Brief responses to specific questions & issues

*What About Traveling?

Yes, I can wander. Europe was pretty easy, especially when staying in places with kitchens or with friends (who fed me so generously & carefully). Some hotels are fantastic for celiacs. (I never wanted to leave Casa Camper in Barcelona.) I went to the farmer's markets and bought local ingredients. With the exception of Barcelona, I almost never ate in restaurants due to healthy suspicion.

I hear Japan and China are really, really hard and I haven't tried yet.

My advice to others--If you haven't really become adept with spotting gluten in all its guises and feeding yourself well, consider waiting until you've mastered basic celiac skills. For most of us, being diagnosed brings up all kinds of emotional history related to love, grief, and, obviously, food. Finding oneself lost and hungry in a foreign place is one of the harder ways of encountering one's psychic wounds. Emotions like sadness, shame, anger or self-doubt can make it complicated to explain what one needs in a foreign tongue or make it difficult to say no to questionable foods. If possible, give yourself some time to experience and adjust to a new emotional landscape before venturing into unknown lands.

*Does the Joyful Celiac eat at restaurants?

Rarely and with research, communication, & great care. I will eat at restaurants that have no gluten on their entire menu. There is a local raw chain that does not use gluten in their food at all. It is a blessing to be able to walk into restaurant and to be able to eat everything on the menu without anxiety or negotiation with the staff. And the food is rich in taste & nutrition. Wallow in the desserts.

I will also eat at places that source their ingredients carefully and have a separate gluten-free menu. (In the Bay Area Dosa & Millennium.) These are pricey places to eat, and for me getting sick is far more expensive. Missed work, missed life. Recently Samovar opened in a place very convenient to me and after checking on their tamari and miso, I began eating there three times a month. (Jook with tofu or the tea soup with tofu.) I realized last week that I haven't asked them recently whether their ingredients have changed. I haven't had symptoms associated with meals there, but I also haven't been antibody tested in a while.

*How do you eat with other people?

I make something they'll eat with me or we choose to eat different things. Maybe we go to restaurant on the list above. If someone wants to meet somewhere I can't eat & I feel like doing that, then I eat very well before I go and then I have San Pellagrino. (Italian mineral water feels festive to me.) My dearest friends eat gluten-free when they're with me and are vigilant about feeding me. I am moved by their devotion.

*You're so disciplined--Real people can't eat the way you do.

I'm a grateful real person. I spent more than thirty years being ill and I won't willingly give up one minute of feeling fabulous. When I am locked in the loo, exhausted, anxious, and mentally foggy, I don't feel very available to others. For me, eating a high-nutrient, no-gluten diet is loving my life and by extension serving others.

Let's also be clear: celiac disease is a disease and it can be lethal. My maternal grandmother died before she was seventy, of complications related to treating a celiac-related colon cancer after a sixty years of eating wheat.

I'm not disciplined--I am motivated, organized and willing to prioritize time and money on eating well.

*You're so slender--Is that because you can't eat anything?

No. I eat lots of things--just not the same things that gluten-eaters eat. I eat calorie dense foods many times a day including cheese, chocolate, and nuts. My body size is a genetic fluke, possibly the result of being celiac. I could probably live on coconut milk ice cream and remain thin. My father's side of the family is tall and skinny and my mother's side is celiac.

*You're so slender--I wish I had celiac disease.

No, you don't.

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