Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Damn you, gluten

I need a ten-step program to help me stay away from gluten.
I know it hurts me: skin rashes, gastrointestinal distress, brain fog, fatigue.
When you know better, you do better. (Oprah, quoting Maya Angelou ~)
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. (Dr. Phil ~)
Stop being such a dumbass. (My friend Jennifer ~)

Look. I am (reasonably) intelligent. I understand that I am highly gluten intolerant: there's blood test confirmation. More significant, however, is this: 100 percent of the time, when I consume gluten (aka wheat) -- spaghetti, crackers, that Panera bagel, a soothing bowl of Cream of Wheat -- I end up in the bathroom, sick. Attic or basement, my body revolts. I also end up with a MOST-itchy skin rash that causes hives, welts, and sometimes bleeding sores. Gross, right?

So why do I still eat that plate of ravioli? Drink that Rolling Rock?

I might know better, but I'm certainly not doing better.
Wait. That statement is not entirely correct. Since my Stay-Away-From-Gluten diagnosis last summer, I have made sweeping changes in how I grocery shop, stock my fridge and pantry, and prepare meals.
It has helped that my most wonderful daughter (now age 28) has completely eliminated gluten from her diet. She lives with her dad and me, and so it is not unusual for her to (microscopically) police food products and (loudly) denounce their presence in our home. She is a flaming Gluten Nazi and, let's be honest, there have been some arguments: Don't throw away that bag of pita chips! That's a perfectly good can of Progresso tomato soup ... why are you pouring it out? Did you buy that? Oh, no, you didn't buy that, did you? So hands off! What, these? These malted milk balls? They're an early Easter treat ... .
I am her mother; I am twenty years older; I am college-degreed. Doesn't matter. When this daughter snatches the Cadbury bag away from me and starts bobbing her head in a disapproving way, she makes me feel childish and ashamed, like I've pooped my pants at a social function and other people have begun to notice.
It has helped that the family I nanny for has a sweet child who is gluten-intolerant. I prepare after-school snacks and dinners for her, one sibling, and their parents -- all nut-free-gluten-free, and so I'm used to wheat-less (and now nut-less) meal prep. This little girl, nine, has severe nut allergies and could die should peanuts or macadamias enter her body. We are hyper-vigilant. We have to be. We carry an EpiPen with us at all times.
So, yes, I know how to live gluten-free.
I just don't.
Like Jennifer says, I need to stop being a dumbass.
I just this second figured out a way to stay away from gluten: I need to tell myself that gluten is my macadamia, that if I ate a Fried Chicken Dinner at Cracker Barrel the breading would send me into anaphylactic shock. A Culver's Butterburger would incite hasty respiratory distress.
Past behavior has shown that I do not stay away from all that harms me.
I might, however, stay away from all that kills me.
Perhaps my future behavior is going to be different behavior after all.

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