Gotta Love the Element of Surprise: I Can’t Believe it’s Gluten-Free!

Having celiac disease means you have to immediately conform your life to a gluten-free lifestyle with absolutely no cheating and really make sure you avoid cross contamination at all costs. I can’t tell you how many times I have had someone tell me “I could never have celiac, I would die if I had to follow that diet.” There is one part of me that just wants to hit them in the head with a sack of gluten-free flour and retort “Really? You’d die? YOU’D DIE?” Way to be a total drama queen. And you might as well tell me how much it sucks to be me. It’s about that insulting to insinuate eating gluten-free is the equivalent of  swallowing a cyanide pill. You have absolutely NO idea how much it has changed my quality of life. It’s like I have been given a whole new life, but without constant pain, fatigue, pain, discomfort, bloating, pain…and more pain. If given a choice, I will go with Door #2, thanks.

My first year of having celiac disease was a major shift in my life where I had to completely overhaul every aspect of my carefree and food-obsessed life. I had my moments. My temper tantrums. My meltdowns. My self-pity parties filled with tears and frustration.  It was like trying to swim upstream while wearing concrete shoes and a weighted vest. And then one day the weights finally fell off, the current shifted and I was coasting freely, lightly, and happily with my diagnosis. It didn’t happen overnight, but it DID in fact happen in time.

To those naysayers that think celiac is the end-all of life as you know it, I have to say:
You know what? You adjust. You try new things. You learn to cook more and order take-out a lot less.  You learn to rely much more on yourself and a lot less on others. But you also learn to share your new-found knowledge with others.

I think a good portion of the population assumes gluten-free means tasteless, dry and not fit for human consumption. But time and time again I find that they are surprised to find that gluten-free actually tastes GOOD.

I host dinner a lot when it comes to social gatherings with friends and family, and since I run a pretty tight ship my meals are always GF across the board. And time and time again, the naysayers are pleasantly surprised at how good everything can taste. Homemade bread, salad, steamed veggies and baked ziti are often quick and easy staples for a group meal, and more often than not, guests are going for seconds and thirds, and I am left with VERY few leftovers.

Sometimes I bring in gluten-free goodies for the office, and time and time again people are pleased and surprised that the GF Oreos or cupcakes actually taste better than “real” ones. It actually makes me feel pretty good at the end of the day when I can “trick” someone with GF fare and reveal the “big secret” once all is consumed.

Gluten-free does not equal a culinary death sentence.  If anything, it expands the palate and makes you experiment and try new things. And you know what? Now many of my friends and family embrace the “dark side” of gluten-free, and some actually prefer it over ordinary fare. That is pretty significant, and means that GF is actually NOT the equivalent of eating food made from a 3-D printer (and yes, apparently that idea is in the works, and no thank you I won’t try it!).

And one of the most common things I hear these days when the “Big Reveal” is made is “WOW, I can’t believe it’s gluten-free!” Well well well! Take THAT Culinary Cynics! Surprise, Gastronomic Gourmands! And a big Nelson-Muntz “Ha ha!” to the Epicurean Elitists! Imagine that…gluten-free does NOT suck! You certainly won’t know that until you try it for yourself. And while my life DOES depend on it, I still enjoy it immensely and I love being able to share it with others…especially knowing my body is finally thriving rather than dying a slow and agonizing death.

Don’t knock it ’till you try it, folks.

What gluten-free food have you shared with others that they were pleasantly surprised WASN’T GF? How did it make you feel?

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