I have recently had a friend come to me and ask to help her to go gluten-free. More accurately, she knew that she needs to be gluten-free and knows, in many ways, how to be gluten-free, but she asked for help keeping her accountable. She is already helping me to be accountable in another aspect of my health: exercise. She also knows that learning about gluten could be even more important than taking care of herself because she has a son (a huge concern of mine I have briefly discussed before). I suppose helping someone along this path is as much about instructing as it is about anticipating their needs. In that regard, I have already stumbled. She has learned the hard way that oatmeal isn’t safe.
I believe that everyone deserves to be the best versions of themselves. For many of us, that goal takes years of discovery before we can even take the first step toward molding ourselves into who we want to be.
Going without gluten is hard. A lot of you guys know this fact first hand. Others can think: Would I really want to never be able to eat soft bread again? Do I want to have a special birthday cake or no cake at all? [Full disclosure: Yesterday was my birthday, and I had no cake. It’s still a bit of a sore subject.] How do I explain to a child who wants to share their snack with me that I can’t, not I won’t? No doubt, a lot of people have these concerns about more or other things than gluten. We are not alone in this fight. I never wanted to be Celiac. The first time I ever heard of it, I thought, “I am SOOOO glad that isn’t me!”
Accountability is the funny part that we almost never talk about. We want to be accountable, don’t we? We want to do right by ourselves. Where is the disconnect in our brains that even allows us to not be good to ourselves? Why is the desire to cheat so hard to fight — especially at the beginning — when we know we will only hurt from it? Eventually, we grow. We associate the foods which tempt us the most with the hurt they create, and we no longer truly want them. At the start, we don’t have that. We have the words, but we haven’t built it into our brains. It’s not hard-wired yet.
I have some questions for you Celiac and gluten-free folks out there: Did you have a gluten-free coach? Did a friend, family member, co-worker help you establish your new life with food? Did you ask a lot of “stupid” questions?
While I had a supportive family and an understanding fiance/husband, I was on my own when I learned about gluten. I wish I had had a guide to help me navigate. I am a researcher by nature and by trade, so I used books and the internet to get me through it until I felt knowledgeable enough to start cooking and baking for myself again (i.e. until I was confident enough to try). How did you do it? Have you ever helped someone through a similar situation, maybe with another allergen?