ADHD / Coping Strategies / Gluten Free Living

Gluten-free living sucks. Period.

There seems to be an explosion these days, of lovely blogs and websites and “resources” dedicated to feeding (hardy-har-har) the gluten-free masses with a surprising amount of style and creativity.

Fabulous. I couldn’t give less of a shit. Since being forced to go gluten-free, I have been innundated by many kind forwards of these resources from friends. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – but the simple fact is, for whatever reason, I am angry about having food-choice ripped away from me. And I am desperate for a way to let that anger go, but I just haven’t found it yet.

In the meantime, for context let me lay out a few details:

  1. Some people go gluten-free to “treat” their ADHD or to try to find causes of their children’s ADHD-type issues. I am not one of those people. I have stopped eating gluten because it was making me sick.
  2. A side-note to that is that it is now very clear that my ADHD issues were not in any way related to gluten/wheat consumption.
  3. My mother and sister are both gluten-intolerant also, so it’s apparently a really special genetic connection we can all share (insert sarcasm here).
  4. I am also lactose intolerant.
  5. I am also hypoglycemic – that is, possessing of frequently low blood sugar.
  6. I hate cooking. I’m not bad at cooking, but I utterly detest the process, mostly because I’m pretty sure there are 150,000 other things I’d rather be doing, the entire time I’m doing it, and I generally have a ton of other things I need to be doing just to keep this life chugging along. Aside from bigots, rapists, and liars, there is nothing I hate more than I hate cooking (punchline here is that my father and sister are both chefs). I would rather stab pencils through my hand, eat rats, or burn a pile of money, than have to cook for myself. I am only 50% joking.
  7. I’m usually a very solution-oriented thinker. At the moment: total #FAIL. But not because I haven’t tried. I spend several days a week trying.

I am also fully aware of the fact that no single or combination of these is the worst that life has to offer.

Nonetheless I just sat on the floor of a corner of my kitchen crying, because I just can’t stand it. I feel this way about once a week these days, and then I power through it, mostly because I feel guilty, or obligated to the nice people trying to help me feel better. I power through it for about 4-5 days before I totally lose my shit again. I spend those 4-5 days eating about 350 calories worth of food/day and mostly not eating. Because in order to power through this, I literally become numb to eating and only eat out of a sense of obligation. I start to crumble again after several days, the second I have a genuine urge for a food, and inevitably it is a food I can’t eat (because it’s either full of gluten – which incidentally is in EVERYTHING – or it’s a fresh dairy product, or it’s a high-glycemic index food which will sabotage my blood sugar <—–oh look, that eliminates everything except fresh vegetables and meat).

I have come to really almost love the numb feeling because it allows me to function. As I crumble, I crumble around the fact that I will never again be able to eat any of the foods that I truly love, never again will I eat the foods I actually crave. My stress level rises and the problem is compounded, because when I am stressed out, I crave the things that my body rejects: dumplings with meat in them, generally, and anything drowned in cream sauce.

I have made attempts at making this work…the un-awesome result of those attempts, is that I am now officially sick of the foods that I can eat. I not only don’t want to eat them, I am disgusted at the thought of them and as I chew them, the numb feeling comes back.

Food is a basic building block of life. You cannot live without food. I do not believe that I am suicidal and I do not believe that I have an eating disorder, but I do believe that my relationship with food is concerningly impaired. And a creative-gluten-free-eating blog sure as shit isn’t what is going to save me.

While I’m in the process of trying to figure out what will, it would be wonderful to have a day free of genuinely nice people offering me foods that they’ve forgotten I can’t eat. My father (well meaningly, and as just one example from this particular day) asked me to go out for ice cream with him earlier. When I simply declined, he got pushy, when I got specific and said “I can’t eat that” he said “what are you talking about?!” and then I had to remind him that I can’t eat dairy and he said “oh, I was thinking there wasn’t any gluten in ice cream I forgot about the dairy thing”. I know…my eating issues aren’t everyone else’s number one priority, nor should they be. But I forgot my bag of “safe food” this morning on the counter in my kitchen and arrived at work just in time to watch coworkers enjoying a plate of fresh baked cookies…and then offering them to me…gah. By the time I got to the ice cream conversation I was starving and I had already watched other people enjoy something I dearly love. You know, eat a food that actually gives a person a moment of enjoyment.

Of course there are the gluten free alternatives: 80% of which taste just about as great as you would expect an “alternative” to taste, and 20% of which I’m sick of eating because they’re all I can fucking eat.

I’m not miserable enough to kill myself, but I’m miserable enough to fantasize about performing some kind of home surgery on myself to remove my desires for food of any kind.

You know those people who obsess over what they “can’t” eat who actually just have disordered relationships with food and feel that they have more control over their lives because they can control their food? I used to be able to look at them with understanding and now I just want to slap the shit out of them. I’d better steer clear of the local co-op, if I have to listen to someone obsessing over the source of their fucking chakra cleansing snack crackers I’m gonna lose my shit. You don’t realize how fucking good a can of beef raviolis, in all their overprocessed, corporately-farmed shame are until you can’t eat them. Ever.

I actually LIKE whole, healthy food, but now that it’s all I can eat I resent it.

And there is no joy left in eating out, ordering out, or eating at other people’s houses. My options there are:

  1. Ask for a gluten-free menu, which will be a list of about 10 items, none of which being foods I would normally order when going out to eat. The numb feeling sets in.
  2. For ordering out, my only option is Dominos gluten free pizza. That’s it. There’s one semi-Mexican place I can eat at but I don’t want to overdo it because I’m starting to get sick of that too…and financially, eating out isn’t a great option anyway.
  3. I now bring a bag of food with me to other people’s houses. It’s rude, but the alternative is having to ask them to tell me every single ingredient in every food that they are serving…and then ask them if I can please read the bottles for the salad dressing, the barbecue sauce, any marinades, any ingredient that isn’t a whole food. Which is also rude. So I’m now, officially a rude houseguest every time I try to eat at a friend’s house. There is a third alternative: not eating. Also rude. See, no way out on that one.

I totally get that there are other people in the world who have NO food. I get that. But I’m going to bet that even people who have at least a very little food, would LOVE to have something that went a little further in pleasing their palates.

Let’s just leave the pity party there. If you are a person that quits eating certain things because it seems like the cool thing to do, don’t even think about commenting on this post, because you are, yes you are, an asshole. And please, PLEASE don’t send me any links to GREAT gluten free resources.

Please, GAWD let this mental state evolve in some permanent, more livable way. My mother says it took her two years to get used to it. Groan. How does it happen? How do we win these unwinnable games of the mind?

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22 thoughts on “Gluten-free living sucks. Period.

  1. I am so sorry you’re going through this; I cannot even imagine how difficult it is. Combined with the appetite-reducing effects of my meds, going GF would probably kill me and I think it says a lot about your willpower that you’re following your dietary restrictions instead of giving up and making yourself sick.

    While it certainly won’t help your mourning palette, I hope you keep some Ensure Plus (GF and “suitable for lactose intolerance”) in the fridge to stave off vitamin deficiencies and the like.

  2. I don’t know what it says about me that Ensure sounds delicious right now, LOL. Thank you for your comments Rachel. I’m feeling a lot better this week.

  3. Just found this by Googling “gluten free sucks.” I know how you feel because right now, I’m feeling pretty pissed. My family got to eat Taco Bell and I got to hold the bags on the way home. There is a couple things I could have gotten there but it’s really not that good and I was tied of the same thing every time. So instead I got to hold their bags of food and come home to eat the leftover gluten free tuna pasta salad that I made that tastes worse today than it did yesterday. I get it.

    Are you doing any better? I can totally relate to what you said about well meaning people sending emails about gluten free websites and recipes (all which require a bunch of weird ingredients that I don’t have). They tell me “There are so many gluten free options these days!” Would you tell someone without an arm how far they’ve come in the development of prosthetics? I love you, I know you mean well– but you have no idea!

    • That’s funny that you found me by Google gluten-free sucks – man, sometimes, it really DOES suck! However, I’m happy to report that I’m doing much better. My “yes” list is much longer now, and I got through the holidays (I accidentally ate gluten a few times during the holidays…that DID suck!) and I just feel more used to it all now. I’m sitting here having a junk food binge on Doritos (which claim to be gluten free…we’ll see) and guacamole. I’ve gotten better about knowing what kinds of foods I need to have around in order to keep myself sane. The one remaining obstacle is the impact on social eating. Families and groups gather over common food, and it feels very isolating to be the person who can’t eat it. I didn’t anticipate that, and I’m not sure that I’ll ever be totally used to it. I am finding that our kids like some of my gluten-free foods though, so I have been buying more of them so that we can share food at home, which is fun.

      So anyway…thank you for asking. I do know what you mean about hearing about all of the “options” – it’s true, there really are a lot of foods we can eat, and I appreciate it when people say that to cheer me, but it’s hard for people who don’t have to exclude gluten to understand how pervasive it is, in the North American diet – and the social impact. Thank you for writing…

  4. HI,
    Was just reading your post and I couldn’t agree with you more. It does suck.
    I can very much relate as I am a type 1 Diabetic, a coeliac and have more food allergies then I can name on the one little line that usually is included in Drs notes under current allergies.
    I have been a coeliac for 5 years now. I went into hospital with a sinus infection and walked out a coeliac. My husband had to go on the diet because the Drs told us he was contaminating me. It was either that or never kiss me again. When I even come into the slightest contact (and I do mean slightest, just the wrong hand soap will do it) I am typically paralysed for anywhere up to three days, bleed internally, not to mention the back pain. My family have never been and never will be supportive. My family constantly try to force me to be “normal”. I never even had any symptoms except a slight weight gain before the change but have a ton now.
    I hated it at first. The whole world just kept moving on and every second, every minute of the day -no matter where I looked all I saw was proof that my life was over. I hated hanging out with friends because they were constantly apologising to me for eating or trying to tempt me into having gluten “just this once”. Family outings became a dreaded event because every time I was ruining it for everyone, or so they told me. My husband’s family kept trying to ‘reason’ with us, about how we weren’t thinking about his safety. He lost over 20 kilos on the diet yet they still can’t see.
    It completely changed our lives and I was not ready for it. I have been a diabetic since I was 15 months old, I inject needles into myself 5 times a day and I have had diabetes for nearly 30 years and I still can say that changing to gluten was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
    One of my other allergies is citric acid, which is in almost a quarter to a half of all the available coeliac/ gluten free food. i can’t even eat a frozen gluten free meat pie because I am allergic to it.
    Both my sister and mother are lactose intolerant. And another has ADHD and Diabetes.
    Seeing the upbeat recipes sucked at first too, I went out and bought a whole heap of gluten free cookbooks that are currently collecting dust on the top of our cupboard. I never ate spinach salad before I became a coeliac and I don’t see the reason to change my eating habits now.
    I hated that on my wedding day I couldn’t go to get my hair and makeup done without going and pre – buying all the things I would need.

    My advice, and feel free to ignore it.
    -Don’t change all your eating habits to foods you don’t normally eat – most food usually has a gluten free alternative that pretty much does the same job. Changing your diet is bad enough, you don’t have to feel guilty about not wanting certain foods as well
    I usually now can just look at any recipe in any magazine and make it GF just by changing the ingredients to the brands I can eat
    – Invest in cooking appliances. I thought this was a really dumb thing until someone bought me a bread maker. I was thinking there is NO way that I am ever going to be good at making this. But I cheat, I buy the GF bread packets from Woolworths and throw it in with milk, press a button and non cardboard tasting bread. Cooking appliances save me a heap of time and I can spend an hour or so cooking up multiple meals in the slowcooker, oven, microwave, convection oven etc.
    – Don’t buy your food at your local health store, although they do stock foods, it’s usually expensive, and tastes like crap (no offence to health stores), your local supermarket is good enough, and while a lot of the food doesn’t say GF, each week after you shop look up a brand name that you like and check it out. Usually if one thing is GF then more likely than not others are too, a good starting point is Colgate, Kraft, Palmolive, Maybelline, White wings, Woolworths select (not home brand), to name a few have pretty good range of GF foods amongst their products
    – One way I found with social and family gatherings, get them addicted to the GF food. Cake and sauces are much better since I changed my diet, when they are having take out check, eventually you will find places to eat thet you like too, don’t loose heart. The first time I ate out GF they had to call the ambulance because I went into anaphylactic shock, it’s trial and error, now we got out to a few restaurants regularly and they even know our preferences so we don’t even have to ask.
    By the way woolworths sells a good frozen beef ravioli that is good, and masterfoods have several GF sauces available, just look at the label.

    And finally, the freezer is your friend. Pre – make food and freeze. That way you can eat food you like but don’t go crazy having to cook EVERY SINGLE MEAL. It really sounds simple, but I can’t name the amount of times I have almost cried because I only had to reheat instead of cook a whole meal. Meat, potato, rice, vegies, all these things and more and be frozen and reheated at your lesiure.
    Now I have left a far longer comment that I intended to, if you would like to look me up on Facebook, if you have any problems.
    Good Luck

  5. This is how I feel. I am gluten free because of allergies, and it sucks. I’m sorry you can’t eat dairy though, that really sucks. I hate it when I have to go out, and then I have to get a special order made up of salads.

  6. This is exactly what I went through a year and a half ago. All I ate was broccoli and eggs, if I ate at all. I had countless trips to the grocery that involved me crying uncontrollably and /or storming out in a fit of rage with no food. Now that anger and frustration you’re talking about has hit me again, but this is worse because I’m pissed at everyone that gets to eat the fucking cookies and milk they gave away at work. and the apple pie my work gave each employee for Thanksgiving, thanks for NOTHING. I hate everyone that can have an EASY FAST and filling snack or meal and not pay $30 bucks for it. they don’t care that a ‘quick’ snack for us requires stumbling around the kitchen for AT LEAST 20 minutes to have anything worth eating. I’m so sick of being offered cookies or cheese-its or breaded chicken when I say how hungry I am. Oh and out of the 3 snack machines at work, guess how many products I can eat? 2 things are gluten free. lays and fritos. out of THREE machines. don’t drink Pepsi zero, I swear it glutened me. I despise cooking with every fiber of my being and there is just no other option besides starving or paying a million bucks a year for a g-free food delivery service. OK ill stop ranting on your rant. I’m glad I’m not alone in my anger and starvation.

    • ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Totally acceptable to rant here, after all, I feel your pain, lol!!!!!! I had a really lovely gluten free moment tonight though – my oldest child made me dinner for the first time. And not only was that peanut butter/nutella/mashed banana toast DELICIOUS, but she also took care to verify that everything was gluten-free for me, and she made she to put things on clean plates, not on counters, to avoid cross contamination…she’s 11. How great is that? Pretty great. It felt wonderful to have someone ELSE think about what I was going to eat, make me something delicious, and make it so conscientiously. I highly recommend finding someone asap who can do this for you, even if they have to check with you to make sure the ingredients are all cool. Best to you…personally, I’m in a much better place about it, for the most part, these days…and I wish you the same πŸ™‚ In due time…when you are ready for it.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Pay like triple the price for triple less taste. Everything GF tastes like crap/we are probably just so angry and bitter we think everything in this world is crap. The food at staff parties/morning teas are the worse. And bake sales at work for charity. A few thoughtful people always do GF items but 99% of the time it has been contaminated and I have to rudely decline so I am starving and I look like the biggest food snob.

      • Soooooo sorry that so much gf stuff sucks, lol. Thanks for writing πŸ˜‰ I should write more about this topic, clearly, this post gets a lot of interest!

  7. I too found this by rage googling “gluten free sucks” (its just one of those kind of nights!). Finally an honest, truthfull opinion on being Gluten free- its F-ing awful! im so tired of people sugar coating it, turning it into some stupid fad diet, and treating it likes its not a real problem. ive been gluten free for two years now and im also highly allergic to dairy as well (even less food options…) and have IBS (no high sugars, fats, oils, etc), so i can completly relate to your pain! If one more person at a resturant tells me to “have a salad” im going to punch them. I hate when people say “well at least your really healthy!”, no im f-ing hungry- theres a difference! The only positive thing i thought would come from this all is weight loss and that certainly hasnt happened. Im pretty sure all of those “paleo-fad-diet” people who do it for weight loss are just stupid. it doesnt work like that and its so not worht it. they think they can relate cause theyre GF too, but theres is by choice. so i whole-heartedly agree that they are indeed assholes. sorry for the rant but i just really needed to get it out tonight before I ended up crying on my kitchen floor as well.
    Thanks for speaking up and writing this! Good Luck with it all!

    • HAHAHAHA, I HATE SALADS!!!!!!!!!!!! I do have days that are better than the one I was blogging the day I wrote that post but yes, there are some persistently annoying things about gluten free eating, for sure, and man, I hate eating out sometimes. I have a few local, reliable standbys that I love, and I’m more comfortable with asking restaurants ahead of time what my options are, so I don’t have to melt-down on the spot. Sigh…keep on truckin’ my food sensitivities friend πŸ™‚

  8. OMG!! I’m laughing my ass off and crying at the same time right now! I, too, found this by Googling “gluten free sucks”. I was diagnosed Celiac a year and a half ago. I could literally write pages about my anger and depression, but you all have really said most of it for me. Thank you!! I teach at a high school, and the student council sometimes leave treats in the teachers’ mailboxes. Just before Christmas, everyone got a lovely package of home-baked goodies. The students know I’m gluten-free, though, so they left me something different… a banana. Seriously!? A F–KING BANANA?!
    I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or bawl my eyes out. I feel so much better hearing from others who really KNOW what I’m going through.

    By the way, I was a smoker for thirty-plus years. I had tried to quit countless times. After going gluten free for over a year (and never once knowingly cheating) I was able to quit smoking. It was (sorry) a piece of cake. Seriously. They say smoking is the hardest addiction to kick. Nope. If I can adjust to never being able to have Stouffer’s Mac-n-Cheese again in my life, giving up cigarettes is NOTHING!!

    Hugs and gluten-free kisses to all. You made my day!

  9. Good to see we are all in the same boat (I too also Googled “gluten free sucks”). Having spent a long time avoiding a proper diagnosis, late last year I got sick enough from eating gluten to have to admit that I am gluten intolerant (and getting that diagnosis).

    I feel the same as you Katy, I don’t even want to eat any more, I’m so sick of eating the same things. For about a month I ate the same one single variety of sushi for lunch because everything else near work is gluten. I’m a terrible cook and don’t have time for cooking so mostly I just go with out. By the time I find something half decent and ‘safe’, I just can’t be stuffed to eat it. Even getting coffee is hard, a lot of places contaminate their food/drinks, I’m so sick of having to remember/seek out my list of ‘safe’ places to eat, it’s ridiculous.

    I hate eating out with people as well, I hate being ‘that’ person so like Arielle said, I usually just order a salad and eye off everyone elses’ wagyu beef burgers. Not even allowed to have croutons on my salad.

    F*** this. haha.

    • Indeed, fuck this, lol. I just had to write to a peanut oil manufacturer to ask the source of the Vitamin E that they add to their peanut oil. I don’t know why in the eff my peanut oil has stuff added to it…a scientist friend suggested that he thought it might have been added as a preservative. Whatever the case, they need to disclose sources on this shit! Geez, lol.

  10. Oh, where to start. First your feelings are totally valid, its miserable and isolating, at best. I haven’t put anything in my mouth that I have not prepared in 2 years, the benefits just arent worth the risks with restaurants. I just don’t care to put the effort into checking food labels, etc, so I eat lots of whole foods, BTW, I hate cooking too, gf substitutes suck, and they are expensive. I’ve resigned myself to the fact I am in food prison, and escape is not a viable option.

    • πŸ™‚ I’m happy to say that I’m in a much better place now, than when I wrote this piece! I’ve formed new habits, I know more…I have some new favorite foods. I still crave the old ones sometimes…but…it does get better…it has for me anyway πŸ™‚

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