I don’t usually delve into the serious side of life here on my little corner of the internet. I don’t always talk about real feelings. It’s part of my personality to always put my best foot forward and not show the unglamorous side of life – especially when it comes to living a gluten-free and vegan life. But that’s also not necessarily real. When I go through a rough patch I tend to just stay silent. Don’t write anything, don’t create anything new, don’t post anything. I don’t want the honesty or reality to show through in my writing. I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t want to rock the boat.
I always focus on the positive. I think about how awesome it is to live the way we do. How we are so much healthier than some people we know. How we challenge ourselves and our tastebuds to try new things. I want to focus on those positive things.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some off days, some crappy moments. That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. For four years now I’ve talked minimally about the drawbacks or difficulties we endure living a gluten-free vegan lifestyle. I think that I am unfairly sheltering readers from those very real things. Because I don’t share them I feel like perhaps I’ve been denying that these downsides or negative moments do actually exist. That doesn’t paint a realistic picture to someone new to the journey. That doesn’t seem very fair, does it?
I only show the good but not the bad. That’s totally a defence mechanism. I don’t want to come across like a Negative Nelly or a Complainy Cathy. (I might have made those up. Maybe.)
We went out for a nice dinner out to a favorite restaurant that has always been excellent at accommodating both of our lifestyles. Almost their entire menu is naturally gluten-free. A huge portion of the items are vegetarian and can be made vegan with ease. Their menu states that they will make adjustments for vegan and gluten-free diets along with other allergies. It is really and truly a great restaurant. But accidents do happen. Mistakes can be made. Nobody is perfect. No judgement. Levi ate an appetizer that was brought out that was intended for a different table. The appetizer we ordered was gluten-free. The one we got had something with gluten inside it. Levi had one bite. Just one bite. I took one bite and told him to stop eating. I knew right away something wasn’t right. He stopped eating it. We thought maybe it would be okay. It was just one tiny bite, after all. Unfortunately, within 20 minutes Levi was sick. He had to leave while I waited to get the rest of our order packed up to go. Naturally, our server was completely upset and apologetic and I felt so bad for her. I don’t blame her one bit. Accidents happen. The two appetizers look identical on the outside. How could she know that she brought the wrong one to our table?
I didn’t think much of the situation at first. Then I started to feel a pang of … resentment. I hated myself for that. I felt like a petulant and selfish child who didn’t get her way, who dropped her lollipop in the sand. Then I felt guilty for feeling that way. I never allow myself to think negatively. Then that started driving me crazy. So, I decided I really need to just express myself for once. I promise I won’t do it all the time. Just once in a while.
So, excuse me for a moment while I finally take a moment to share my feelings. My real-life, unedited and honest feelings.
Sometimes it sucks to be abnormal. It sucks that choosing to eat a healthy plant-based and gluten-free diet is not the norm.
Sometimes it’s really difficult to take a break from life and want the convenience of just picking somewhere new to try and not having to call ahead and ask if they have gluten-free items that are also dairy-free and egg-free (for Levi) – oh but not steak because no he can’t have red meat either, and also do they happen to have vegan options too. Usually I thoroughly confuse the wait staff and have to start over.
Sometimes it’s sad when you go to your tried-and-true old standby restaurants that have never disappointed you, and you get disappointed because people are imperfect and mistakes happen.
Sometimes it’s awful to watch your husband get sick in public because he was accidentally glutened while you sit and wait for the rest of your meal to get packed up to go.
Sometimes it’s embarrassing to listen to the people at the next table openly discuss the finer points of why people with food allergies and intolerances should not ever go to public eating establishments while stealing glances at you waiting to get your food packed up to go.
Sometimes you wonder if restaurant owners and servers would just wish you’d stay at home because it’s an awful inconvenience to ask for things to be so specially made.
Sometimes you wonder if it would have just been better to stay at home and cook after a really horrible day rather than try to enjoy a night out as a treat. And sadly it usually is.
Sometimes you contemplate giving up caring about your health and going back to an old way of life that’s much less complicated. (Though knowing full well you could never and would never do such a thing.)
I recognize that I’m writing this as a person who is a partner of someone with Celiac Disease. I’m not the one who actually got sick. I’m fully aware that for how frustrated I feel in situations like these, that Levi probably feels 100x more frustrated and worse. This might seem like I’m picking on the gluten-free part of our lifestyle more and I hope you can believe me when I say that’s not my intent at all. I’m sorry for that Levi (and everyone else who has Celiac Disease or any other gluten intolerance that’s reading this), because I honestly don’t mean it to be an attack at all. Heaven knows I would never ever do that intentionally. I just really felt the need to get it out there.
Living this way is not always easy. For us, after so many years, I honestly and truly feel like for the most part living a healthy and balanced gluten-free and vegan lifestyle is really not that difficult. I find it enjoyable, challenging (in a good way) and exciting. The few moments like these that happen very rarely aren’t so bad in the grand scheme of things, in the big picture, in full scope.
Rather than end on a negative note (as you can tell, it’s really not my style) I do want to share some of the positives I take away from this experience.
It is really empowering to be in charge of your own health. Knowing exactly what to feed our bodies to sustain us not only healthfully but flavorfully as well is something to be very proud of.
For the 99% of the time that our favorite restaurants don’t make mistakes, I am infinitely thankful that they are so willing to accommodate our special dietary requests and do such an amazing job of it.
It’s okay to feel feelings. It doesn’t mean I’m going to rant on here at random or at regular. But I am not going to pretend that life doesn’t have its challenges. I welcome hearing about yours too. After all, sometimes it’s nice to know there are others out there feeling the same feelings we do.
Thanks for listening … if you’re still listening, that is. Tomorrow we return to our regularly scheduled programming – there will be a proper recipe all about summer fun and picnic food.