Mourning Meal

5 years ago

Did you notice that little play on words there in the title?

That's me, so clever.

I'm a very positive, upbeat person. I often take it to the extreme by downplaying practically everything. If I were to suddenly find myself with a limb hanging on by a thread, I'd probably say "Looks like I'll need a few stitches. Which is cool, because then I can be The Bride of Frankenstein for Halloween - I already have the hair."

I don't just do it when it involves me, I do it to those around me as well. I'd often thought of this as being positive and looking for that silver lining in every situation (I do still believe there is one and that it should be recognized).

But, as age continues to stalk me and occasionally throw some lifestyle changes to muck up the works, I'm learning that grieving is something we all need to do, even when it doesn't involve the loss of a loved one.

I now think it is important to be supportive of someone struggling with a life change and to acknowledge that things might just suck right now. Of course, this doesn't work for everyone. Use this tactic at your own risk.

While it is O.K. to talk of the bright side and positives, there are ALWAYS negatives. Dwelling is bad, but acknowledging seems important, at least to me.

And I'll tell you why.

I'm mourning the loss of my former way of eating.

Insignificant in the grand scheme of life? Yes, you betcha it is.

But, it is what is happening in my life right now and I am perfectly within my rights to say, "This kind of fucking sucks!"

Will it be this way forever...the sucky part? Of course not!

Will I get over it and move on? Absolutely, I already am.

What the hell am I talking about?

Being diagnosed with Celiac disease.

Wait...wait...wait, please don't roll your eyes.  And please....PLEASE...don't say, "But there are so many gluten free products now! What's the big deal?"  I've already said it myself, as a form of denying that there is a tarnished lining.

In my case Celiac disease is fixable by avoiding gluten. Gluten free products are plentiful. People who were diagnosed ages ago will tell you how lucky you are to have so many choices. The reality is that we are damn lucky. But, also...there is no acknowledgement to what you are losing in the process. That's kind of lame to gloss over it and...kind of...unfair.

The alternate reality is also that my whole way of eating is thrown of it's axis and the choices are NOT as plentiful as they seem.

I cannot walk into a restaurant now and order any meal I want. I can't go out for pizza with the family. I can't have Asian food. I can't have that slice of birthday cake offered at an event. I can't have that piece of pie or that muffin, cupcake, burrito, hamburger or hot dog. I need to know what is in the salad dressing and sauces - is the cheese sauce from a roux or is it real melted cheese? Frozen yogurt might be hiding gluten, as well as a chocolate bar or ice cream. My beloved chipotle peppers in adobo sauce? Yup, they have wheat flour.

I know there are alternatives to these, if I make them at home. I can order my hamburger wrapped in lettuce, but...really? Also, too...what if they add bread crumbs to their burger meat? I can buy (or make) gluten free pizza at home (so far, the reviews are lukewarm on the outcome). There are mixes and desserts and crackers and all sort of alternate products I can buy and consume at home, but the dining out choices - while much better - are still limited and often not exactly what I want. I want the bread that is served at the table to mop up the sauce after I shovel in a plate full of pasta. I won't be doing that anymore.

This is a major lifestyle change. A mental shift that requires much more thought, planning and contemplation. Please allow me (or anyone else you know, including yourself if it happens to you) to take some time to mourn the loss of foodie freedom. It won't last, it's just until the shock has worn off and we discover the wealth of choices we DO  have.

Before you say, "Wow, you'll be so much healthier"...that isn't necessarily true. I've read the labels of those gluten free products and they are (often) still loaded with crap. Just because wheat gluten (or rye, barley, etc) is removed does NOT make it healthy. The gluten free cakes, desserts, breads,etc are STILL processed foods.

I'm choosing to go a whole foods route and avoid as much processed food at possible. I'm not loading up on snacks to replace my old ass doesn't need it. I'm choosing this new diagnosis as a chance to get my body healthy via healthy food. I'm choosing to look at this as a positive opportunity.


I needed my time to mourn the foods and way of life I no longer have open to me. At least by choice, because really...I could ignore the diagnosis and eat what I want, where I want. But I don't want to, since the fatigue has practically gone and I feel like a completely new person. I'm looking forward to discovering a more creative way of baking and cooking so that I can get my dining out favorites at home - there are so many wonderful websites at my fingertips cooking up wholesome (a.k.a. UN-processed) goodness!

My advice, when faced with a friend who is going through the same thing (or even yourself)? Allow time to mourn. Don't rush to say, " won't be so bad, you have so many choices!" (I said this very thing about myself to a friend recently). Instead, say "Wow, that sucks. How are you feeling about it?" Then, start surfing that silver lining, because could be worse, you could need a few stitches. What...that limb will probably grow back, just watch. {wink}

Image Credit: °Florian on Flickr, shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.

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