“To eat humble pie” is a phrase people commonly use when admitting they were wrong.
In my case, this humble pie also happens to be gluten-free.
These days, I lament the person I used to be: so carefree, so naive, and so full of judgement about other people’s eating intolerances. Yes, I was that person.
It was probably due, in part, to the fact I’d never had to worry about such things. I never had any allergies or intolerances growing up (lucky me, I know). My Hungarian granny would pile my plate high with buttered potatoes, pasta and schnitzel, my dad made fresh bread which we devoured every day, and I was forever drinking milk out of the carton (sorry mum) between shoving handfuls of peanuts into my mouth.
I was also skeptical about whether or not the people sitting opposite me at the dinner table actually needed to order that ‘special’ food according to what their diet dictated. The FODMAPs and “free from”-s, the bringing their own food to barbecues… it always puzzled me a little.
I knew some people couldn’t eat gluten or lactose for medical reasons, but it still annoyed me. That is, until recently.
Can’t eat gluten? Here’s a delicious recipe to try. (Post continues after video)
I went off to see my doctor, complaining of issues I’ve always just lived with — like always being tired, “gut issues”, and vitamin deficiencies.
I’d always thought these were the kind of things everyone has, that you just deal with and try to forget about. But it all began to pile up a little too much (if you know what I mean… like, 13 days too much. Sorry again, mum) and I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
My doctor asked me a bunch of questions, which I answered. His verdict was, simply, “You probably have coeliac disease. Let’s get you tested.”
As it turns out, I do.
Cutting gluten out of my everyday life was easier than I thought it would be, although I still miss sourdough like nobody's business. But going out for dinner? Not so much.
The first time went to a restaurant, I spent about half an hour scanning the menu to figure out what I actually could eat, let alone wanted to eat.
So when I went out for pizza last week, I came prepared and studied the menu beforehand. But I still worried all day about what my girlfriends would say. Would I be vilified? Would they inwardly roll their eyes? Would they vote to evict me from the table like some kind of gluten-free version of Big Brother? (Post continues after gallery.)
I was surprised to find zero shits were given when I needed to order a different base to everyone else.
What was even more surprising was my realisation about how unfairly I'd treated my friends with food intolerances in the past.
People who request meals catered to their intolerances are often seen as pretentious or following a fad diet, but it’s really not that simple. Some people, even if they don’t have coeliac disease, experience benefits from a gluten-free diet — this is called non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, or NCGS.
Others follow a FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet and exclude a group of carbohydrates found in wheat staples because they have sensitive gut bacteria.
Whatever the reason, I say: each to their own. You have the right to eat what you wanna eat, how you want to eat it, because it is right for you. And I'll do the same.
So to all the friends whom I judged so viciously at the pizza table in the past: I'm sorry. I'm done with the food judgement.
Have you ever been judged for what you eat?