A Series of Firsts: Now That’s What I Call Will Power


This post is part of a new series called “A Series of Firsts,” which chronicles my endeavors to make myself and my life more interesting.

One evening, not so long ago, I sat next to a friend at baby shower. She declined a delectable lavender shortbread cookie, saying, “Oh, I don’t eat gluten anymore.”

Naturally, my immediate response was to eat three cookies. One for me, one for her, and one to calm my nerves in the wake of this shocking confession. I was shaken. “Why, Sarah?” I asked her. “Why?”

Just days later I was at Julia’s house, taking up space in the kitchen while she baked cookies with her daughter. It struck me that these were no ordinary cookies. They were gluten-free, just like Sarah. Julia explained that she was gluten-free and loving it. I was experiencing a tumultuous paradigm shift.

For years I’d encountered people who were gluten-free due to food sensitivities and I pitied them from the innermost depths of my heart. I racked my brain trying to think of what these people must eat. (Lettuce? Carrot sticks? Water?) I was overcome with horrific visions of a life without meaning.

But what Julia and Sarah said resonated with me. They said they used to be tired. I thought, I’m tired. They said it was all worth it. I thought, Maybe…but, no. But…maybe? Maybe I could love it, too… They said they had no regrets. I thought, I want to have no regrets. Suddenly it was so clear! I would become gluten-free, too.

The decision was made and I was determined to love it. And so I embarked on an epic journey:

Day 1. I marveled at how easy and carefree I felt for all of ten minutes as I ate yogurt for breakfast. Lunch at a sandwich shop proved slightly more difficult. Chili seemed like a safe choice. All the same, I considered asking if there was gluten in it. But wait, I thought. Is chili naturally gluten-free? If so, I didn’t want to look a fool. A teeny bit of gluten wouldn’t hurt anything, right? Probably better to save face. I decided not to ask, and ate the chili.

Day 4. I was having a blast! This was practically the easiest thing I’d ever done! I ate quinoa like fiend and was starving by 4 pm. In the evening I made soup. I poured it right out of the carton and added my own chicken, rice, and basil. I briefly entertained the idea of opening my very own gluten-free restaurant. Or starring in my own cooking show called “Life After Gluten!!”

Day 6. I ignored all social obligations over the weekend in favor of making vegetable soup from scratch and grilling eggplant on my roommate’s George Foreman grill. I had the soup for dinner and was immediately hungry again, but none of that mattered as I reveled in my domesticity.

Day 10. Overcome by frequent bouts of hunger, I’d lost all creativity. All I could think about was how great it would be to just swim around in a giant bowl of pasta. If God intended for us to live like this he would never have invented bagels. This wasn’t at all the life of bliss I’d been promised!

Day 12. My joyful, gluten-free world full of rice, vegetables, and limitless possibilities had disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived, never to return. I was beside myself with hunger and couldn’t think of a thing to eat. Finally, weak and exhausted, I crawled to the kitchen and opened the freezer door. I pulled out a mini ice cream sandwich, and I slowly savored it bite by bite. And then I had another one.

Thus began and ended my great gluten-free adventure of 2011.

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