Sorry my weekly menu plan is going up so late, I was thrown off schedule this weekend by planning for the Gluten Free Super Bowl party I hosted at my house yesterday. I wish I could say I watched some of the game, but a more pressing matter arose when my sister (who was diagnosed with celiac disease in October) broke down over the stress she is feeling while adjusting to the gluten free lifestyle. I can certainly empathize as it took me three years to accept and embrace my own gluten free life.
If I only knew then what I know now…the transition would have gone much, much smoother!
One thing is for sure, we all acclimate at a different pace and there are many factors that can influence the acceptance process. Family support, finances, the type of diet and lifestyle one led before going gluten free and the degree of suffering one experiences when consuming gluten are four big determining factors of how quickly a person moves through the stages of grief over the loss of gluten process.
For me, the lack of digestive issues and my on-the-go lifestyle – as well my naturally stubborn personality – were all major hurdles I had to jump on the road to gluten free acceptance. It did not happen overnight; I’m not sure it happens that way for anyone.
I am so grateful that we discovered my children’s food intolerances at such a young age, because they will never know a different world. They will have to adjust (and are adjusting) to be sure, but in terms of the expectations they have for their lives, they will know in advance that they will have to live a very different lifestyle. For those of us who were diagnosed later in life, the shattered dreams can be difficult to replace. It’s not easy to accept that the life you imagined for yourself is not going to be the life that you lead, and this can be especially difficult when there are other people in your life who have come to have the same expectations. It’s bad enough that you have to make radical changes for yourself; the guilt that comes with needing others to accept those changes can be overwhelming.
If you are newly diagnosed or if you are struggling to adjust to your new gluten-free lifestyle, I can assure you that I know where you are. And in a very spiritual sense, you were there with me on my long and arduous journey of personal acceptance. You were there with me when I was convinced that I could not have Celiac Disease because I showed no overt symptoms. You were there with me when I tried to rationalize letting my family continue to eat the most atrocious “food” on the planet while I held my nose to eat a rice cake. You felt my pain when the slowly tightening noose of social acceptance choked off all hope of a “normal” carefree life. On our trip to Lego Land, when every decision and side trip had to be planned around what we could eat and at what potential cost, you were there. You felt the unbelievably slow acceptance from my family that I had an “actual” medical condition that required a special diet.
You were there with me in spirit, whether you knew it or not. And I am with you now! I know exactly where you are, even though you feel the sense of desperation, the “wake-you-up-at-3 am” feeling of “what am I going to do now?” I have seen the upturned noses from your husband and children at your first attempt at creating gluten-free fried chicken (or whatever). I know the pain you feel while others devour those very special Thanksgiving Day rolls while you eat gravy-less turkey and plain green beans. And I know that this is the potential future that you now fear with all of your heart and soul, a lifeless, tasteless, thankless life of complete exclusion, expense, and frustration. Oh yes, how I know where you are!
I have dedicated the month of February on this blog (for the most part) to helping you understand there is a way “out” of this unhappy place that you find yourself. I started this blog two and a half years ago for me, for my own sanity. I needed an outlet, a place where I could share my frustrations and successes, find new ideas, and capitalize on the successes of others. I have spent countless hours (and dollars) trying to find food ideas that work for both me and my family, slowly learning to overcome the limitations that come with convenient food. While I was a pretty good cook before my diagnosis, I have had to learn to cook all over again (and again and again), using foreign ingredients and throwing fits over my many failures. It has been a long road for me and my family, but we are now on the other side and are sooooo much better for it. Heck, I’ll go ahead and say it. I’m MUCH happier today than I have ever been in my life!
The gluten-free lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint. My blog (and many others) are loaded with recipe creations that are “free” of so many common ingredients other than gluten. But I understand that every marathon begins with the first steps, so I am bringing back the dairy, sugar, corn, soy, processed, etc. for a short time while I take a stroll down memory lane and re-walk this path with you. I will be sharing recipes that are “just” gluten-free and are relatively easy/inexpensive to make, foods that your whole family will love. The goal is to get you (and your family) on a strict gluten-free diet and loving it (because if you have celiac disease, including all of the healthy fruits, vegetables, allergen-free, refined sugar-free, organic, all-natural, non-GMO, etc., etc. foods in your diet will do you no good if you still feel compelled to cheat every once in a while…we have to heal and protect those precious nutrient-absorbing villi!).
You CANNOT have “just a little” gluten here and there, so let’s go gluten-free first, and once you start feeling 1,000% better, we can go from there.
I love you Gretchen and I promise that everything is going to be a-okay! I will hold your hand, be your shoulder to cry on, the Lucy to your Ethel, the Thelma to your Louise and the coach who picks you up when you’re tired and can’t go one more play. We will do this TOGETHER. xoxo
Weekly Menu Plan: Naturally Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Egg-Free and Soy-Free
Monday: Skillet Chicken and Salad
Tuesday: Roasted Shrimp and Green Beans and Salad
Wednesday: Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction (I’ll simply omit the butter), Baked Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli
Thursday: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Friday: Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Cream and Sausage Sauce and Salad
Sunday: Spicy Grilled Tuna Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing (I’ll omit the hard boiled egg)
A Few “Just” Gluten Free Recipe Ideas
Spaghetti with Crockpot Turkey Bolognese Pasta Sauce
Some of the topics that came up on my Facebook page for this month of Gluten Free 101 included breakfast ideas, kid-friendly meals, lunchbox ideas, traveling, setting up a gluten-free kitchen (and many others). I also thought I would share the fascinating blood tests and endoscopy photos that led to my own diagnosis in 2005 (anyone up for comparing villi? LOL!).
Are there any other topics you would like to discuss?
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