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Wait! Waiter, do you have an hour to take my order?

I have a confession.  I’ve become one of THOSE people.  It’s not a secret, but I just haven’t gone out of my way to blog about it or make it a central conversation with most people in my life.  If it’s come up, then you know.  If it hasn’t come up, I probably didn’t want it to.  I’m still uncomfortable with it.  I think I’ve been in denial.  The time has come to deal with the truth.

I’m an annoying food restricted eater.

There.  I said it.

I suffered for years with digestive issues.  That’s all the detail you will get on that.  Seriously, thank me!  When it got bad enough to warrant several odd and uncomfortable testing sessions I finally learned these things:

I don’t digest fructose well.

I am allergic to wheat and gluten.

I am allergic to eggs.

I am allergic to whey.

I am allergic to a whole list of other odd and less consequential items including, but not limited to: black beans, green beans, mushrooms… okay I have to stop or I’ll cry.

I have been gluten, fructose, and dairy free for over 4 months now and it’s been at least over a month since I’ve had eggs and the rest.  I am now that person who takes an hour to order food.  I’m the annoying person reading the backs of everything at the grocery store, at picnics, and when I pop over and you are munching snacks.  I’m now the person who only brings fruit and veggies to get-togethers and who can’t partake of the glorious buffet of nosh.

This has been overwhelming, mindboggling, sometimes funny (like when the lady at Dunkin Donuts couldn’t seem to understand that skim milk is NOT a milk alternative) but mostly I feel like I have had to quickly become an expert in food, cooking, health, and all things GLUTEN.  Oh, you beast, gluten!   Here is a sampling of the most common conversations I’ve had about it all:

What do you eat?  Meat, veggies, and fruit.  It’s amazing how much you can do with those.  I can’t eat most processed food and obvious sources of dairy or wheat.  There are a lot of gluten-free baked goods now, but throw in the egg allergy and that pretty much screws me.

Have you lost a bunch of weight?  Why?  Did you think I needed to?   Does this limit the amount of “junk food” I can eat?  Yes!  But, since I can eat nuts, dark chocolate, wine, and most corn chips and salsa, trust me… I find enough calories!  I can promise you one thing, I would NEVER have been willing to make these drastic changes to my diet just for 10 pounds of vanity weight.

Gluten free is just a fad though, isn’t it? Maybe.  You should read these two books: Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, and then you can decide for yourself.  Many people are leading much happier, healthier lives after banning gluten from their guts.  However, I’m allergic, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s a fad or not.  Eggs are undeniably a healthy superfood (and super yummy) but I can’t have those either.  Damn it.  Why did you make me admit that again.  Oh, eggs, how I miss thee!!!!

You are so lucky, you are going to be so skinny for sure!  Okay…  Here’s the thing, I gained 20 pounds after my two hip surgeries.  I lost that weight with help from Weight Watchers without completely giving up family recipes and favorites.  I could gain weight easily pounding hamburgers (no buns) and French fries all day.  I still have to make the healthiest choices within my limitations.  Furthermore, read this to know that I’m not tricked by society’s message that only a size 6 is beautiful.  I’m a huge fan of healthy over skinny.

Now what?  Please still invite me over to dinner.  I will just skip your beautiful pasta and have 2 servings of broccoli.  It doesn’t bother me!  I promise!  I still cook regular pasta for my family.  I serve them bread, tortillas, and all of their old favorites.  I won’t have a breakdown at your house over it.  I save that for home and then I eat a bag of corn chips, a milk-free dark chocolate bar and a bottle of wine.  Hmm, ask me again about the weight loss aspect of this…

In all honesty, the biggest reason I haven’t made a bigger deal about my new dietary restrictions is that I don’t want to be excluded from things due to fear that I can’t eat what’s available or that I won’t want to be around food I can’t eat.  This is my new life, whether I like it or not.  I’m surrounded by foods that I can’t eat all day everyday.  Even in my own kitchen.  If you think for a minute that my husband doesn’t polish off ice-cream or bread in front of me then you haven’t seen him eat!

Or, better yet, just invite me out for drinks!

Cheers!

~~Delaney Rhea

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