The other day I decided to cut gluten out of my life. Just like that.
It was a tough decision. A very tough decision. Especially so considering that I come from a European family. Our culture’s staple diet essentially consists of, well, gluten: Bread, pasta, this thing called pasticcio (which is effectively a Greek, perhaps also Italian, version of lasagne), pastries… did I mention bread? The fact that I’m already a vegetarian makes things difficult enough.
I remember the first time I told my grandma that I’d stopped eating meat; she looked at me with utter incredulity, as though I were speaking German.
“What do you mean you’re not eating meat? What’s wrong with you?”
She speaks little English, and although my Greek’s fairly fluent, my grasp of the language is basic. I don’t have the tools to explain to her that I think eating the flesh of an innocent animal is unnecessary – that animals are our friends, and not to be consumed so willy-nilly. I don’t know how to tell her that I think ending something’s life, simply to satiate our cravings for a meaty snack is “wrong.”
And now, now that I don’t eat gluten – gee whizz banana fizz. How could I ever even begin to explain that?
“First you stop eating meat, and now you stop eating bread?” *Shakes head, disappointed* “I’ve raised an idiot. If food’s there, you eat it. Idiot.” *Shakes head, again, disappointed*
So then, why the change? Why jump onto this new, gluten-free fad that seems to have sneakily polluted our public consciousness. Why jump onto this mass-produced bandwagon?
You might be surprised to know, I actually have a valid reason.
No, it’s not because I want to lose weight. No, it’s not because I think gluten is the devil’s ejaculate. No, it’s not because I think gluten is so utterly unhealthy that I should kick it from my diet. But rather, it’s because…
When I was about 14 years old, I contracted this disease known as chronic fatigue. It came around the same time I had my first major depressive episode.
Turns out that chronic fatigue and depression are closely linked. And as it also turns out, gastric problems – which I’ve experienced in a severe way for the last ten years – are also closely knitted into symptoms of chronic fatigue and depression. And what do you know?
The allergic reaction that people have to gluten is a heavy contributor to this problem of perpetual moroseness.
Who’d have thought?
So, being a responsible human being (ha-ha-ho), a human being who’s had enough of Mr Angry Belly, I thought I’d take proactive steps to do something to try and assuage my bitterly rumbling tum-tum.
For the last ten years, I’ve merely put up with the aches and the pains and the cramps. I’ve accepted them as a part of my life. I never did a single thing to try and get rid of them.
But it’s gotten to a stage where the aching belly, coupled with Mr Depression, has just become too much. If I don’t take steps in order to heal myself, in some way or another, I’m not going to last much longer.
Alas, I’ve said goodbye to gluten. No more bread. No more pasticcio. No more pastries. No more Weat Bix. No more Captain Crunch.
No more fun.
But it’s not all bad news in the world of weird.
Believe it or not, my stomach already feels extraordinarily better.
It’s been less than a week without gluten. But in that week, although I’ve still been getting bloated, the painful cramps haven’t happened. Not at all. It’s quite amazing, actually. It’s literally the first time in over ten years that I’ve gone for longer than four days without feeling crippling stomach agonies.
Which got me to thinking: I’ve harboured this ailment for over ten years. In those ten years, not once did I seriously consider taking action to relieve the problem. How many other negative habits do I carry around with me? What else could I do to make my life that little bit easier?
I don’t know about you guys, but if I try something new and don’t get instant results, I feel discouraged. Even though I know, in the deepest recesses of my mind, that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that it’s the little things that eventually turn into the big things – I’m an impatient fucker. I need immediate reward. I need instant gratification. A quick fix. If I don’t get it, I do a Jesus and turn the other cheek, despite knowing that results will almost certainly float to the surface a little later.
So then, how about you delightful weirdos?
Have any of you got anything that you know, on some semi-conscious level that you probably should get around to changing or mending? What cobwebs fester in your person’s abode? Please tell me I’m not alone in my self-defeating laziness?
Humans-are-weird. Sorry, Mr Bread, but it’s time to say goodbye. But hello, hello… to a comfortable belly.