The last 32 days have gone by surprisingly quickly. I say surprising because I expected this gluten-free thing to be really hard. Yet it's been relatively easy and in many ways, a lot of fun. Turns out it's not that big a deal at all. Anyone could do it.
Yeah right. I would eat those words if I wasn't afraid they might be contaminated with gluten.
This weekend was the first time my gluten-free diet became difficult for me. It was my little sister's college graduation and I had to travel to Minnesota. I thought I was prepared. I brought my own little breakfast baggies (Barbara's Puffin cereal with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds), assuming my sister wouldn't have gluten-free cereal miraculously on hand. I brought some extra sunflower seeds in case I needed a snack. I almost bought some gluten-free snack bars, but I was turned away by the price. I don't need you, expensive bars, I told them huffily. (And silently. I wouldn't want the other shoppers to see me talking to the food.) I had everything I needed, right? I could figure out a way to eat at every meal without making things difficult for anyone else, right?
Uh huh....not so much.
First of all, my flight was delayed. Instead of arriving in Minnesota at 11:30pm, I got there at 2:30am. By that point I had eaten my first little breakfast baggie, and spent a long time staring forlornly at the vending machine. I remembered seeing online somewhere that M&Ms are gluten-free, so I thought about buying some. But I don't really like M&Ms that much, and I decided the temporary reprieve from boredom wasn't worth the calories. I couldn't be sure if anything else was gluten-free so I sadly walked back to my chair, and waited for the plane to finally arrive.
Okay, so not a big deal. We ended up going out for breakfast one day anyway, so it didn't matter that I had eaten my breakfast early. More difficult were all the get-togethers where I really wasn't sure what I could eat, if anything. My forays into gluten-free internet research have made me aware that gluten can hide in pretty much anything. Salad dressing? Yep. Ketchup? Sometimes. Tea? That too. My gluten-free lifestyle suddenly felt very overwhelming. Especially considering that I wasn't necessarily eating as often as I'm used to, so I wasn't able to regulate myself that well when I did eat.
Thankfully my family was supportive (although my older sister didn't seem pleased at the thought that I might not be able to eat her wedding cake in July). My little sis took me to a grocery store so I could buy some gluten-free cookies for her BBQ. I'm not going to lie. They weren't very good. They were filled with sugar though, and since I was hungry and tired from flying, I ate two boxes of cookies in two days. By myself since no one else wanted the gluten-free cookies when they could have the scrumptious looking chocolate chip cookies sitting on the counter. I was proud of myself though. I looked at those cookies, I might even have smelled them, but I didn't touch.
On my last night, my sister's soccer coach cooked us dinner. He laid out a beautiful table and slaved away while we drank wine and chatted. Nervously, I pulled my mom aside. "I think he's making spaghetti," I whispered. What should I do? I didn't want to break my gluten-free diet, but I didn't want to be rude either. I decided I would eat it because I just couldn't bear the thought of being impolite to someone who was being so nice. It's not like I could say, I'm allergic to gluten, because as far as I know, I'm not. It's just something I've decided to try to see if it makes me feel better. Luckily, there was a nice salad and shepherd's pie to go along with the spaghetti and fresh bread. So I ate the pie and the salad, and considered myself well saved. Crisis averted.
So my thoughts on this weekend? I probably unknowingly ate a lot of food that was contaminated with gluten. So maybe I'm only 90% gluten-free. And traveling was much harder than I thought it would be. I expected this to be the easy trip for the summer. Next month I have a wedding in Ohio, and after that I'm going to San Diego for two weeks for my older sister's wedding. I'll try harder to prepare for those, and maybe this time I'll buy some of those expensive gluten-free bars. But it's not going to be easy, and I'm finding I'm a little less gung ho about being gluten-free.
I have to be honest with you. I'm considering eating my sister's wedding cake.
In the meantime though, I'll continue to eat gluten-free, continue to monitor how I feel to determine if a gluten-free diet is better for me, and continue to experiment with gluten-free cooking. I had a simple lunch today. A quick and easy thai noodle soup. It takes less than 10 minutes to make. Seriously.
Easy Thai Noodle Soup
2 starches, 2 vegetables, 1 protein, 1 fat
1 package Thai Kitchen Instant Rice Noodle Soup (any flavor)
1/4 onion, cut in big pieces
2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen
Using the oil packet from the noodle soup, saute the onion and green beans until tender. Add the noodles, the spice packet, and enough water to just cover the vegetables. The noodles will cook down into the water. Allow the water to come to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes, until the noodles are soft. Pour into a big bowl. Scramble the egg and mix into the soup. Enjoy!