"First, I have to tell you how very sorry I am to have to deliver this news..."
You'd think I was about to be told I have days to live, and I thought "Oh come on. I can live without gluten, don't be so dramatic!"
Then he pulled out 4 pages of big thick black lines.
And my jaw dropped. And he started ticking off all of the things I could no longer eat. Eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk/any dairy, beef, wheat, gluten, rye, barley because it has gluten, peanuts, almonds, red grapes, avocados, navy beans, kidney beans, some squash, ginger, turmeric and he paused with this one...GARLIC!
He went on to explain that some of the foods in the moderate category I could reintroduce later, but the stuff in the red I would never tolerate again. Never again to have eggs cheese or garlic. No more beef. Ever.
So then the negotiations come in to play: but I have a bunch of avocados, can I eat those then get rid of them? So I decided I would try to finish off the food in my house before starting on this allergy thing. He gave me his blessing to do that but urged me to start soon. Then he paused and told me to prepare for the mourning phase.
I mean I understood mourning as I recently lost my mom and was feeling it with that. But for food? Yes, he said, for food. He then told me it is common to feel depressed and that I will be in mourning for the food I ate. I didn't really believe him.
Then I got home.
I went through my cupboards and fridge. I obviously had some shopping to do and a lot of food to give away. Bread was the least of it. I had a huge beef tenderloin in the freezer, cans of soups, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayo, all my gluten filled things I was ready for. The egg garlic and dairy I wasn't! I sat down and realized I couldn't eat everything first because all this food would last for months. So I decided that the next day I would clean out my cupboards and fridge.
The next day I got my heavy duty shopping bags out and I started loading. Bag after bag after bag. Goodbye my beloved soy sauce! Goodbye garlic chili sauce. Goodbye kosher pickles! I called my ex and had him come pick it up. Then I looked around and I had hardly anything in my cupboards left. Tuna. Chicken. Beans. I was starting to feel it. I was starting to feel lost.
So I decided to go shopping and get new food. I went to the gluten free section. Garlic, garlic, garlic. Navy beans, beef, milk, butter, eggs, cheese....there was NOTHING I could eat. I stood in the aisle and literally threw my hands up and felt like I was going to start crying. A tear escaped and my face was hot. I had to get out of there.
I had no idea how I was going to be able to pull this off. I then realized that everything I ate was going to have to be homemade. Now consider that I was still so very exhausted from having such a toxic system, I could not imagine being able to do this.
So yes, I was in mourning. Very much so. Life just got a whole lot harder. I needed a plan. I needed something to help me out. I decided to be thankful that I've always been a curious and experimental cook, then I started going through books and recipes to get ideas. Then I did the one thing that helped me the most. I made a list! Not a list of what I couldn't have but a list of the things I could have. That included things from individual foods to full on dishes of things I could make. Then when I got stuck, I could look at that list for help.
At first I made a lot of chili and gluten free spaghetti. I also ate a lot of chicken salad. It gets old after awhile but that would then inspire me to try something new. Over time I found that I was feeling better. I initially couldn't find a bread without eggs, so one day after work I decided to make my own. I went to the store and bought my supplies and when I got home I decided to make it. Then it hit me. I HAD ENERGY! I actually felt like I could do this, at last!
9 months later I have found a lot of go to foods, but yes, it is still hard sometimes. There are days I contemplate grabbing a burger and just suffering the consequences, but then I remember how crappy I feel after a slight bit of hidden allergen, and I think again.
One thing I now know for sure. My mom wasn't just allergic to gluten. She had a lot more that she was allergic to that she was never tested for. And that is partly why I'm writing this. So that if someone stumbles upon this, maybe they will realize they need to look at more than just gluten. That's generally just the tip of the iceberg.