Friday, May 28, 2010

It's the little things.

Here's something that makes me happy: going out for dinner with friends, toting along my bottle of GF soy sauce, and having our friendly server exclaim, "Oh, does someone here have a gluten issue? We have gluten-free soy sauce in the kitchen and we can make your appetizer (sesame spinach) with that." AWESOME! Kudos to Mikimotos in Wilmington, where choices include Thai-inspired curries and paella, rice noodle dishes, and a wide selection of fresh, delicious sushi. I really appreciate that the servers and kitchen staff alike are attuned to the existence of their GF customers.

I'm grateful for the advocacy work accomplished by the celiac awareness movement in the many years up til now (celiac disease was first described in the 2nd century CE but wasn't linked to wheat until the 1940s) when gluten intolerance is becoming more widely known in the food and restaurant industries. I feel fortunate, relatively speaking, to have been diagnosed at a time when possibilities are expanding every day. The response I've received from most friends and acquaintances alike has been overwhelmingly supportive, and people in general are more curious about celiac disease than I could have possibly imagined.

That said, the word "diet" makes me so frustrated. It gets thrown around so indiscriminately that many people think the gluten-free diet is the latest fad or trendy health craze or weight loss regimen (au contraire). As if gluten-free is the new macrobiotic or organic or fat-free or low-carb or raw food or grapefruit or caveman diet. As if I had a choice.

The problem with gluten is that it's virtually everywhere so it requires a drastically new way of dealing with all food and avoiding contamination. And the repercussions are in the long-term, in addition to the immediate reaction of being glutened (which varies from person to person), so it requires strict self-discipline at all times. There's no cheating in celiac disease! Even if I don't get sick right away, although I probably would, it's an investment in my future health so that I can hopefully reduce my risk of far more serious problems.

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