Grace

Apparently, I am a horrible blogger. If you believe that blogging means actually writing and posting that is. I haven’t posted in almost a year! I honestly can’t believe it.

Why? Well, I have a million excuses. Mainly, I have been trying to raise 2 kids (one under 2), run a business, cook at least twice a day, manage to clean my house once in a blue moon, keep up with friends and family and take a shower each day. It’s a lot. By the time I have a moment to myself at the end of a day, my Celiac brain is usually mush.

The other shameful reason is that I haven’t believed in myself. I’ve let my own insecurities and anxieties get in the way of my purpose. By nature I am a competitive person. I never realized it until much later in life because I was never an athlete or involved in many activities when I was younger. So it has manifested itself in my career, my relationships and in this blog. There are so many amazing bloggers out there and I’ve spent so much of the past year feeling like I couldn’t live up to what they have to offer. I’ve had a hard time feeling like I have a voice that needs to be heard. They have more followers, cool merchandise and people love what they have to say. I let that get inside my head and doubt what I have to offer. If I feel I can’t excel in something I just don’t do it at all. That’s pretty sad. And it’s not fair to any of you or to myself.

My absolute favorite blogger/writer in the whole world is The Gluten Free Girl. And it honestly has nothing to do with the fact that she is a Celiac and sometimes writes about gluten free food. That may be what first brought me to her. Her book The Gluten Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back was the first book I read after being diagnosed. And it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. But what has kept me coming back to her over the years is her spirit, her voice. She writes with such Grace. In my eyes she is one of the most successful people I can think of. And I don’t measure her success by the number of readers and comments to her blog or the number of books she has written and sold. Her success is in the way that she lives her life truly, madly and freely. Read just a couple of her posts and you will see what I am talking about.

What is amazing to me is how she sometimes writes of her own insecurities. She too gets bogged down by worrying if people will read and like her blog. Will her new book sell? Do people judge her? I know we all have these fears in us. But seeing a woman I so admire admit her own was very eye opening for me. I would love more than anything to be able to write the way that she does. You can literally feel her breath and hear her voice in her words. It’s like she reaches out, puts her hand over your heart, smiling her friendly smile and makes you weep for the memories and emotions she has stirred. All of that and she sometimes wonders if she is good enough.

I look at the bits of her life that she shares and I often wish for what she has. She lives in a beautiful part of the world in a small town where people know your name. Where the sky meets the water and the world is full of the most perfect blues and grays. She is surrounded by love and laughter, good friends and a passion for life, family and food. She doesn’t seem to miss the small, significant moments that so many of us take for granted.

Well, I think it is time I stop looking at everyone else and worrying that I won’t measure up. It’s time I start looking around and finding the beauty and Grace in my own life. Focusing on those small seemingly insignificant moments that years from now will be what it was really all about. I’m going to listen to my own words and start living truly, loving madly and eating freely. I hope that you will be there with me, finding your own Grace and feeling that maybe you aren’t so alone after all.

I may never have thousands of followers. I may never have a book or be an award winning blogger. But I am going to continue on. I’m going to put myself out there, spilling my words on this page. I hope that I help people. I hope that I am always genuine and speak from the heart. The words will be enough.

Good Grub Subs…Gluten Free Sub Sandwiches

 

That’s right, you heard me. That’s not a type-o. Gluten Free Sub Sandwiches!! What are the first things you mourn after finding out you have to go gluten free? For most people it’s pizza and beer and SUBS! No more Subway, no more Firehouse. There is just nothing like a good juicy Italian sub full of ham, salami, pepperoni, Provolone cheese and Italian dressing. And when I was diagnosed and trying to come to grips with everything, I went back for that delicious Firehouse Italian sub “one last time” for about 6 months!

So when I started to hear rumors of a local sub shop serving gluten free subs I knew it must be too good to be true. When I googled “gluten free subs Atlanta”, Good Grub Subs popped up. And, to my extreme delight, I found out that they aren’t even 8 miles from my house! I had no excuse not to hop in the car and give them a try. I loaded up the hubby and the kid and we took off for lunch.

Right when you walk in you can tell that the ordering experience here is a little different than you are used to. To the first timer it may look overwhelming. But the staff is very helpful and will come around the counter to help you if you’ve never been in before. Along the wall as you come in is the sandwich board and underneath are a bunch of laminated menus filed under different headings…soups & wraps, veggie subs &wraps, specialty subs & wraps, salads, kids and of course gluten free. You choose your menu, take one of the dry erase markers and check the items you would like including any sandwich toppings. It might seem labor intensive but I think it makes the whole process much easier. You can order at your own pace and not worry about shouting out what you want while hovering over the counter.

The absolute best thing about this place is the level of care that they put into preventing any cross contamination for Celiacs. The owner’s father has Celiac so they are very educated on the dangers of cross contact. If you or someone in your party orders from the gluten free menu they will prepare that sandwich first. They change their gloves and prepare everything on an entirely separate counter with completely separate ingredients. So, note, they are not just changing their gloves and dipping into the same meats and cheeses. They have completely separate meats and cheeses that are only for the gluten free sandwiches! They use all Boar’s head meats and cheeses. The bread they use is a secret but I know the owner would tell you if you come in and ask. I do know the vendor they use and the bread is some of the best I’ve had. It’s completely gluten free and 100% safe. They do currently toast the sandwiches in the same oven with gluten filled bread. However, they use a fresh piece of tin foil with every gluten free order so your sandwich never touches the rack. They will be investing in a separate oven soon. Once your sandwich is complete, wrapped up and handed to you they will begin the rest of the orders. This process does take a little longer than just running into Subway and leaving 3 minutes later. But it is worth every bit of the time it takes.

Good Grub might be a little out of the way for most people outside of Forsyth County. But, I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed in making the drive. I literally cried the first time I ate there. I was so excited to not only be eating a sub sandwich, but one that tasted REAL! It tasted just like that Firehouse sub I loved and missed so much. Only better.

It is now one of our favorite places to eat. We have recently switched my 8 year old son over to the gluten free diet. For a child, this is especially hard. But we can go to Good Grub and he doesn’t even notice the difference in the bread. He loves the way the menu system is set up because it makes him feel grown up and he can place his own custom order. The owner Alan and his staff are always friendly and remember us whenever we come in. They talk to us like old friends and I watch as they talk and laugh with all of their customers. This is a great family owned business that I truly believe in. We need more people like Alan that are taking the right, safe steps to offering gluten free meals to the public. They would love to expand and open a new more centralized location one day. But it’s going to take loyal customers to support their business and show them that the gluten free community is active and can move mountains.

Good Grub is located at 5905 Atlanta Hwy, Ste 104 Alpharetta, Ga. 30004. All but 2 of their sandwiches are available gluten free. They also have the occasional gluten free milkshake and some of their salads are also gluten free. If you are ordering a salad you will need to specify that you need it to be gluten free. That way they will pull your meats and veggies from the dedicated gluten free counter. They also have a couple of brands of gluten free potato chips and currently have a huge assortment of Lucy’s gluten free cookies in individual sized bags. Please treat yourself and take a little trip to Alpharetta this weekend. Tell them I sent you ;)

Dear Friends & Family,

 

If you are one of the lucky ones and your friends and family get it and support you 100%, then I am jealous!  You are blessed. From what I’ve personally experienced and what I’ve read of others experiences, it’s not always so easy. It boggles my mind that one little word can be so hard for people to understand. Gluten. “What is gluten?” Isn’t that the dreaded question you wait for when you tell someone you have Celiac disease and can’t eat gluten? If only there was one simple answer that we could give. But because Celiac disease is so complicated and far reaching giving a simple answer is sometimes mis-informative.

Most people think.. “Oh, you can’t have wheat. No bread or pizza for you.”  UGH! That statement is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. If only it were that easy! But it’s not. So then you have to sit and explain for them all of the ingredients and ingredient derivatives that you have to look for and worry about.  Not to mention trying to convey cross contamination to them. It’s often too much for people to understand.

There are different camps on this dilemma as with anything. Some people will just say tell them you can’t eat gluten, smile and move on. Others, like me, really think it’s our duty to educate people. If they think something is gluten free just because they don’t see wheat as an ingredient, then we are all in danger of being fed something that is poisonous to us.

I have devised a letter to help you out. Hopefully this will give you a way to explain things to your own friends and family.

I do also want to clarify that for the most part I try to be a positive person. All of these things that I am sharing recently are an important part of the healing process. It’s important to point out the realities that most of us face. If you are feeling down, angry or hopeless it is totally normal and you are not alone. You never have to be alone. Once we get through the hard parts, then we can figure out how to deal with the obstacles and get to the other side. You just can’t  jump the fence before you are ready.

My open letter…

“Dear Friends and Family,

If you are reading this, then please know you are someone very important in my life. That is why I am sharing something that is very hard, sad and challenging for me. I need your help. I also need you to be open to the information I’m going to share. It may be confusing and foreign to you. It was to me when I first found out. But, with your help, I hope to have a bright and wonderful future full of love, happy memories and great meals.

I have Celiac Disease.

What IS that?

By medical definition Celiac disease is a chronic digestive disorder in which damage to the lining of the small intestine leads to the malabsorption of minerals and nutrients.

  • The destruction of the inner lining of the small intestine in Celiac disease is caused by an immunological (allergic) reaction to gluten.
  • Gluten is a family of proteins present in wheat, barley, malt, rye, and sometimes oats.

What is gluten in?

Almost EVERYTHING!! Unfortunately it’s not as simple as looking at a label and not seeing the word gluten. Gluten is not just one little ingredient. It is MANY!  Anything that is processed has a chance of containing gluten because it is so overused in this day and age. Gluten can hide in terms such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, malt, vinegar (certain kinds can contain gluten), dextrin, modified food starch, Bulgar, kamut, semolina, farina, smoke flavoring, natural flavors (try to find a processed food that doesn’t contain this one!) And this is only an eighth of the list!  Sadly, sometimes even if a product says “gluten free”, it’s really not. At least for a Celiac. There is currently no law for gluten free labeling. So, irresponsible companies are allowed to label foods as such with no repercussions. Oy vey

How do you know if something is gluten free?

I do a LOT of research. As in, almost every day of my life I am looking something up to make sure it is safe for me or my family to eat. There are many safe companies out there but it takes a lot of work on my part. I send e-mails and make phone calls all the time to verify ingredients and the manufacturing processes of companies. It’s not always as easy as putting the right question into a google search. I have my smartphone with me at all times so I can look up every item that I am about to put in my shopping cart.

Why do you have to check manufacturing processes?

Because, even if a product has no gluten containing ingredients in it, that product could have been made on the same equipment with other products that DO contain gluten. That “gluten free” product is now contaminated. I cannot eat it. If one speck of the gluten manufactured in the other product makes it into my mouth it will make me sick.

Sick.. how?

Well, I am one of the many Celiac sufferers that does not have an immediate severe reaction to gluten. Not one that you can see anyway. This is almost more harmful than a Celiac that has an immediate response. Why? Because it takes me a little longer to know that I have been “glutened” and I don’t always know what it was that got me. Many Celiac sufferers have immediate and extreme intestinal symptoms, migraines, vomiting, and dizziness. The list goes on and on. For me, a day or so after I have been “glutened”  I will feel like I am slipping into a coma. My body becomes slow and unresponsive. I get so extremely tired that I can barely function. I have extreme anxiety that I cannot place and I am in a horrible mood. I cry at the drop of a hat and if you are within 10 feet of me you will probably feel my wrath. My anxiety is on high and my anger is uncontrollable. It can take me several days to recover. Recently when I’ve been “glutened” I’ve started to have more severe reactions than before. I’ve started slurring words to the point that a couple of times I thought I was having a stroke. Not fun! Many people will suffer horrible pain for weeks. And though I may feel better after a few days, the damage is still occurring inside my body for a very long time. Just because you cannot see my pain on the outside does not mean that my body is not being slowly destroyed on the inside.

So gluten just makes you feel bad right? Then can’t you cheat once in a while, enjoy having meals with us and eat the things we make for you? That’s really the polite thing to do.

Well, I guess that would seem polite, right? And if I put a little arsenic in your coffee every day it wouldn’t really kill you right away. You might feel a little yucky but hey, if that’s how I make my coffee you really should drink it so as not to hurt my feelings. Sounds ridiculous and callous right? Well, that’s how it sounds to me when you ask if I can just eat a little gluten right now. Gluten is like arsenic to me. A slow poison that will eventually kill me if I continue to eat it. Even a little bit. A crumb will do enough damage that it will take months to heal.

Why it’s NOT ok for me to have just a little, just this once….

The symptoms of Celiac disease can range from mild weakness, bone pain, and aphthous stomatitis to chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and progressive weight loss. If a person with the disorder continues to eat gluten, studies have shown that he or she will increase their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by a factor of 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. Further, gastrointestinal carcinoma or lymphoma  develops in up to 15 percent of patients with untreated or refractory Celiac disease. It is therefore imperative that the disease is quickly and properly treated. The big “C” is just not something I wanna mess with.

As you can see, this is serious stuff. This is not a fad diet I am on to help me lose weight (because obviously that’s not happening). It’s not “cool” to be gluten free even if that’s what you see in the media. Just because a celebrity does it, it does not make my disease any less deadly or real.

Are people going to think I’m crazy? Do waiters roll their eyes at me when I have to ask a million questions at restaurants? Will I have to go without eating when there is no safe food available? Will I have to bring my own food to your parties and dinners? Will there be places that I cannot eat anymore? Will I have to decline invitations sometimes?

Yes

Does that mean I don’t want to be asked to events anymore? Does it mean everything will center around me and what I have to eat? Does it mean that I can never eat out again? Will the food at my house taste weird?

No

Just because I have to be careful of everything I eat doesn’t mean that I want to stop living. I still want to be involved in all of the same social events as before. And it doesn’t mean that I expect you to cater to me. In fact, it is much safer and easier for me to bring my own food. As amazing as it is that you might want to cook for me, it is a scary thing. And what I have to do to stay safe may offend you. I have to inspect every ingredient you use to see if there is any hidden gluten. I have to check on the butter, cheese, mustard, mayo, dressing, spices, even nuts can be dusted in wheat flour! Anything made in a manufacturing plant CAN contain gluten. I also have to worry about the meat bought at certain grocery stores because they have a disclaimer that says some of the meat may be contaminated with gluten within the butcher area. I would have to know what type of pan you cooked it in because surfaces like cast iron harbor hidden gluten like crazy. I have to worry about your cutting boards, scratched up cookware and even your knives. Cross contamination is a constant worry.

I know it seems like I am being over the top. But believe me when I tell you, I’m not. I would not choose to have to go through this if it weren’t 100% MEDICALLY necessary.

Please don’t take this as my way of saying that I never want you to try. Because, if I have friends and family that are willing to make me a safe gluten free meal I will count myself as truly blessed. Please understand that it will break my heart if I can’t eat what you’ve made because it might have an uncertain ingredient in it. It will break my heart, but I still can’t eat it.  I can’t do it just so that I don’t hurt your feelings. If I do that, then I am only hurting myself…in ways that the medical field cannot even 100% understand yet.

Thank you for making the effort to understand. I am happy to answer any and all of your questions. In fact, your questions show me that you do in deed care and want to know what is going on with me. I apologize now if anything I ever say or do offends you. I do not mean to. It is scary what I have to deal with sometimes. And I have to keep myself safe. I want to be around for a long, long time so that I can also support you in anything that you need from me. Now, let’s eat! “

No matter where you are in your journey, you are going to have to deal these issues over and over again. There is simply not enough education or understanding out there. Feel free to use this letter if you need it. I hope it helps!

 

nonchalant

Nonchalant (nnsh-länt) adj. Seeming to be coolly unconcerned or indifferent

This has always been one of my favorite words. Ever since I first read it in a Sweet Valley High book when I was 11.  It just sounded so elegant and french. I’ve been dropping it into conversation ever since.
It perfectly describes how I’ve been acting over the past 3 years. At the time it didn’t feel like I was being nonchalant. But looking back, my lack of 100% compliance and diligence with the “diet” was equal to being indifferent. The treatment for this disease is all or nothing and it makes nonchalant a dirty word.
As I have said many times already and will continue to say til my last breath, it’s a journey. Everyone’s journey is different and nobody else can tell you the path to take. We can only show you the road we have travelled and the twists and turns that made us stumble. Maybe then you can adjust your own path to be a little easier to traverse.
I can’t be nonchalant about my health and what I put into my mouth anymore. I can’t go to a restaurant with a gluten free menu and assume that all is safe as I have done in the past. I can’t just buy every product with a gluten free label and believe that I will not face an internal attack. It is my responsibility to verify and triple check anything that I consume. It’s my job to call that restaurant and speak to a manager to verify how they avoid cross-contamination in their kitchen. I have to alert my waiter to the fact that I need to eat gluten free. I must e-mail every company whose uncertified gluten free products I buy and investigate what type of manufacturing practices they follow. We must be just as vigilant about the possibility of cross-contamination as we are about the gluten free ingredients.
And we must have a voice. I have always been a shy person. Pre-diagnosis (and when I was cheating) I had severe social anxiety issues. I could not even face going to my son’s school orientations without having a panic attack and trying to figure out how to get out of it. It was crippling. I know it was due to gluten because the difference in me is remarkable. So, it was very hard for me to learn to ask questions and speak up.
There is so much ignorance out there about Celiac disease and what gluten free really means. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to eat out somewhere with a gluten free menu where the server had never even heard of gluten free. In fact, yesterday I was at a place where I asked the line cook about the gluten free choices and he said he didn’t know what I was talking about. All the while I am staring at the HUGE gluten free sign hanging right behind him. It made me so angry. And I had to realize that it wasn’t his fault. It was the fault of the owners and managers for not properly training their staff. It was the fault of a cooperation making such a bold statement and not having the social responsibility to back it up.
So, it’s our responsibility to educate everyone. If you are afraid to speak up and ask questions then you are keeping this disease locked away in a secret closet and nobody will ever see its ugliness. People need to see it. They need to know how dangerous gluten is to a Celiac. They need to understand that it goes beyond ingredients and they need education about safe food handling. If doctors can’t even diagnosis us then we certainly can’t expect a waiter to know anything about our disease. Teach them. Speak up and speak kindly and with patience. Show others that we are a passionate and caring community. Leave a big tip so that they will remember that going the extra step will benefit them as well.
It’s Celiac Awareness month. Make others aware! Tell your story. Contact at least one company and ask them about their manufacturing process. Put a bug in someone’s ear. Call a local restaurant and ask the manager about a gluten free menu and if they don’t have one tell them why they should. Be an activist. Don’t be nonchalant. It kills.

the good, the bad and the really, really ugly

Let’s get real for a minute. This post is not going to be pretty and I’m going to show my ugly side for a moment. Because we all have one and I’ve made a promise to myself to be as genuine as I can be. So, here goes…
Celiac disease sucks!! I HATE IT! It is nasty and sneaky and ugly. It takes away your freedom. It takes away your spontaneity. It can scare away your friends. It can separate you from your family. It isolates you. It makes you crazy.  At least everyone will think you are.
I’m not here to tell you that dealing with Celiac disease will be a walk in the park. I’m here to be honest with you. And I hope that I will make you realize that you are in fact not alone. There is at least one other person in the world that feels what you feel. Someone else knows how hard it is. Another person is also struggling. Maybe I’m a little bit further along in my struggle and you can learn from my mistakes. That is my sincere hope.
There are days when I want to crawl up into the fetal position and cry myself to sleep. Before diagnosis, I was the ultimate food adventurer. In fact it’s one of the only areas in my life where I am adventurous. I am scared of heights, flying, going too fast, public speaking, escalators, spiders…you get the picture. But what I’m not afraid of is food. I love food. I love trying new flavors. I am not afraid to try something I might not like. I’m excited to say that I tried it.
Celiac has taken that amazing fearless part of me and made her afraid. Celiac has made me its bitch. It has made me want to cower in a corner. I can no longer dip my fork into the plate of my dining companion. I cannot take the bite that is offered to me. I cannot grab the bread bowl and share in the moment.
I hate this disease. I hate that people think this is some kind of “fad” diet. As if I would do this willingly! I hate that most of my family has no clue what I am going through. And they don’t want to take the time to find out. I hate that they keep offering me bread and cake and pie and saying that just one time won’t hurt me!! I hate when I go to a restaurant with a “gluten free” menu  the server has no idea what gluten free is!
I hate you Celiac!! I f&%#ing HATE you!!! I want to punch your face in the face! I hate that I can’t eat what I want when I want! I hate that I can’t have Pizza Hut pizza with my little boy when he has a sleepover. I hate that I have to wait hours to eat when I’m starving because I didn’t have time to pack a lunch and there are no safe options nearby. I hate that I can’t eat at every new cool foodie spot that opens because they don’t care about being gluten free. I hate that when I order grilled nuggets at Chic-Fil-A and I forget to check the bag until I get home they always give me the breaded nuggets. It makes me have a complete nervous breakdown. I hate that I can’t eat at arts festivals because funnel cakes and gyros don’t fly with my belly. I hate that I can’t eat my Granny’s dumplings, my PawPaw’s cornbread and my mom’s fried chicken. I HATE YOU CELIAC!! DO YOU HEAR ME?!! I HATE YOU!!
Whew… well that feels a little better.
Yes, it could be worse. I could have an immediately life threatening disease or disability. I am so blessed that I don’t. But Celiac can be life threatening if it’s untreated. Or often, once we are finally diagnosed most of us are suffering from several other autoimmune disorders. Even with that, I am still very blessed. And believe me, I do my best to thank God every day for everything that I do have. I have so much. But Celiac still sucks. I still have the right to take a moment and tell you how bad it sucks. To tell you how much I hate it. Because, if I didn’t I would be robbing myself of the opportunity to purge these feelings. Then they would fester. I would feel alone and I would never succeed. I’ve spent the last 3 years failing and it’s time to start over. It’s time to build a new life.
What’s the point of all of this rambling? To tell you that you are not alone. To tell you that it is ok to say bad things, to feel sorry for yourself, to take a moment and be depressed. Take the time you need. Curl up into a ball and sulk. Snap at everyone that tries to make you feel better. Stomp your feet and pitch a fit. You deserve it. You were given a crappy hand. Take the time, feel the pain, wallow in your own self pity. And then… open the windows and let the light in. Embrace how this can change you in an amazing way. Make new gluten free friends. Discover how true friends will stand beside you and support you in what might be your darkest hour. Find your voice. Look forward to a longer life with a healthier you.
As much as I hate Celiac I have to be thankful for what it has given me. I am finding my voice. A voice that was quiet and afraid to speak for most of my life. I truly believe I have this disease for a reason. My whole life I have wanted to make a difference somehow. And this is the one way I know that I can. I know what I’m talking about because I am living it each and every day. I always say that if I can reach one other person then I am doing what I’m meant to do.
I would love for you to leave comments and share your own feelings on the subject. What’s the worst part of diagnosis for you?

Granny’s Dumplings

I never got to say goodbye to my Granny’s dumplings. Celiac took them away from me. I wish I could have them one last time without suffering the damage they would do to my body. They are hands down the most comforting food in the world to me. I miss them so much. Her dumplings are filled with so much love and history. Everyone in my family begs for them. They are a staple at every holiday or special occasion. They are perfect for a cold and rainy day. They warm you right down to your toes. They are filled with gluten. They are poison to me now.

My Granny has been making them my whole life. She cooks them in the same kitchen that she has cooked in for 50+ years. It’s tiny and dark and old. Yet, somehow it’s the brightest spot on Earth. It’s the place where memories are made and love is shared.

Dumplings are such a simple, country dish. If you aren’t from the South you will have no idea what I’m talking about or what you’re missing. It’s worth the trip. We just call them dumplings instead of chicken and dumplings because the chicken is only a supporting cast member. These are gooey, doughy dumplings (biscuits) in a thick creamy broth.

My Granny starts by making a huge pot of homeade chicken stock, using the same beat up cheap metal pot that she’s always had. When the stock is ready she removes the whole chicken, shreds the meat and puts a about a quarter of it back into the pot. Then she opens up a few cans of biscuits and starts to pinch off tiny little pieces one by one. She drops them into the stock until the pot is full. She adds salt and pepper and stirs, and stirs and stirs. It’s a process and I’m not even sure how long it takes for everything to cook. Time flies when I’m standing in the kitchen with her. All I know is that when it’s done it’s thick and velvety and tastes of heaven. I wish I had a picture to show you but I was too sad to ask her to cook them for a photo. I’m not there yet.

It’s my favorite dish in the world. When you break it down it’s really nothing special. Canned biscuits in chicken broth. But it’s become so much more than those simple ingredients. It’s everything that it reminds me of and makes me feel. When I ate them I felt at home. They remind me of the way my Granny would always scratch my back as I laid in her lap as a little girl. She would do it for hours it seemed. She would scratch and scratch until she thought I was asleep. Then I would start to wiggle so she would know I was still awake. So she would scratch and scratch some more, never complaining of tired hands.They remind me of how she always smells of Oil of Olay and rose petals. Of the way she wears curlers in her hair every night. Or how I would huddle with her and my Paw Paw around the one floor vent in the entire house on cold mornings. And most of all they remind me of how much I am loved, of laughter and tradition.

I mourn them. Yes, they are food and not people. But doesn’t it feel sometimes as if you are losing a loved one? I love to cook and I have been able to recreate so many of my favorite dishes to be gluten free and still yummy. But there is no possible way that I will ever be able to make those dumplings again. I really don’t even want to try and face the disappointment.

It IS ok to mourn the food you loved. You need to. If you don’t, you will always be tempted by it. I speak from experience. You have to say goodbye in whatever way works for you. I will say that having a food “one last time” did not work well for me. I just wanted to have it one more time and one more time after that and one more time after that. Having it again just made it harder to let it go. Food is not just for nourishment. It’s for enjoyment, for memories, for showing and sharing love. Some of our favorite foods have been there with us during the most special times in our lives.

My Granny shows and shares her love through food. I think I got that from her. I just made a trip to Alabama to see her and my Paw Paw this week. It was hard because they are true Southern cooks. Dumplings, cornbread, fried chicken, apple pie. That is all they know. She kept asking me if she could make me something and I had to decline everything she offered. It was not only hard for me, but I could see it was hard for her too. She didn’t feel like she was taking care of me the way she should because she couldn’t feed me. I think it made her feel disconnected.

Almost 3 years after diagnosis, it’s still a process for us. I’m still mourning those dumplings and so many other family favorites. But I will always have the memory of them. And I still have my Granny who will always smell of Oil of Olay and rose petals. I can squeeze her tight, close my eyes and taste the love in that dish. I can watch as she feeds my children and see the proof that life comes full circle.

What food do you miss the most?

My next post will discuss a little more in length about dealing with friends and family after diagnosis. It’s a rough road and we all need a little support. Stay tuned!

living gluten free in the ATL

My name is Christy and I have Celiac Disease. Please take a few minutes to read MY STORY. My hope is that it will touch you somehow. Maybe you have a similar story. Maybe you have a family member that you are trying to understand a little better. Or maybe you just need a good read. Whatever the case may be I hope that you will keep coming back and share in my experiences as a wife, a mother, a photographer and as someone living gluten free in the ATL.