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Self Care for the Gluten-Free & Angry


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My 7-year-old has it figured out.

Oh, hi guys. It’s been awhile!

I mean, I’ve been cooking, and making mistakes, and eating those mistakes, and posting about them, but it’s been awhile since we’ve talked. So let’s do that for a minute, yes?

Realizing that celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases cross party lines, I know that some of you won’t like my POV. And that’s okay. Yes, I’m here to give advice and give voice to your frustration as someone who can’t enjoy the flaky croissant, or if that’s too French for you, a good old-fashioned dinner roll, anymore. But I’m also a mother, a U.S. citizen, a friend, a daughter, and someone who gives so many damns. Maybe too many damns, but I kind of don’t think that’s possible in this current era of burning everything we know to the ground.

Which brings me to, where I’m at right now. I’m guessing I’m not the only person with health issues who isn’t being too healthy these days. When you live with an autoimmune disease, anything that gets you off track—an amazing vacation, the holidays, or stress—can cause serious problems. I stuffed myself with gluten-free chocolate chip mint cookies and champagne to deal with, and celebrate, all of the above for a few months and woke up in the new year still stressed, plumper, and with seriously high cholesterol. I know I’m not alone here, because another friend just polled our book club on how we’re suffering physically and emotionally after a misogynist, racist, dictator has taken over our country. Turns out, we’re all kind of fucked up right now. 

Usually my answer to those of us who are dealing with multiple stressors is this: Be easy on yourself. Mess up where you have to mess up (see cookies + champagne above). Don’t beat yourself up for not taking the best care during times of serious mental anguish. I still believe these words to be true, but at the same time I’ve realized if I don’t start taking care of myself, and not just trying to comfort myself through delicious, potentially unhealthy, habits, I’m not going to have the energy to stand up and fight for my country, and my family.

SO. If you’re in the same boat, I’d like to share just a few things that I’m doing to help me stay strong and focused, without feeling like I’m deprived of not only gluten, not only equal rights for my gender and general safety in my country, but comfort as well. Here’s what I do:

Start the day off right

img_2103I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, and sometimes getting to my coffee pot is all the effort I can put in before 10 a.m. But juicing a lemon and adding it to a tiny bit of water first thing in the morning should not only help my cholesterol, but it also makes me feel cleansed and puts my head in the right space to enjoy a healthy breakfast. By healthy, I mean either gluten-free whole grains or a protein and vegetable (again, maybe too French for some, but I dig scrambled eggs with wilted greens). Once I’ve started it off in a good way, I’m much more inspired to keep up the good work throughout the day. Which for me means, adding as many vegetables in as I possibly can to keep my body energized and packed full o’ vitamins. And avoiding the grab and go that could not only be bad for my general health, but be contaminated with gluten as well.

Exercise

img_2834Ugh, I fucking hate exercise. HATE. So I’ve started doing little things that help me stay focused on being healthy, without making me curse the day I was born (September 19th, BTW, in case anyone is sending gifts). I recently moved to a neighborhood that is no longer filled with hills, so I’m able to not only take my dog on long walks, but take her on runs. If I’m running with her, I feel like I’m doing something for that little adorable ball of fur, and I get the side benefit of running out the stress. It’s been oddly fun, for a girl who bitched so much about cross-fit she forgot how to learn the proper lift protocols. Find something you enjoy, and doesn’t make you want to throw in the towel after one week. The more you dread it, the more likely you are to skip it. I know. I KNOW how hard it is to keep doing something once you’ve been gluten’d, or or having another outbreak of perioral dermatitis (fuck that shit, too) so consider some sit ups followed by a meditation session just as good as a run with an adorable fox-like dog. Whatever it takes, peeps. Whatever it takes.

Talk It Out

img_2808I can’t go to lunch, my book club, or a professional meeting without joining in a chorus of despair about what the holy hell is going on in our country. My last date night with El Hubso also wound up in a deep discussion about, “Should we flee or fight?” At the same time, joining in a march, getting together with friends, and even talking with a therapist is fantastic for getting your head right and relieving stress. Join a group that’s working on political actions that you can get behind, and spend all that crazy energy on working for justice. Find your people, and look out for each other. Give lots of hugs.

Don’t Give Up

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When all else fails, puppies.

Take it from the woman who actually destroyed her television remotes (oh god, and I LOVE TV), and her favorite new marble table on the late hours of November 8th, we cannot give in to despair. Don’t give up no matter what you see. Don’t give up even if you just ate an entire gluten-free cheesecake and drank a bottle of Pinot Noir and now you’re swollen and feel like shit. Don’t give up even if your best friend from high school is telling you to chill out. Don’t give up even if your dad is ignoring your calls. We’re all human. We all deserve equal respect and opportunity under the law. That’s just being decent, and there should be zero controversy about that position. Own it, live it, defend it.

It’s going to be a long four years, my friends, and we need to stick together. And if you truly don’t understand what the rest of us are freaking out about, ask. We need to communicate, and reach an understanding. It’s a tall order, but I feel like those of us who already deal with the challenge of a chronic illness, are much more likely to spread empathy and understanding.

Let’s do this.

How are you coping?

 

9 thoughts on “Self Care for the Gluten-Free & Angry

  1. It will be interesting to see what a large number of pissed off middle-aged women can achieve.
    And, as a personal goal, I will try to lay off of the GF cupcakes.

    • That may be too heroic, Patricia. I’d start with gluten-free dry cookies, and work your way up. If you want. All this marching and angry phone banking means you need fuel. Cupcake fuel.

  2. Yes, angry and gluten free summarizes me well too. I cannot believe I am so exhausted from his first 10 days (I know, it’s because the whole last year has been a fight, esp. since November)!

  3. A little disappointed. I know this is a blog and you are absolutely welcome to expressing your opinion. I love that we can do that in our country. But… I’m disappointed because I came to this blog after reading your book, “Gluten is my Bitch” and loving it. What I loved most was how you kept pointing out that it is okay to be GF and crazy angry about it at the same time. That made an impact on me because everyone else just harps about: “oh it’s good you finally know what’s wrong”, or “well at least it’s not cancer”, or “all you have to do is not eat something”…. on and on. When people do this I just plain want to punch them. So I’m THAT kind of GF and angry. I read this entry thinking it would be another thing for me to relate to. Instead it was talking about politics.

    Just disappointed that I thought there was a few places safe from political bashing (on both sides) and instead there is this.

    Again, I am fully aware this is your blog and you can say and do what you’d like. Just my humble opinion.

    • I understand that not everyone is going to be on the same page, Mandy. And that some people think “it’s just politics” and aren’t able to summon outrage at the actual damage that is, and will be, happening to people in this country as a result of this election. But I’m a mom, a native Oklahoman who has seen a lot of poverty, and a friend and family member to oppressed populations who have already felt the negative effects of an administration steeped in hate. This is life. This is real.

      Maybe if you had a child who wouldn’t be able to eat lunch because Congress wants to deny nutrition in free school lunches, or Jewish (like my family is) and faced bomb threats to your places of worship and community as well as vandalism and hate, or were trans and were being told that you won’t be protected at your school, or a Muslim who is already receiving threats or was not able to get back into your own country a few weeks ago, or a person of color being shot by the police, or Latinx and are worried about coming home and finding your parents gone, or a woman who is sexually assaulted by a man in power because he knows he can get away with it all the while paying you significantly less than a man in the same job, or (and this, you probably are if you’re reading my book) a person with a pre-existing condition who is in danger of not being insured, and thus going bankrupt—you would also be scared, and angry at what’s going on right now. If none of these apply to you and you don’t see what the big deal is, I’m very sorry for your lack of empathy for other human beings.

      I mean, it doesn’t really seem like finding an amazing recipe for gluten-free cupcakes is quite as important as standing up for those of us in America who will suffer under a mentally unstable man’s regime. It doesn’t mean I won’t still be making them, and talking about them. But I couldn’t in good conscience, not address the collective fear Americans are experiencing as that man and his bigoted supporters take control of our government.

      I appreciate you reading, I’m glad you could relate to my frustration, and it helped you feel not so alone.

      • I was not originally going to respond, however I feel the need.

        First, I would love to point out that in my comment I never attacked your point of view, accused you of anything (other than possible political bashing), and I never stated my opinion on politics. The reason for this is exactly the reason I made the comment. It is because I came to this page looking for comradeship about my Celiac diagnosis that I’ve been living with for three years. I was excited that I had finally found a kindred soul that was also just as angry about it as I was. So I click on a post titled just that and instead get politics.

        As I originally stated, I love that we can speak freely in our country and I’m a proud American. The plain simple truth is you are lashing out at me when you know nothing about me. Saying that I do not have empathy for human beings when all I simply wanted to do was read something not centered around politics for once.

        The difference between you and I is that I truly am accepting of others. This comment alone shows that because you think I feel differently than you do, it gives you a free pass to accuse me of not caring about anyone but myself. The reality is, I did not state how I feel on the subject and do not plan to. I simply said I was disappointed.

        I am sorry that you are obviously so upset about a lot of things I hope you are able to come to terms with that because stress always makes my symptoms worse. I do really hope however, that you are never in the position to have to have empathy for others in your position like I do daily. Good luck in your future endeavors.

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