to be an inconvenience, to endure and persevere, to solve the problem quietly and at great sacrifice for the benefit of others.

You cheat because gluten-filled food is the only connection you have ever had with your mother and to lose gluten would mean losing the chance of a relationship that you have been fighting for your entire life.

And the most basic truth that you must acknowledge in all of this is that you do not cheat because the basic sustaining function of food is inconvenient…there is plenty to eat.  You will never want for calories or sustenance.  It’s not the “how”…it’s the “why.”

You understand why others “don’t understand,” even though in a secret place you yearn for them to finally “get it.”  Your heart becomes heavy when you have to watch your loved ones continue on in family traditions without you by their side.  You begin to feel as though your mother has chosen food over you.  You start to confuse genuine looks of sympathy and concern from other people as subtle hints that there is something wrong with you, that “how dare you burden your family with this disease”…as though you had any control over it.  And you want it all to PLEASE JUST GO AWAY!

But it won’t go away, ever.  Never ever.

If the past is a large enough problem to overcome, contemplating your future in light of your PRESENT is unthinkable.  Because then you start to dwell on (even if subconsciously) what your are giving up in exchange for your health.

How many times will you have to decline invitations to lunch before people stop asking you?  How many phone calls will you have to make to other mothers to make arrangements for your child to bring their own food to a birthday party before you stop being invited?  How much guilt will you be able to bear for the sake of OTHER PEOPLE’S expectations?  Will you be able to survive in the dark corner of despair, because I know that is where you have gone or are afraid to go.  I’ve been there and it is ugly.  Very, very ugly.  You feel alone, cold, shunned by those closest to you, and very afraid.  That is the key word: afraid.  You are afraid of letting someone down.  You are afraid of being alone.  You are afraid that this will all drive you completely insane (and I do not use that word lightly).  Your fear is what controls you, contains you, and silences your inner voice.

To overcome this powerful force is to literally have to reinvent yourself, a daunting task at any age.  But it is possible, I am living proof of that.  The power is with you, and while I know you don’t believe that at this particular moment, it is the truth.  You cannot expect other people to alter their expectations of you until you alter your expectations of them.  You must LEARN THE POWER OF NO!  If you continue to cheat, they will continue to expect you to.  If you decline time and again to “go along to get along,” then you will find the people who truly want to understand and adapt and those who are unwilling to bend.  And if you really think about it, if those people who are unwilling to bend to your scientifically irrefutable dietary needs can’t be a little understanding, where will they be when something “really important” comes down the line?  They will never “turn the corner” with you…and it’s not about the diet or the gluten…they would have vanished at the first sign or trouble, regardless of what it was.

You have to understand, in your heart and mind and soul, that NO ONE else is going to turn the corner for you until you turn the corner for yourself.  And it never has been or ever will be about the food itself.  All food is just proteins and amino acids and blah blah blah…it’s not about the food!  You are your own best advocate, and you are not doing yourself any favors by cheating.  You are perpetuating your own failure, and are teaching others to expect this failure of you.

Stop failing, start succeeding…begin tomorrow by saying NO!

(And yes, it was the best decision I ever made). :-D

 

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Comments

  1. rebecca.k says:

    Thank you so much for writing this post. It is exactly what I needed to hear to help me get "back on the wagon". :)

  2. Hmmm. I suppose you knew when you wrote this it could apply to more than gluten.

    And very well articulated. I believe it was Oswald Chambers who said the writers who mean the most to us aren't the ones who say something we've never thought of, but the ones who put into words what we've needed most to understand.

    Words impose order on reality, and I *really* appreciate how this helped me to organize my thoughts.

    Brava.

    • Thank you Amy.

      Hugs,

      Heidi

    • Paige says:

      Wow, Amy, that is exactly what I wanted to say in response to Heidi's article. Thanks. Heidi, you put into words all of my feelings. I just bawled when I got to the part about wanting to be the good mother/daughter/wife. I think that's what hurts the most is my feeling like I'm imposing on others. Food is such a comfort and ritual thing that I feel like I'm screwing up the sacred sometimes.

      Thanks again for your eloquent thoughts. Paige

  3. Alta says:

    Wow, Heidi. This was positively moving. Thank you so much for putting all of these thoughts and feelings out there – so many of us share them but it's sometimes hard to express. While I wasn't a gluten cheater, I certainly didn't take precautions to ensure safety with my diet for a long while, due to many reasons you shared. But you are correct – we need to say no and ask for what we need, or others won't expect anything but our continued lack of respect for our own health. And there will be those that stand with us and those that won't. But it is the best thing I have ever done. Thank you!

  4. Michelle Olejar says:

    You are right. It isn't all about the food. For me, it's about taking a night off cooking, having a nice dinner with my husband out (and if I get sick with a crumb I might as well eat what I want), it is the connivence, it is denial as I have no positive diagnosis, and I CRAVE it. One little crumb will unravel months of dedication. I happen to have a ton of good recipes (thanks to my blogging friends) and my children do not miss it. I however do! I miss a good pizza and a McDonald's hamburger and fries. Those two things I haven't been able to replicate and those two items it is about the food. I am closer to being an non-cheater than to a cheater but it is a process. I am a mother and a wife. When I food shop I buy everything for everyone else and rarely buy something specifically for myself. When I do, I feel guilty. It shouldn't be that way. It's a process, one day at a time kind of thing. "Hello my name is Michelle and I have a problem with gluten".

    • Michelle,

      Thank you for sharing your story, it is so helpful to know that one is not alone in the struggles they face. Cravings are very difficult to overcome and it honestly took me getting really sick with serious immune complications before I was scared straight. While I no longer crave gluten (heck, I can't even remember what it tastes like anymore, I haven't intentionally cheated in over 3 years now), I am currently facing that challenge with cheese (not all dairy, just cheese), which is yet another highly addictive food (I never eat it at home because I would never have it around my kids, but when I go out to dinner, I do cave on occasion).

      My difficulties are also the main reason why I also decided change my kids' diet while they were still so young. This is the only food they will ever know, it is completely "normal" to them and they are very happy kids. As I was writing this post, I realized that Luke (my 4 year old) has NEVER had a "real" McDonald's Happy Meal – IN HIS LIFE!! That still sounds so foreign to me. I made fried chicken for lunch yesterday and it was the first time I had made it in a couple of years, so it's not in Luke's collective memory (I hate the mess involved with frying). I placed a drumstick on his plate and he said, "Mommy, where's my chicken?" "It's right there on your plate honey, it's crunchy chicken!" After staring at it for a while, he peeled off all the coating and just ate the meat. Afterwards, he said, "Mommy, can you just make real chicken next time?" ROFL!

      Where do we women develop our guilt complexes? ;-)

      Hugs,

      Heidi

    • MsMissy says:

      Michelle, this is me too. I love to cook from scratch, so its not about the food. Its about the occasional day off, the "date" nights that where so rare before that are now nonexistent. Its about the baking cookies with your kids, and the celebrations i feel like im no longer a part of. The not being able to have cake at my graduation, the guilt i have to spend so much extra money that we do not have to the of accommodation my own dietary needs (in addition to avoiding gluten im also allergic to soy and nightshades…this makes "safe" food harder to find and more expensive.) I haven't cheated to my knowledge in the past 9 months (although i have had suspicious feeling that a "gluten free" food wasn't.) A year ago when i was first diagnosed I didnt know Oats usually had gluten…i was just avoiding wheat, barley , and rye…opps! But I have often felt like im no longer a part of the family as I am the only one who knows how to cook and the only one who is gluten free , ive shed many tears alone, and often find myself miserable even while i get raves from my family over how good dinner is…because i cant eat it too, i cant share even so much as a bite.

  5. Wendy says:

    Thank you for this post! I have been a cheater for many years also and frustrated with myself for not being able to overcome this. I do understand the vicious cycle I am putting my body through. I appreciate your honesty and am thankful I found your website. I am planning on printing out this post and keep it with me for support. Thank you!!

  6. Christine says:

    I stopped cheating but I still ask to smell my kids breath when they eat warm Italian bread dipped in oil. X-D

  7. Franchesca says:

    Thank you for writing this, Heidi! Now that I'm off gluten even an accidental crumb makes me SO sick, so I have no desire to cheat. But I have been deeply affected by the fear that goes with this diagnosis (and the dairy and soy intolerances to boot!). I have a conference next week and it is all I can think about. Will there be food I can eat? Will I be able to bring enough to sustain myself if there isn't? Can I trust them when they assure me a meal is "safe" for me? Or will I end up in so much pain I can't move by the time I get home? I also find myself missing the simplicity of gluten-filled and processed foods. I KNOW what I'm eating now is healthier, but….I can't help it! It has certainly affected my entire family. We are already plotting Thanksgiving and how we will provide traditional, yet gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free fare. It's so much more than a medical diagnosis. Thank you!

    • ZombieBread says:

      Thanks for the article, Heidi. Franchesca, I feel the same way about gluten that you do – it makes me so sick that it’s just plain old negative reinforcement juju. I cheat, I pay for it for 3 days. No butts about it! And so I never cheat, and I’m only 18 months into gluten free land.

  8. Holy sh**, Heidi – are you inside my head? I've followed your blog since I diagnosed in April and always loved your scientific and honest approach to things, but this post…this post is raw in its stripped down, no sugar coating, painful expression of the difficult-ness that is gluten-less living that simply nails it. I have felt, still often feel everything you've said and I don't cheat! Thank you for putting this out there for all of us.

  9. Stacey Clark says:

    Thank you Heidi! I am not a cheater but I am tempted at times and it is comforting (but with a shared sadness) to know that others understand what it feels like to be shunned by family and friends who do not believe and/or understand my daughters' and my diagnosis (whether an MD has verified it or not). This can be a hard road and sometimes a lonely one. When I am tempted to cheat it is out of anger and denial that my daughters and I have this problem. It is a pity party for myself and my girls but then I focus on all of the wonderful things we are able to eat and do and how thankful I am that I never got as horribly sick as my sister who nearly died in her 20's or my grandmother who actually died at 28 from the results of undiagnosed/untreated Celiac disease. We have so much to be thankful for and many unseen friends, like yourself, who help lead us down our somtimes seemingly lonely paths. As time goes on the loneliness and doubt come visiting less and less. My thoughts lean more towards thankfulness for distant celiac friends and for the increasing knowledge of a long underdiagnosed disease that has hurt so many who never even had the privelege and choice to make their own bodies healthy again. Keep up the good fight Heidi…you do more good than you will probably ever know.

  10. Shelly says:

    This is perfect! Powerful! Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel. Though I have not cheated on purpose since the first six months of going GF, it is exactly what I went through. And the rest, the it's not about the food, it never was, my emotions, struggles poured out right there on the screen. I know it all too well. Thanks for putting yourself out there, Heidi, you have been such an inspiration to me on my GF journey!

  11. Stephanie says:

    Hi Heidi!

    Thank you for putting this in front of me, as a different perspective to help me understand what gluten does to the body of those unfortunate and unable to tolerate! This is my first year anniversary on December 19th, of finding out I too need to be gluten free. Finding out at age of 21, after years of painful stomach aches and no answers to ct scans or blood tests (doctors unaware to test for gluten intolerance), just before Christmas even, where all the homemade cookies and pies, oh sounds so good yet so horrible! Its been a tough tough year, and I am guilty of cheating! Being the only one in my family's household that has this intolerance, it is so hard. Hard for myself, yet hard for my family also. Changing my diet and they keeping to their old habits is rough. My family is very picky eaters and I am open to trying new things, which in a sense is good for this! Once I get out on my own, I am hoping that not cheating will get easier!

    Seeing that its not just myself in this, there are a lot of others whom share the same allergy, makes me feel that I am not alone any more, then also makes me want to ask them if I can just come live there! But with the support of others and wisdom that I can recieve and give to, I am not going to cheat, (I'm sure we all have said it, easier said than done) but I am one that has to keep telling myself every day, and slap my own hand.

    Does anyone else have a family that you are the only one with the allergy and the rest of your household family eat all the gluten they can consume? If so, how tough is it for you, and what types of meals does your family have that you can enjoy with them?

    I am sure I will have tons more questions later, but for now, thank you for helping me and for the support of knowing I am not alone! Will send my support to all!!!

    Thank you,

    Stephanie

    • I certainly understand about being the only gluten-free person in a household of glutenators. When I was first diagnosed 6 years ago, I went on this journey alone. It was tough, having the foods I loved so much so close to me but not being able to eat them. Being paranoid over rogue crumbs flying everywhere. That has got to be the most difficult part of the adjustment process and I am blessed beyond words for my husband, who voluntarily gave up gluten when our oldest son was diagnosed. He did not want our son to feel "different" in his own home (our youngest was 1 at the time, so we also worried about Sam eating Luke's dropped Goldfish crackers, Cheerios, etc.). Having an entirely gluten-free home is not just safer for Sam and I, but it's been good for us emotionally, we are all "normal" when we're at home (we're normal when we go out too, but there is something very comforting about sharing the table with someone…being able to eat off their plate!).

      My non-gluten free dad gave me a great piece of advice a few years ago, he said, "Heidi, instead of focusing so much on trying to replicate gluten containing foods – because no matter how much YOU think the copycats taste like the "real thing," those of us who still eat gluten, really don't agree – why don't you focus on recipes that are NATURALLY gluten free instead?" He hit the nail on the head! Now, when I have gluten folks over for dinner, I make foods that never contained gluten to begin with: steak, chicken, ribs, salmon, crab legs, shrimp, fresh vegetables with herbs, salads, fruit, etc., etc.

      Not only did I remove the stress from myself of trying to make people like my gluten-free bread and so on, but the food was so much healthier (I've actually lost 80 lbs. since going naturally gluten-free – and without exercising mind you!) and everyone loved it because the food I began to make was food they would also make at home or order at a restaurant.

      My dad also came up with a great alternative for naturally gluten-free burgers when we all get together for family BBQs: Taco Burgers, they're a hit with everyone who tries them (figures that I have since been diagnosed with a corn allergy, LOL!). BBQ ribs, potato salad, cole slaw, corn-on-the-cob…all naturally gluten-free (at least if you make it yourself it is). Last year, for Christmas, I scrapped our traditional Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls and pumpkin pie for prime rib, mashed potatoes, green beans and homemade cranberry sauce – not a peep was uttered during that meal, everyone was too busy ooohing and aaahing over the food (and the glutenators didn't miss their gluten rolls from a tube one bit, especially when they ALL NOTICED they didn't feel bloated and tired after the meal!). :-D

      If you've not yet read any of my weekly menu plans that I usually post on Mondays (I skipped this week because I'm going out of town tomorrow for the week), I always link to recipes I find that are naturally gluten-free (no cattywhompus or time consuming substitutions) and look delicious for everyone in the family, gluten-free or not.

      Hugs,
      Heidi

  12. Ashley says:

    Great post!! It's definitely not easy. I am not celiac, but do have crohn's and manage it primarily through being gluten free and vegan. I am not on medication as a result and feel great. People often ask me if I cheat to which I reply no. For me it's about feeling good vs. feeling bad. I was in pain for 18 months before being diagnosed with Crohn's and was really sick at certain points.

    I never want to go back to that.

    Even when my Crohn's acts up a little (due to stress or something that should have been safe that I ate but wasn't) I reflect on how horrible it was to be so sick and have vowed to do whatever I can to keep myself healthy. For me, that means maintaining my lifestyle. It is hard sometimes? Sure! Gluten and dairy and animal products are EVERYWHERE but I've managed to do it this long, so I think I've figured it out and feel great.

    thanks for the reminder and inspiration!

  13. gina says:

    What a powerful post…and it rings so true. I have gluten sensitivities, a 4-year-old with a gluten allergy, and a 1-year old with a suspected gluten allergy. I am sticking with the gluten-free diet because I am continuing to breastfeed my baby, but I dream of pizza and Italian bread (sometimes literally) even though I know it makes me sneezy and itchy! I need to remember to re-read this post when I am done breastfeeding and am only responsible for my own body when it comes to eating gluten!

  14. Amy says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!! Sometimes I need a swift kick in the pants to jolt me back into reality! I want to find out the "why"…. I can't say it enough thank you for sharing your heart! It was so easy to change my daughter's diet. Why can't I change mine? I guess I have secretly hoped that when all was said and done this wouldn't be forever. That in some simple way we could heal our guts and eat the way we used to. It's not possible. I've been studying on the stages of grief and I never thought about it being applied to this. I was thinking of it more in terms of dealing with a diagnosis of your child's special needs. Wow, how much it applies here and I never even thought about the connection.

    Keep it coming Heidi! I need to hear this!!! You are doing a great work with your website!!!

    HUGS!!!

  15. Laurel says:

    Thanks for opening up so heart warmingly Heidi. I've been there and back again at some time it was because I didn't have enough information and didn't understand what I was doing to myself. At other times it was to fit in as all my so called 'friends' drifted away because not indulging threatened them in some way. As you say, they would have drifted off at the first bend in the road anyway. I think the toughest thing for me is still my family. For years I exposed myself to gluten by baking for them, not realizing the harm I was doing myself. Thank you for enlightening me on that issue.

    I won't be going back to gluten, or soy, or dairy, or corn knowingly. I still however, carry the pain of family members who believe this is all some kind of head game, that I'm just being lazy, or wanting special attention. I deal with that, if painfully. My real question is how to deal with people who come into my home and judge me, loudly, and with complete conviction that I am wrong to follow my only path to health. I swear if I have to hear one more story or piece of advice on how I should just put it behind me and quit lollygagging around … Well, that doesn't help does it? Giving people diagnoses and medical references doesn't help either. They've made up their minds, they were born right and whenever I try to educate them I'm the one being difficult. I can't win. There is no winning with these people. But because of you, Heidi, and others like you I'm now part of a community. I now have validation. I am also NOT an inmate of an insane asylum and believe me when I say that may have been an option. The one thing I believe I'll never understand is why, in such a diverse culture, your need for different food makes you either a pariah or crazy? Must be my own type A personality trying to fix everything. I'll end with a sign I saw recently. "Holding onto pain and grudges is allowing people to live in your brain rent free." I'm working on that one. :-) xoxox

  16. Andrea Garner says:

    Wow, Heidi–you hit the nail on the head! Thank you for your insight and for sharing your experience with all of us who struggle. I don't cheat, but sometimes I wish I could just be "normal." With the holidays coming up, I am already missing the foods I have memories tied to. Your post helped me put things in perspective. Thanks!

  17. SherriS. says:

    Thank you for writing this! I am wheat allergic and suspected wheat was the culprit of my many health problems for years before my body wouldn't tolerate it anymore. Even though their is so much gluten free products or recipes that have come out since I was diagnosed, I still want to cheat occassionally because those products are close but not the same.

    Again, thanks so much for expressing how I feel.

  18. LisaB says:

    Heidi, this is beautiful. It's not just about sticking to a gluten-free diet- it's really about how hard it is to make any significant lifestyle change- whether it's diet, or exercise, or just saying "no" to another helping of mom's apple pie. In the end it's about choosing self-care. I was just talking with my trainer this morning about how I was having a hard time sticking with my own workout program, given everything I have to do while I am coaching high school cross country. But the problem isn't really having too much to do or not having enough hours in the day… my problem is that I *still* struggle with putting others needs ahead of my own. Diet and exercise is just a delightful theater for this dilemma to play out. It's not about the food, or the workout…. it's about learning to put myself higher on the list.

  19. Diana_in_CA says:

    Thanks for posting this. Very well written. I was diagnosed NCGS about a year and a half ago. Haven't cheated since last November when we were on vacation in Mexico however I have accidentally eaten gluten when I didn't ask enough questions at restaurants. My nutritionist, who is also NCGS, told me a crumb on gluten can cause 4 months of inflammation. For me, that's 4 months of looking like I'm pregnant and not absorbing nutrients from my food. No way I'm purposefully cheating again.

  20. Geanna says:

    This is such a great post – thanks for being so honest and for being an inspiration.

  21. Jen says:

    I guess I should consider myself so very fortunate to have a very supportive group of friends and family around me, making it SO much easier to not be tempted to cheat. I have, however, only been gluten free for just over a month, but still find I don't really crave it all that much. And given that I feel a bit like Benjamin Button (feel like I've reverse aged about 10 years!), I really have no desire to go back to eating gluten. I'm actually already stressing about HAVING to eat it again to challenge it in my diet. :( All of this considering I'm around EXCESSIVE amounts of gluten foods daily as a waitress at Olive Garden…lol I'm so very blessed that my husband is more obsessive about keeping me GF than I am! When we go out, he gets VERY insistant with restaurant staff to make sure I stay safe.

  22. Michelle W. says:

    I think giving up gluten means giving up "normal" – anything and everything you do will now be dictated by that seemingly innocuous little word! We're not just giving up gluten, we're giving up everything that we've ever known – grabbing burgers while rushing through errands now becomes sifting through a menu and asking for an ingredients list before ordering. Pizza and movie night suddenly becomes a military operation instead of the phone call in PJ's that it once was! I react so severely to gluten I've never been able to cheat, but trust me, I would if I could!! It took about 2 years for me to finally let go of the idea that I could replicate my old life, and have now finally accepted my new life. I don't crave burgers like I used to, I do happy dances over burger buns though! I found ways to adjust, cope, and move on. So, like with any loss or bereavement, we have to take time to go through all the stages, but there is hope on the other side, and a healthier, happier me is worth the grief! Thanks for putting what I was feeling into words, Heidi ;o)

  23. Heather Clayberg Kel says:

    As a woman raised in a "Friday Night Pizza Night" family, having my husband be diagnosed with Celiac at age 31 was a struggle for both of us. I have tried really hard to educate myself and be supportive and involved in the gluten free community. It is sometimes VERY hard. He has never (to my knowledge) willingly cheated, however. He experiences such ill effects to gluten, including but not limited to severe intestinal distress for days on end. Even with his strict GF diet, he often feels not 100%. I can see it in his eyes, they look tired and blood shot and he's much thinner than he used to be. I feel like sometimes he doesn't eat enough b/c we have busy lives and schedules and he doesn't want to be inconvenienced or inconvenience others. Can anyone relate to this? He does see a nutritionist – but I want him to see a dietician. I'd love to hear your thoughts/suggestions!

  24. Phenomonal post, really incredible. Thank you so much for your honesty. Thank thank you! I'm going to share this. I love this part: You begin to feel as though your mother has chosen food over you. You start to confuse genuine looks of sympathy and concern from other people as subtle hints that there is something wrong with you, that “how dare you burden your family with this disease”…as though you had any control over it. — that's my grandmother. Thank you again.

  25. Sarah says:

    THANK YOU for this post!!! I needed this as well. It's so much easier to just eat the gluten when it's there than to pass on the bun and just eat the hamburger patty. Or to eat the fried whatever. Or the casserole even though it has cream of stuff soup in it. Or to BUY the cream of stuff soup with gluten in it just because it's cheaper and "a little of it in a casserole won't kill me." No, but it WILL make me sick! Convenience. That's why I cheat. Because it's easier to cheat than to ask for a GF menu at the restaurant. Easier to cheat than to shop all over town for that one GF item I need for dinner (I don't have many choices in my town right now, though I do have a grocery who will order for me.) Easier to cheat than to skip pizza and cake at a Chuck E Cheese birthday party or bring our own food. Easier to cheat than to bring my own entire Thanksgiving dinner with me so I don't have to be tempted (HA!) to eat the regular stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, etc. It's so HARD to just eat what I know I can!!! The kicker for me was hearing that the health risks for gluten sensitive people are SO much higher if you continue to cheat…risks for autoimmune diseases and cancer skyrocket when you keep getting the gluten. I have two young children and the thought of developing a life threatening disease all because I wanted my damn pasta just terrifies me. Nothing is worth upping my risks of dying from something like cancer. Even pasta.

  26. Melodie says:

    I love this! Very eye opening for me, thank you for sharing/posting :) I can stay away from gluten… because it makes me deathly ill.. but I also am not supposed to eat dairy and have recently found that I feel so much better eating NO grain whatsoever…. that is where I fail. And I pay for it, dearly. Yesterday I had decided that I was going grain free and sticking with it this time ;) Well, we have had a crazy few weeks at work and I had a rep deliver me a box of gluten free cookies (grain) and another that baked me gluten free brownies (grain)! Of course I ate some and this morning I feel bloated and sluggish…. it is never ending! At some point I guess I will feel bad enough to actually eat what my body NEEDS and not just what it CRAVES!!

  27. Cristina says:

    Thank you, Heidi, for putting my feelings into words, for writing something that I can share with my family and my husband, all of whom have been 'supportive' of me, but as you say have not really "gotten it" yet. Thank you for showing me that it is okay that they probably never will, that it doesn't matter because I do get it, I do know what poison gluten is to my system as a Celiac. This post has brought me so much encouragement, reminded me that I am not in this fight alone, and put all of my frustrations and feelings and anger into an organized, sensible piece that speaks to my soul and brings me a much needed sigh of relief. I have felt lately like a crazy person for refusing to go to a dinner party with my husband where pasta was being served as the main course, with friends who know that I cannot eat pasta, people who would not have been offended had I brought my own gluten-free entree or who would have probably been eager to prepare something different for me, but I refused because I don't like to be 'that' person. The one who an exception always has to be made for, the one who is inconvenient to have over for dinner, the one who TURNS DOWN invitations — as you know, all of these mixed emotions and feelings are hard to express to someone who just doesn't 'get it', my husband thought it was no big deal just to bring something that I could eat, to me it was almost humiliating, if that makes sense, I just did not go and he was frustrated because he was looking forward to the gathering and to the pasta — one thing that makes it harder for him to understand my situation is that he is in love with gluten and told me up front that he will likely never give it up. Anyway, Heidi, thank you again for sharing this. I am not one to cheat, I only have once in the four years or so since being diagnosed and never repeated the offense, but I, too, am faced with temptations everyday, it's good to know that there are so many of us fighting this fight and succeeding on our journeys toward better health!

  28. Paula says:

    Amazing Heidi.. you really hit a nerve with so many of us.. My reaction to gluten , dairy, soy is so severe that I don't cheat.. ever! but I do go through all the things you mentioned.. feeling alone and isolated, fear of being judged, fear of lookign like a freak.. grieving over the social loss.. it's all there..now that 2 of our children also have to live gluten free in a house of 6 other people that are not GF is hard to say the least.

    thank you so much for your blog ..it has helped me so much!

  29. Heidi, you are amazing. Thank you so much for writing this. As you know, I'm a cheater. I get better with time, but it's still an issue for me. This really opened my eyes in a completely different way. The analogy to motor oil really hit the nail on the head!! THANK YOU! <3

  30. Carol D. says:

    This moved me to tears. I have never cheated in the year and a half since my diagnosis, but I have been beating myself up for a long time about why I can't just "get over it and move on." Although I recognized that I had to grieve (first for the gluten, then for the dairy, now possibly for corn…), I feel impatience with myself and the way I respond in the many situations you mentioned. I'm frustrated and sometimes teary when I go out and discover that there's not much on the menu I can eat. I feel awkward when we're (rarely now) invited somewhere for dinner and I have to ask not only what we're having, but how it's prepared. I feel pressured when my kids invite someone over for dinner, because I'm convinced that they won't even want to try the "healthy" stuff my kids have become used to.

    I never really thought about it before until you articulated it: "It’s not about the food, never has been, and never will be. There are plenty of other foods to eat, that’s not the point." So thank you for helping me begin to see that I'm not so strange or as emotionally immature as I thought I was. It's just a bigger context and a longer process than I anticipated.

  31. jennibell says:

    Wow, thank you for this. I think I may be your first gluten commenter. Many, many years ago, before celiac became well-known, my husband self-diagnosed and treated himself. Then he was curious if he was correct about the diagnosis but it was too late to check — he had been gluten-free for long enough that the tests were inconclusive. That's o.k. Blogs weren't around, we lived in a fairly large city but still had to mail-order many flours, cereals and such. . .educating others and cooking were challenging, to say the least. This post made me understand why it's so important NOT to cheat. I committed our family to meals that were gluten-free because we are a family and share one another's burdens but I will admit to being very happy when he was out of town and we could just order a pizza. I still don't much like his gluten-free food and we have gotten much more brazen about having bread and "regular" pasta in the house (always making sure there is a substitute at the table for him). . .but. . .as you mentioned, there are so many alternatives to gluten why don't I just embrace that and support him more? I think I will. Maybe, like some other commenters, he doesn't want to "burden" us so he doesn't say anything. . .I don't know. Thank you, though, and I hope that others share this link with their gluten-eating loved ones and tell them how important it is to them that they read it through. If your family/friends *really* love you they will take the time and indulge you and hopefully, hopefully, may gain a new perspective on your disease and how to better love and support you.

  32. Erin says:

    I love how you stated that, in reality, it's a diagnosis for the whole FAMILY. I have a gluten problem and my 1-year-old daughter is allergic to wheat, dairy, and eggs…which means that my husband's life has drastically changed! And it's not fair :) But it's what we do to keep our family healthy…the same way we would if our health problems could be treated with medicines instead of simple food avoidance.

  33. Karla says:

    I'm not gluten-intolerant, but as a family we have been striving to give up processed foods. I don't feel it as drastically as you do, but I was just telling my mother how some people just don't get it. They take advantage of opportunities to make fun of the fact that we just aren't eating certain things and don't want our children to have it. They jest about the fact that they gave a certain kind of food to my kids while in their care when they know full well I don't want them eating it. A family member just waved off just one of my many decisions not to use white flour, basically saying – "What's the point? You're gonna go when it's your time."

    I haven't gotten to the point of requesting everything to be made to our specifications; I always feel guilty bringing things up and pointing them out. And if someone eats a healthy version of something I've made, I'm always waiting for the inevitable comments on how it's just not the same. Even if you don't have a medical condition, there are plenty of foods that should never be ingested.

    Thanks for the perspective. I'm coming off a few weeks of "making exceptions" for special occasions and feeling badly about my decisions. It's so much easier to move on and get back on track when you have the right mindset.

  34. Andrea says:

    Oh Heidi, you could have been writing right from my head. I most recently cheated because I could get away with it and no one would know but me.

    I turned 50 two months ago, and my doctor wanted me to have my colonoscopy pretty much right away because of my CD. Two days before the test I had to limit myself to clear liquids, so the day before that, I had a burger and fries from McD's and an oreo. I knew that they might give me the runs, but I also knew that the prep for the colonoscopy would do that anyway on the way to completely cleaning me out. It had been three and a half years since I'd had fast food (not so long for the oreo but we won't get into that!) and I really thought I wanted a greasy, salty, fast food burger. I won't lie, it was sublime and the fries were as good as I remembered. But, I realized that it was just silly. Why would I do that to myself? Especially knowing that there are so many other things wrong with that food in addition to the gluten!

    I will probably always struggle with it – much like an alcoholic that can't take even the sip. The best concept I have come up with is that for me, gluten is poison, and it won't change. I tell people that, and they start to get it. I imagine the slow poisoning that people get from environmental hazards and tell myself that they can't avoid those things, but I can. Sometimes that works for me, and sometimes I just get PO'd that I can't have what I want. Then, I whine a bit, feel sorry for myself a bit, then go to the good grocery store and get myself a real treat. Something naturally gluten free and tasty! Fresh pineapple is my personal favorite when I can get it, and I remember that truly good stuff takes effort and a bit of time. So, fast food – not good stuff!

    Sorry for the rambling, but your answer about cheating really put into words a lot of what I feel!

  35. Cinnamon says:

    You wrote it all so well. Why? That's the question I have asked myself all too many times. I am extra hard on myself as I'm nursing my 8 month old who is very cranky, wakeful and fussy when I eat any gluten or dairy. Yet I still do it at times. Talk about guilt :-/

    I do much better than before. I have found foods that are better to eat. I can even bake and cook glurten/dairy free but somedays it's such a chore. That's when I want that big piece of homemade pizza or that yummy homemade roll :-0

    It's a process and I'm learning. I'm healing thankfully and eating better day by day.

    Thank you for your encouragement.

    ~Cinnamon

  36. Shari says:

    This is a fabulous piece of writing! Your blog has helped me so much, but I think this is the most profound information that you have shared. Thank you so much!

  37. Lolli S says:

    I haven't ever cheated on my diet since going gluten free for Celiac almost 2 years ago ( will be two years on Thanksgiving). It was really hard at first, but after getting glutened accidentally through cross contamination at a restaurant & suffering the effects, I knew it was serious. My sensitivity is so bad to gluten and dairy food that I cannot even touch it. I get a huge rash that takes months to go away & if I eat it I would suffer major intestinal consequences…and get the rash, and at one point before going gluten free, my hair actually started to fall out. I went gluten free & the rashes, intestinal issues went away & my hair grew back! It's not worth it to cheat…..but it's worth it to be gluten free- for me.

  38. Lee Barrilleaux says:

    Heidi, thanks so much for this post. I'm forwarding this to my family. I have not cheated in the 8 months since I started eating gluten free. That's not to say that I haven't been accidentally glutened. I'm 48 and once I learned what was causing my numerous symptoms for the past 16 years, I decided that I would adhere to the diet. Now, if I could get my family to understand that this isn't a fad that I'm following. As I've told my sister and mother, why would I deny myself roast beef poboys and muffelettas to be trendy? (I live in New Orleans). I haven't had an official diagnoses due to the fact that my husband was unemployed for most of last year, and we had no insurance.
    My daughter just made an appointment to find out if she is gluten intolerant or has CD. She's noticed that when she eats at home, which of course is gf she's fine, but after eating out with friends or at work she becomes ill. I hope for her sake that it's not gluten, but I also realize that she's very likely to have the same issues that I do.
    I'm looking forward to making your cornbread dressing recipe for Thanksgiving. My family is from Georgia and we grew up eating Moms dressing every year. It wouldn't be TG without it.

  39. Priscilla says:

    Is it okay that this made me cry? I ate at Cici's last night because like so many times before I feel like a pathetic inconvenience to my family. I am struggling so hard right now to 'want' to be gluten free no matter how much it's hurting me when I cheat. Very inspirational and it his the feelings straight on the nail!

  40. Stacie says:

    I am gluten intolerant, and don't get violently ill when eating something with gluten in it, but I do feel all the symptoms I used to get, which is totally uncomfortable. And, depending on what it is I ate or how much, it varies how long being uncomfortable lasts. Everytime I come across a food that I LOVE, I have to ask myself if it's worth it to be uncomfortable for up to days at a time, and remember what it felt like the last time I "cheated". After all that, it is usually not worth it. It's been a long time since I've cheated. :-)

  41. Kara says:

    This was an awesome post. I have NEVER been tempted to cheat. The four days that follow my getting "poisoned" are too "eventful" and cumbersome, too painful and maddening to even think about cheating. I have gotten sick accidentally through cross contamination a dozen times or so and it is all the motivation I need. I love what you said about the gluten free world of blogging and I agree. I feel the more of us that are out there the more attention t brings to Celiac Disease and the more our product choices will grow and hopefully even decrease in price, ) i.e. $3.00 for a box of pasta over $.99. Thanks for the information and your passion to educate others with Celiac. Have a great night!

  42. MamaLlaura says:

    Thanks for this post…I have been gluten-free for just under a year, & just took my 5 year old off gluten this week. I will say this year has been hard, but I cheated once a month for the first 4 months before I realized it wasn't worth it at all. Maybe some people have physical reactions that they see as "worth it" for the taste of their favorite food…my reaction is some digestive, but mostly emotional. The controlling anger that grips me for a few days after I ingest gluten is enough for me to never, ever eat it again. It reminds me of who I once was–that angry & controlling all the time–and I never, EVER want to be her again. I resolved that if I knowingly choose to eat gluten, then I'm literally being unfaithful to my family. Literally cheating on them with gluten. My husband deserves the gluten-free, kind wife. My children deserve the gluten-free, gentle mother. Not the nasty, ranting maniac I have been in the past. So for me, my "cost-benefit analysis" reveals that NOTHING I've ever eaten (even good ol' southern casseroles & comfort food) is worth going back to who I was. Not when I can be who I am now…

    As for family, friends, etc…it has been easier for just me to be gluten-free b/c I can ALWAYS find SOMETHING I can eat (be it fruit or protein)…but now that we're taking our little boy off gluten, i am afraid the lash-back from others (in-laws) will be because he's not getting to eat "fun" things or have a "normal childhood." He's never had a "normal" childhood because of the reflux that we didn't realize was probably the result of this gluten issue. He's never been able to eat what other kids eat…I'm hopeful that as we get him off gluten, maybe he WILL be able to eat citrus or chocolate or juice again, in moderation. And I'm also hopeful that as he gets off gluten, his own angry, controlling tendencies will lessen, just as mine have. Prayerfully, this result will be enough to change the minds of the grandparents who may have opinions about the changes we're making…

    We definitely feel that we are against the grain of this culture, but at least we're all in this together. I'm thankful that my husband would embrace the changes I've had to make, with a few special occasion exceptions that I'm fine with. It will be far harder for the 5 year old, though, and I feel that we will all have to eat the same way until he goes through his own "grief" period & can come to grips with the fact that other people can eat things that he just can't. For now, we're just making lots of "CAN eat" lists, instead of focusing on what he CAN'T eat. And above all, I'm thankful that I've been down this road for a bit ahead of him so that we can be "on the same team" and he can have an ally in this world. I'm thankful for that above all else.

  43. jon says:

    Hi, I tried making your dairy-free ranch dressing/dip recipe. I'm sure I followed everything right but it came out a bit too watery rather than thick and creamy. Has this ever happened to you or has anyone who has made this told you this happened to them? I just wanted to know what I did wrong.

  44. AmandaonMaui says:

    A blogger in my local community cheats. She's told me she does it. She cheated in front of me at a social media conference. I didn't know what to do. There were few food options for us, but there were some gluten free crab cakes she and I could have eaten. I ate them, but she ate them and the teriyaki chicken which was not gluten free. I just kept my mouth shut. She told me how tasty they were. I walked away.

    Another blogger, that I don't know personally, posts pictures of food she eats that is not gluten free. She is gluten sensitive, and she has said that she knows the gluten is not good for her body. She mostly eats gluten free, but she cheats. She's pregnant too. I worry about her health and her baby's health if she is not caring for herself as she should.

    I don't mean to be tattling, but I just don't know what to do when I see cheating. When others cheat it really can mess up other people's view on gluten free people. I am very sensitive. If people get lazy about keeping my food safe because they believe all gluten free people cheat, then I'll really be left out of dining out with friends. I may also not be taken seriously about my gluten issue when I am discussing it with someone. It makes me so sad, mad and scared.

    What would you do?

    • Amanda,

      While I can empathize with those who cheat (I did do it for quite some time back when I didn't any know better…but I'm also paying a hefty price for it with more autoimmune diseases which I will now have to deal with for the rest of my life). I do however take issue with bloggers who blog about actively cheating (whether they have celiac or not). As a blogger myself, I feel a great sense of responsibility for what I share on my blog…you never know who is reading your content and what their level of understanding is of their own health condition(s). And I absolutely agree with you about how our actions are perceived by others.

      What would I do?

      Honestly, I would reach out to the blogger(s) in question and kindly explain your concerns – coming off harshly, even when you have every right to feel the way you do – only tends to make people defensive and less likely to consider your viewpoint (at least in my experience anyway). If she doesn't respond, there really isn't anything you can do about it…well, other than perhaps to generate a discussion on this topic with your blog readers (maybe even link to her blog as a an example of why people need to be careful when getting information about the gluten free diet on the internet!). ;-)

  45. maureen says:

    DAMN I needed that!!!!! it felt as though the words on the page transformed and spoke DIRECTLY to me and addressed the EXACT reasons why I keep cheating!!!!

    thank you thank you thank you thank you

  46. Joanne says:

    I ‘was’ scarfing down handfuls of Pepperidge Farms fish crackers and loathing myself for it as I am also lactose intolerant……..every once and a while I do these things…….and I came across your article. Hmmmm, very well put…..hit the nail on the head. I have put away my daughters fish crackers! Hopefully for good this time.

  47. Beverly says:

    Thank you so much for this Heidi, I really needed to hear all of that. You are such a inspiration to me and to so many! Thank you!

  48. Cherie says:

    That was really helpful!  I am a baker so you can imagine how hard this has been (two weeks now – no cheating so far) but harder than the hundreds of cupcakes and cookies that go under my nose every day is the fact that tomorrow is my son’s birthday and I am not going to eat cake with him.  Ugh… I will read this every hour tomorrow and I will sing louder to him and I will bake myself gluten free cookies to eat while everyone else has the cake that I will make…. SO happy to know everyone struggles…

  49. Amy says:

    I have not cheated with gluten yet, because I’m terrified! Terrified of the deep, dark hole I was in prior to discovering my gluten sensitivity. But I am also dairy and corn sensitive, and those are MUCH harder for me. Because with dairy and corn I think, “It’s just a little stomach pain, a little joint pain, I can handle pain.” Where as gluten makes me so exhausted, lethargic and depressed that I will never eat it again. But this post made me cry. Because even though I know what it does to me, I can’t help but miss it for all the reasons you listed. 

    I used to make beautiful, gorgeous yummy homemade bread for my whole family. My six kids ate sandwiches from homemade bread every day and bragged about it to their friends. I loved my Bosch mixer and wheat grinder and felt an immense pride in the homemade things I made. Now I feel like a failure. I feel sad every time a child says, “Is this gluten free?” in that accusing voice that says gluten free is gross. And now they say nothing about their sandwiches even though it’s still homemade bread, because they are embarrassed that it’s gluten free. Two of my children are also gluten intolerant, but the older one hates it. Complains all the time. My three year old has adapted easily. But my other kids just get so excited to eat gluten filled treats whenever they leave the house. *sigh*. 

    I have tried so many recipes, that for me seem heavenly and delightful. But my children continue to be sad that we are a gluten free family. I’m new to this, so perhaps it gets better and the food gets better and the children get used to it. But despite how great I feel physically, I have to work hard to not be sad at what I’ve lost. 

  50. Eve-lisa says:

    Thank you. I was recently diagnosed in October. Your blog, as well as another I found have been invaluable to me. This post in particular articulates the roller coaster ride this new lifestyle has been the way no other post or article has decribed things. I tried to explain to my loved ones that it is the emotional ties to the food that have been hardest…not being able to make and eat family recipes that I grew up with and had taken comfort from for my whole life up until now. My friends try to be supportive. I struggle with not wanting to be an inconvenience. Its hard to turn down food tthat has been prepared for you and taken up your friends’ time and effort. I recently gave in and took a risk. I was sick for three days, a nagging irritation. I was still able to work but my energy was low, my guts hurt and my mood was rotten. I spared my friend’s feelings by eating the meal but at what cost? My friends don’t understand cross contamination… If they don’t see a tangible impact on you, immediately, they figure “what can it possibly hurt?”. Some of my family think the same. Your post made me remember that if I don’t lead by example…. They won’t adapt either. Thank you, Heidi for saying in print what I felt in my heart and didn’t know how to say.

  51. Nice informative blog, thanks for sharing.

  52. Gluten Free Gals says:

    Thank you, Heidi! This has me in tears as it nailed the feelings my daughter and I endure on a daily basis. My 5 year old has been GF since he was 18 months old, so he’s never known any thing differently, but my 10 year old is acutely aware of the things she is missing and the accommodations that must be made to attend a birthday party or a sleepover. It is a daily challenge and I must admit that we both occasionally cheat and then feel guilty about it. I’m printing this for her, as well. Perhaps we can join forces again and re-commit to not cheating for our health!

  53. WOW Heidi…..hugs GF. According to the doctors…I must be crazy. The latest diagnosis for me was fibromialgia. Reading your post and many of the responses. The depression, muscle aches and tireness. Recently after a eatting breadsticks and pizza because I was without a kitchen due to remodeling, I found myself soo distended I thought i was going to split open and give birth to an alien baby. The only thing that seems to make sense is a gluten sensitivity. After that last episode…I am done!!!!

  54. Kaylee says:

    I read this article after shoveling forkfuls of a gluten -filled cake into my mouth at the office. It is my administrator’s birthday and a coworker’s wife made a delicious homemade chocolate cake. I couldn’t say no, my mouth salivated as I pondered the thought of actually cheating – the first time in months – making excuses to myself that it was ‘birthday cake’ and ‘I deserved to taste it.”

    Of course, after two bites my stomach began to ache and my inner voice was beating me to a pulp with guilt. Oh how I regret, not even 5 minutes after talking myself into it, eating those two bites of wonderful cake.

    I googled, “gluten free but cheated and had birthday cake.” It brought me here. Comparing the consumption of gluten to motor oil really helps me to say NO next time. I’m learning to forgive myself for my mistakes and an article like this puts it into perspective. It is not easy. It is not a temporary restrictive diet, it is a lifelong sentence …. and the added pressure not only from myself – but outside sources – is sometimes a little much to stomach.

  55. Michelle says:

    Hi Heidi,
    I have a question I read about your wonderful eating experience on your cruise. Our family will be flying to Mexico and staying at a resort there so I was wondering if the resort could accommodate my gluten/grain, corn, dairy, egg, peanut, sugar and night shade free diet/ allergies as well and how I would take care of this issue. # 1 the phone number is like a mile long (never had to dial such a long number) 2 will I be able to speak to someone with good English that can understand what I need.
    Help!!! Do you have any recommendations or advice of what and how I should take care of this?!? Thanks soooo much
    Michelle

Trackbacks

  1. [...] over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom has some great posts, but this one profoundly impacted me.  Heidi’s article talks about the ‘why’ of cheating on a gluten-free [...]

  2. [...] check out this article by Heidi, on cheating on a gluten free diet. She hits it straight on the nail. I ask myself why do I cheat [...]

  3. [...] you do, Do. Not. Cheat. (little sister, I’m talking to you specifically).  Even if you don’t feel any outward [...]

  4. [...] new gluten-free world.  Shirley was my saving grace three years ago when I finally decided to quit cheating.  I can vividly recall the first time I came across her blog and the wealth of information she [...]

  5. [...] memory lane: I’ve never been anything less than completely honest when it comes talking about my struggles with cheating on the gluten free diet those first few years after my celiac diagnosis (or anything else for that [...]

  6. [...] Gluten is absolutely, positively, non-negotiable – 100% of the time for our family.  NO cheating.  Not even a crumb.  Period.  End of [...]

  7. […] Ask Heidi:  Cheating on the Gluten-Free Diet (part of her Gluten-Free 101 […]

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