Have you ever felt like you have to apologize for being the person that you are? I know that there have been many times in my life where I’ve felt like I’ve had to apologize to others for not being pretty enough, or good enough, or a million other stupid things. But the biggest thing that I used to feel so guilty about was being gluten and dairy free. For years, I’ve avoided going to dinner parties, or church activities that involve food because I felt like I had to be the one who had to say, “Sorry, I’m inconveniencing your [insert gathering that revolves around food] but I really appreciate that you went out of your way to get me some gluten and dairy free food.” Or say something along the lines, “Oh, don’t apologize that you don’t have anything for me to eat even though you’ve known for the past six years that I’ve been gluten and dairy free. It’s okay that you totally forgot that I was coming. I’ll just go chew on some napkins. It’s no big deal.” [I hope you’re laughing because that last one was sarcastic.]
The truth is I have absolutely nothing to apologize for. It’s not my fault that my body has autoimmune diseases that get triggered by eating gluten. It’s nobody’s “fault” other than my genetics. It is what it is and over time I have learned how to accept it. But let’s make one thing clear: Being gluten-free has never been my choice. To be completely frank, I absolutely hate it. I hate how expensive it is. I hate the taste. I hate that I have to check all sorts of food labels to make sure it’s safe. But most of all, I hate how it triggers my autoimmune problems.
There are so many bloggers out there that have jumped on the wagon of being gluten-free because it’s the latest health trend. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t health benefits to being gluten-free because let’s be honest here . . . There are several health benefits. But what’s incredibly frustrating is how romanticized being a gluten-free foodie is.
The hype of the trendiness of being gluten-free shocks me. Why would anyone willingly choose to be gluten-free? I have no idea. It’s a hard lifestyle because it’s not convenient and can be very expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I have learned how to manage my budget and keep my gluten-free expenses cheap but it’s taken me years to get it down.
All these pictures you’re seeing of my gluten-free meals are really yummy. Don’t get me wrong, I love the meals that I create. I love that I’m able to come up with healthy options that help keep myself healthy. But sometimes I feel so guilty for imposing on others because of my diseases.
I have to look at my guilt the same way that mom’s have to look at their “mom guilt.” I may not be a mother, but all but three of my friends are. Mom guilt is a thing. It’s hard putting yourself first before your screaming baby. My “food guilt” is the same thing. It’s hard putting my health before my relationships with my family and friends. It’s hard saying no to people when I know that it’s annoying and inconvenient for everyone else.
But at the same time, I have to be okay with it because I’m taking care of me. A little gluten or dairy every now and then won’t kill me. I’m fully aware of this because sometimes I am terrible and eat ice cream. #IAmATerribleVegetarian But I always, always pay for it for about three to four days. Is it worth it? Not at all. But I do it sometimes because I feel guilty for making other people feel uncomfortable for my eating habits.
On the flip-side of the coin, I can understand why it’s uncomfortable for people when I tell them that I’m gluten and dairy free. It’s hard going on dinner dates. It’s hard planning a meal at family dinners. It’s uncomfortable because there are so many things the people don’t know about being gluten and dairy free and they don’t wan to make me sick. I get that. I appreciate it that people are worried about it. But I can no longer apologize for my health problems. I have to take a stand against the apologies.
Today I take a stand about apologizing for my health issues because I am so much more than a person with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. I’m a 26 year-old educated woman who manages a program that works with adults who have disabilities. I have my own apartment, a couple of pet fish, and an incredible circle of friends. Life is amazing for me. And I am no longer going to apologize for being who I am and that includes being gluten and dairy free. Rant over.