Hint: It has nothing to do with food.
I knew it was coming. When I booked into see a naturopath I knew she was going to put me on a gluten and dairy free diet. I had been sceptical and reluctant to make the appointment in the first place. But she came highly recommended and I was getting desperate. I had visited several doctors over the past two years and nothing had helped. I was constantly tired, lethargic, and bloated.
I hate cooking. So naturally I was worried about what the hell I was going to eat. Turns out preparing meals at home wasn’t all that hard, and it was well worth it. Within three days I felt A-MAZ-ING. My energy levels were up, and my stomach felt hollow almost, in a good way. It was as if I’d been bloated my whole life and never realised it.
I’d found the solution. Living a gluten and dairy free lifestyle was the answer to my health issues. I was on a feel good high. This was soon shattered though by the snide comments and criticism I received from family and friends.
“I heard that if you’re not coeliac you shouldn’t cut out gluten”
Everyone is an expert. And everyone knows better than my qualified naturopath. They were talking down to me as if I was this silly little girl who had woken up one day and decided to make this major change to my diet on a whim. Reading one article, or hearing one expert on television, doesn’t make you an expert to be dishing out advice.
“You can have just one biscuit”
This one time, at a work conference, morning tea rolled round and out came trays of delicious looking pastries and biscuits. Next to all that yummy goodness was a teeny tiny muesli bar labelled ‘gluten and dairy free’. I laughed and said, “Well I guess that’s mine.” My co-worker replied exasperated, “You can just have one biscuit.” I was speechless. Just because you’re not clinically allergic to something doesn’t mean it’s not doing you harm.
“Maybe you can take a hit for the team and eat gluten”
Finding a gluten and dairy free friendly restaurant can be tricky. I find Italian particularly difficult – all that pasta and creamy sauces. So when I wasn’t entirely on board with eating out at a suggested restaurant the response was, “Maybe you can take a hit for the team and eat gluten”. I was shocked, and didn’t have a reply. Someone was asking me to deliberately make myself feel sick so it would be less inconvenient to them.
In the early days I wasn’t sure what I could and couldn’t eat. If I was eating out, I’d have to ask the question. I’ll never forget this one particular shop assistant. It was a fish market in the local shopping centre that also served lunch. Her response was a massive eye roll. All I could do was stare at her. Like, what the hell? I couldn’t ask a question now. The store owner had overhead my question and jumped in to assure me that yes, that grilled fish is gluten free.
Snide comments aside, the biggest challenge has probably been accepting that nobody cares that I’m feeling better. Nobody cares that I’ve taken responsibility for my own health and wellbeing. Nobody ever says, “That’s great Lisa, you finally found a cure to your chronic symptoms.” That’s the reason I went gluten and dairy free in the first place – to feel better.
Do you ever cop criticism for being gluten and dairy free? How do you handle it? Let me know in the comments.