Grieving for Gluten

I miss gluten. Yes, it was making me feel unwell, but when you know you can’t have something, you just automatically want it more! It’s been 5 weeks since I went cold turkey and said goodbye to gluten for good, and I am 100% grieving for gluten.

You might laugh at that, but think about it …. when you lose something that’s been a part of your daily routine for quite some time you naturally go through a grieving process of some sort ….  be that grieving for people, pets .. food!!

Apparently, the 5 natural processes of grieving are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance so here goes …..

Denial

“The results must be wrong” …..

“I’ve been eating it for 24 years and only now starting to feel unwell, it’s just a phase” ….

“I’ve only had mild symptoms, the results must be over exaggerated”

No. You have Coeliac Disease;the blood test, endoscopy, and doctors all said so!

Anger

“But I don’t want to have coeliac disease, mum, I like a biscuit and a sandwich too much”

For me, the anger (red head rage?) started when I started to research how many foods I would now have to avoid. It was a case of “look at all these things I cant have anymore!!”. I couldn’t accept that there were gluten free alternatives of most of my favourite foods, and even if there were, I didn’t want to have to be trying them. I’d already convinced myself that I wouldn’t find version that I liked the taste of, before even buying any to taste test! Why couldn’t I just be ‘normal’ and be able to eat gluten?

Bargaining

Delaying the inevitable –  “Oh, its ok, I’ll have  gluten today and start gluten free diet tomorrow” …..

Compromising – “Maybe if I go half and half … I’ll do half a day gf, and the other half non gf”

Comforting your routine – “Ok, I’ll be good and cut out the gluten, but I’ll let myself keep one non gf food to have as a treat each day”

Compromising and bargaining seems like a good idea at the time, but it only delays the inevitable.  Sometimes, the best thing is to just go all out and start a new routine there and then, and I’ve now realised looking back, that cutting out gluten is one of those times!

Depression

“I can’t eat anything, so I may as well not even look in the shop”

“I wont ever be able to go out for food now, or I’ll always be labelled as the ‘fussy eater’

It’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel depressed about the whole situation, but remember, its all new! You can’t expect to know everything straight away – you’re learning a whole new diet and way of life. You will inevitably get the odd day where you think about how you’ll never be able to have your nan’s apple pie, or your Mum’s gravy, but once you come out of this phase of grieving, you’ll be able to accept these things. Better times are coming ……

Acceptance

“I guess it’s not so bad after all”

“I’ve found some really nice gluten free alternatives”

Having to give up gluten may not be ideal at first; but doing something that’s going to make you (eventually) feel better, has got to be worth the extra effort. Gluten free products are much more widely accessible now than they were  5-10 years ago, and there are gluten free versions of all the staple diet requirements – bread, rice, pasta etc. When you first get diagnosed, you automatically think of all the things you can’t have, but what about all those naturally gluten free foods you eat? They’ll always stick by your side – the fruit and veg, meat, potatoes., fish.

A lot of your initial transition to gluten free eating will be trial and error; buying different gluten free brands, testing different foods and seeing which you like and which you don’t. Take your time to adjust and don’t go over board; after my diagnosis, I automatically thought that if it had a gluten free label then it meant I had to buy it regardless of if I used to eat the non gluten free version of it or not! Eating out will seem daunting at first, but look for recommendations online about the best gluten free friendly restaurants in your area, phone up your favourite restaurant and ask about their gluten free options and how they avoid cross contamination.

Personally, my grieving 5 weeks in is somewhere in the anger and/or depression stages, depending on how my day is going. Sometimes I feel in control, other days I feel fed up and frustrated at all the restrictions. My comfort on these days comes from knowing that in a few months time, I will be feeling so much better and I’ll be able to start trusting myself in knowing what I can and can’t have.

It will all be worth it!!

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6 thoughts on “Grieving for Gluten

  1. Shonna says:

    My mom has been doing gluten free for around 5 years now. I’ve seen her go through all these stages you mentioned. She finally got to a stage of acceptance but in the past few months I’ve seen her “cheating” as she calls it. Not sure why other than I guess she missed certain things. I get onto her when it ends up hurting her later.
    Very nice blog. I will be recommending it to her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thegfredhead says:

      Lovely to hear from you Shonna! Yes, I feel it’s probably an on going process of grieving for the gluten and some days it’s easier than others. Hopefully your mum will get back on track asap! X

      Like

  2. Liz Maskill says:

    I have been gf for 15 years now and when I think back to how I used to feel, the upset tummies, the runs, the flu like feelings, the wind, I don’t miss that at all. I am now a dab hand at adapting recipes and everyone thinks my gf Yorkshire puddings taste better than the gluten ones. Keep strong, you will get there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thegfredhead says:

      Thank you for the comment Liz! Yes, I’m sure it will all be worth it once I’ve settled in to the new regime, takes a little while to adapt I guess. A lot to learn, but an important process 🙂

      Like

  3. Sarah Smales says:

    I was diagnosed in my early teens although I think I was lucky (if that’s the right word?!) that as my mum is also coeliac I had been eating less gluten than most anyway. I think the older you are when you’re diagnosed the harder it can be to make peace with it. My friends dad has just been diagnosed and he is in his 60’s so I can imagine trying to change what he has been eating and his routine is hard as it’s hard for anyone but 60 years of habits!
    After 15 years I don’t miss it as such but as I travel a lot I do wish that figuring out what food is gluten free elsewhere was as simple as I find it in England (especially in Asia as I couldn’t even translate the writing well enough after learning the phrase and having it written!). The internet is incredibly helpful though!
    But i do have to say the ‘if has a gluten free label I have to try it’ feeling has never gone away for me! I get so excited about new brands and new products I’ve never tried.
    All the best on your gluten free journey 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

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