The Truth About Being Gluten and Dairy-Free
Going out is different now, I have to greet every waiter with "I have a gluten and dairy allergy, so I'll need to customize my order" with the hope that the waiter and restaurant can accommodate my needs. Being gluten and dairy-free is still new to me; after being diagnosed with an altering stomach condition, I had to adjust my diet, but I found - after time - it began to get worse.
So, I'm now eating at my own risk...
It was just over two years ago that I was near death (or so it felt) while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. I, of course, enjoyed the benefits of all inclusive on day one, and by day two I was bedridden and on my way to the resort medic to find out I had travels virus. I spent a year after that suffering in pain almost daily to later find out I developed an allergy in connection to the virus, and on top of my pre-existing condition, now I'd have to be free of any dairy or gluten. Yes, there are conditions that are far worse, but nothing will make you more of a pain in the ass than having to check every ingredient before you consume it.
The truth about being gluten and dairy-free is: if you don't ask questions about the ingredients or how it's prepared, you're inevitably going to be in pain, weak, and anxious the days following. What many people don't talk about is the anxiety and fear that's associated with having a stomach condition + severe food allergies. You can never "let go" without worrying, "will this make me sick?" while everyone sits around you in judgment of "YOU CAN'T EAT ANYTHING." There's a constant struggle to enjoy life without the worrying, but the truth is, it's our responsibility to know and care more about this than anyone else because one slip-up of the wrong thing can send us into a painful spiral. So, as much as I love ice cream, no I can't have any and I'd appreciate it if you didn't give me a sad face or tell me to just eat a little. 😌
We thankfully live in a time where there are more gluten and dairy-free options than before, but the money wasted trying to find products that are natural and not filled with chemicals and preservatives is time-consuming and costly, something I didn't have to worry about before any of this. (Yes, I'll take the $8 gluten-free vegan cupcake) If you are new to being gluten or dairy-free, I've created a shopping list of some of my favorite products that are either available at your local grocery store or local Trader Joe's (available below). As someone who rarely feels sorry for himself, I wanted to share this new journey with you to let you know it's difficult in the beginning, but once you adjust your lifestyle, things will get easier. And if you're not someone who is gluten and dairy-free, but knows someone who is, I share this experience with you in hopes that you will be more sensitive to our needs, so pass me that cookie, and make sure it's one I can eat. 😜