How do you lose friends fast? Alienate your family? And offend everyone you meet who cannot understand why you won’t eat their freshly baked white loaf?
You tell them you’re gluten free, of course!
Gluten-free people are pariahs. Faddy, fussy, self-obsessed weirdos who sit on the same bench as baby-eaters and dog-beaters. Their desire to not eat wheat, barley or rye is as peculiar and suspicious as Donald Trump’s candy-floss hair. They must be cast-out of society. Set adrift on a boat to ‘anywhere-but-here’.
I do not suffer with Coeliac disease; my choice to quit gluten consumption followed my reading of the fabulously enlightening book, ‘Grain Brain.’ If you’d like to learn more about gluten and it’s alleged ability to cause severe inflammation in the body, particularly the brain, have a read. I’m not here to convince you to give up the toast. Your choices are yours; it seems my choices, however, are not mine.
My choices are to be frequently questioned and challenged by my friends, and most disappointingly, my family. Every time we go out for food, someone will make a snarky remark about my decision to order something gluten-free. I never make a fuss. I simply ask for a gluten-free menu, or, should one not be available, I usually choose something without bread or pasta. It really shouldn’t have a bearing on anyone else’s enjoyment of the occasion. But, it does. And I think I know why.
Humans like to do things in crowds. We feel safe when we’re surrounded by our kind; people with the same interests, likes/dislikes etc. When one of our gang opts out of something, it sends a ripple of insecurity and discomfort through the rest of the team. And, most importantly, it makes them question their own, usually unhealthy, eating habits. And no one wants to feel guilty when they’re forcing another slice of pizza down their throat.
Former smokers and drinkers must experience the same reaction. For, some reason, voluntarily abstaining from a so-called guilty pleasure renders you a total bore. Not being wankered makes you tedious company on a night out. Not smoking a fag makes you an interminable health freak. And not eating gluten? Well, that’s the weirdest of all. You’re the leper of the group.
I don’t persistently question my diabetic father-in-law about his over-consumption of Diet-Coke; I don’t ask my overweight friend why she’s having banoffee pie for pudding; and I don’t ask my arthritic aunty, why she eats pick ‘n’ mix every night. Their decisions are theirs to make and their ill-health should speak for itself.
Let us all focus on making our own lives the best they can be, and allow others to follow the road they choose to walk.
I’m not boring; I’m not strange; I’m not being deliberately alternative; I’m certainly not jumping on any band-wagon. I simply choose not to eat gluten. And guess what? I feel fantastic and that’s enough for me.