No Gluten? No Guten*!
*Guten is German for “good”
According to the Internet (at least, THIS article on Web MD), about 1 in 133 people has Celiac Disease and 6 in 100 people have NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity). Is there a difference? You bet! People with Celiac Disease lose weight no matter how much they eat, they are malnourished, have skin rashes, ulcers in the mouth, seizures, are anemic, and gluten truly effs them up. People with NCGS get bloated and gassy.
I recently had a friend stay with us who gave up gluten a few years ago. Man, was she high-maintenance! Every time we shopped or cooked or talked, she had to mention that she couldn’t eat gluten. Couldn’t? That’s a bit of a stretch, I thought to myself. It’s not like she has ever been to a doctor for actual blood tests, had a biopsy, discovered that her intestines are indeed not absorbing nutrients. No. She just decided to give up gluten and discovered that yes, by golly, she DID feel better!
There was a time when I gave up alcohol for a few months. I felt amazing! I once gave up meat for an entire month too (but only because I couldn’t afford to buy any!) and yes, I felt great then too. Oh, and the time I did the Candida Diet – nothing fermented, no sugars, no fruit, no dairy, no starches, no nuts. I lost a TON of weight and I felt and looked incredible!!
But FACK, I was miserable. All I could think or talk about was food. What I could eat, what I couldn’t eat, where to buy certain foods, etc. My thoughts were consumed by my next meal, my next snack; my mind (clear as it was) raced! I was like an over-enthusiastic, wide-eyed puppy on caffeine, jumping at people’s legs hoping they’d pat my head and let me talk to them about my new-found miracle diet. Looking back I can practically feel them rolling their eyes as I bounced away. GAD, I was so annoying!
When I went back to my regular diet, I returned to my jolly self, happy in my seeming unhealthiness. Sure, beer gives me farts and milk gives me squirts and cooked spinach releases my colonic valve unexpectedly. SO WHAT?! I still love me a good spinach and cheese omelet – I just make sure I’m next to a bathroom when I eat it! I avoid milk itself but I still eat cheese and sour cream and butter and ice cream – I know I’m going to get bloated and might get some cramps at some point, but there’s a risk/reward effect here: I risk the pain for the reward of yummy food! Nom nom!
And aside from writing about it in my personal blog to strangers (haha!), I don’t mention it to people. I don’t pass up dinner invitations or accept them only if the meal is to my liking. I don’t turn down a scrumtious spinach salad, kindly offered by a dear, well-meaning, health-conscious friend. If I’m offered a glass of milk, a simple “no thank you” seems to suffice.
In my eyes, these are merely sensitivities, not true allergies or diseases. If they were, I would have FAR worse symptoms – anemia, vomiting, skin rashes, etc. A little bloating and pooping is not enough of a deterrent for me. So when my friend forgoes the weiners because there’s no label to inspect for gluten, I wonder what would happen if she “accidentally” ate some wheat (or rye or whatever has gluten in it)? Would she feel bloated? Sick? Tired??? Probably, if she ate a whole package of the weiners or ate gluten 5 times over the next 2 days. But from ONE WEINER??? Hmmmmm…
I’m not saying she isn’t sensitive to gluten. She might be! And the repercussions of eating some may be so horrendous that she simply cannot give in and eat some even once. But the whole time she was here we had to bend over backwards to accommodate her “diet” – we couldn’t eat out because there was nothing on the menu for her to order, we couldn’t order pizza for the kids because she couldn’t eat it, we couldn’t shop at a certain grocery store because the gluten-free section wasn’t big enough, and everything in every store was not labelled gluten-fucking-free!! ARGH!!!
Sometimes people just want the world to acknowledge their specialness. I once dated a guy who I found out had Crohn’s only after we went out for lunch and I was teasing him about not being able to order a salad. The disease didn’t define him, and he was even shy about telling me he had it. Last week I found out a friend of mine was a vegetarian. If you had asked me “is she a vegetarian?” I would’ve replied “no”. You know why? Because it’s never come up! I’ve known her for YEARS, we’ve spent many hours together at many events, hung out at her place and my place and gone shopping, and I had NO idea she was a vegetarian. Not because I’m a bad friend, but because she doesn’t feel the need to wear the Vegetarian’s Badge of Honour on her forehead. And I never had a reason to watch what she put on her plate.
I don’t know. I am seriously starting to think that maybe the biggest symptom of NCGS is whining… at least in my friend’s case. (And don’t think I don’t see the irony in this post – me whining about my friend’s whining. LOL!)