My regular readers might note that I have gotten frustrated a time or two…or fifty-thousand…. when non-celiacs make a mess of my celiac existence. Today’s post is a bit different. Today’s post is an open letter to the celiacs of this world who are still eating gluten.
I have three sets of emotions for you: Disbelief & anger. Anger & defensiveness. Frustration and compassion.
1.) Disbelief and Anger.
This is a one-blog intervention here. What the hell are you doing? You KNOW better. You KNOW that you are damaging your body. You KNOW that even if your symptoms aren’t “that bad”, that you are STILL reducing your life-span and increading your odds of certain cancers and diseases. Why the hell are you still eating gluten? Especially since there is a glut of gluten-free food available now. Do you think that the rest of the celiacs of the world don’t also miss things like chocolate croissants and chewy donuts? OF COURSE WE DO!!!! But we don’t cheat because what we would miss even more is our families…our spouses and partners and children and siblings. We would miss our friends. We would miss the opportunity to DO something good in this world. Why would you put all of that on the line for something as stupid as a protein? Find a new food obsession. A new, gluten-free one. Just stop being stupid. You know better. You aren’t an infant or a toddler. You are old enough to drive a car and decide who should be president of the United States….why do you think you are capable of making those kinds of important decisions if you can’t even make one as simple as saying “No” to something that you know is a poison to you? This is a “forever” disease. There isn’t a cure for it. So put on your big-girl undies and find a way to accept it and then MOVE ON! Sure, it sucks…but in the grand scheme, it sucks a lot less than a lot of things, and you don’t have a choice anyway.
2.) Anger and Defensiveness.
So, I’m kind of mad about you cheating now…not because you are killing yourself (that was #1), but because your selfishness could end up killing my kid. That’s right. To the thousands of celiac kids out there, who aren’t grown-up enough to ask all of the right questions when eating out, you are their WORST spokesperson ever. Why? Because every time you go and eat gluten, everyone around you who knows you are a celiac (or that you shouldn’t be eating gluten) thinks that it is now “okay” for celiacs to have a little bit of gluten. They now think that a little girl insisting that she can’t ‘pick the croutons off her salad’ or ‘just eat the hot dog and not the bun’ is just being “picky”. We all know she is trying to advocate for her health and her life…. but you just taught those people to not take her seriously. So, on behalf of the thousands of celiac kids out there, I thank you for being a selfish jerk. Way to shorten my kid’s lifespan because you are CHOOSING to be an idiot. You just significantly increased a celiac kid’s chances of being cross-contaminated. ..and just because you decided that that isn’t important to you, it DOES NOT give you the right to do something that could so significantly shorten the lifespan of others. So, if you can’t do it for you, then do it for them. I know you didn’t choose to be a spokesperson, either (just like you didn’t choose to have celiac disease), but guess what? Your actions are still just as potent, so accept responsibility for your actions and just STOP!
3.) Frustration and Compassion.
Okay. So, I’ve chewed you out here. (not as much as I did in my mind, however….) Look….I get it. Truly. I do. I have celiac disease, too. I have cried in grocery store aisles… I have called countless companies about their products, waited on hold for eternity, and thought I was in the clear only to be told after an eon of listening to Kenny G. musak that I couldn’t buy/eat something after all. I have had to pack an individual, separate cupcake for my child to bring to almost every birthday party she has been invited to. I have gone to countless events for work or with friends only to find that there is nothing I can eat or drink besides water. I have stayed home for countless MORE of these types of events, just to avoid the anger and sadness that overcomes me each time I have to sit in a room full of people eating and talking and not understanding why I am standing there with an empty plate. I understand how angry you can feel when you realize that you will be thinking about every bite of food that you put in your mouth, 3 times a day, every day, from here until the end of your life. And I understand how much you want to just NOT have to think about what you are eating, at all. I know how irritating it is to watch a waitress cross-contaminate your meal for the second time in a row, where you have to decide whether to send it back (and eat dinner after everyone else is done with dessert), or simply sit with a plate full of food you can’t eat in front of you, thinking only of how much you have to pay for a plate full of poison. I miss those little hole-in-the-wall joints you could grab a nice, greasy burger at, or the thrill of enjoying a new cuisine, I know how hard it is to have any sort of spontaneity when traveling, since you always have to make sure that there is some place within 30 miles of your destination that will have something you can eat. I realize that this is even harder when you are in a place that does not speak your language. I feel for how tired you are of ALWAYS having to cook meals, and NEVER having take-out or delivery options. I know how superfluous “continental breakfasts” are, and yet how common they seem to be all of a sudden. I know how odd it makes you feel to be the “special meal” in all of your friend’s social plannings. And I know how expensive it can be to try and maintain a sense of “normal” when you have to be gluten free.
I get it. And I am sorry. You have a disease – one that you will never, EVER, be able to be rid of. One that REQUIRES you to be gluten free, every day…for the rest of your life. It seems like a long time….and that is why I am writing this. …because as angry as I am at you right now, the simple truth is that I WANT YOUR LIFE TO LAST A LONG TIME. I don’t want you to miss a minute of it. I don’t want you to suffer through it any more than you already are. I want your children and your nieces and nephews and friends to have to buy you gluten free brownies for decades to come. I want you to think about something right now.
I want you to truly think about why you are still eating gluten.
I want you to find a way to come to peace with that. It is means taking a week to binge on everything that you can never eat again before going and staying gluten free, so be it. Whatever it is, find a way to accept it.
Do it for you. Do it for the celiac kids out there. Do it for your friends. Do if for your family. Do it for your pets. Hell, do it for any umber of reasons….just please, please…find a way to do it.
I am sorry that you have celiac disease. I am sorry that it is so hard for you. I don’t know why you have it, but I DO KNOW that you can do it! You can. And if you are having a tough time of it, please reach out to the celiac community. We get it. We understand you. We’ve been there. We are in blogs (like this one!) and online and on facebook…heck, 1 out of every 133 people have celiac disease, so you are not alone. (And some of us are even lucky enough to have non-celiac friends who have pretty good shoulders to cry on…) So…what do you think? Think you can stick with it?
Yeah…I knew you could. 🙂