It all started two weeks ago at my niece’s fourth birthday party.
It wasn’t so much the sight of the pony-shaped cake (I kid you not on that one, but it was certainly cheaper than purchasing an actual pony) with the creamy frosting as it was the smell of it—thickly sweet. After watching her blow out her candles, I returned to the other side of the room and tried to ignore all the pieces of cake being passed around the room.
The following weekend, I was buying coffee in an attempt to be alert for my Saturday morning fellowship meeting when the sugary aroma of the donuts on display in front of me stopped me in my tracks. That same night, I had salad with grilled mushrooms and chicken sausage for dinner—something that usually satiates me just fine—and I could barely eat it when I saw my husband spooning up the very same chicken sausage, except his was nestled in a deep bowl of macaroni and cheese.
Even when we met friends for sushi, a standby favorite when I remember to bring my gluten-free soy sauce, my maki paled in comparison to the pan-fried dumplings that accompanied our order. What was flying fish roe next to piping hot, garlicky dumplings?
The last straw came when we were watching a Food Network Challenge that involved baking cakes of celebration.
“Do you realize that as long as I live, I will never have a bite of real cake again?” I asked my husband.
He looked at me nonplussed; he’d gummed down the gluten-free layer of our otherwise normal (and, apparently decadent) wedding cake with me, so this definitely wasn’t news to him. The catering staff assumed we’d both want to eat from the same top tier we’d cut, so he got the gluten-free version of raspberries and cream. That’s love. (He also accidentally dropped some of said GF cake down into my strapless dress when we were cutting it, so I’d say we were even!)
“And I will never take a bite of a glazed donut or eat pan-fried dumplings or….” I continued to rattle off a list of sweet and salty carb-loaded goodness. (Let me interject with yes, I know there are plenty of GF options out there and I know they are quite declicous and worth the effort, but that's the rational response, and I'm not talking reason here.)
The humorous aspect to this conversation is not simply that I had this epiphany a full three years after I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Seriously, isn’t it a bit late in the game for this?
No, what’s really kind of ridiculous is that these were not even things I ate "before." I always turned down the box of Munchkins that went around the classroom, I was militant about my no-cake policy on my birthday since I was in middle school, and I always picked “steamed” over anything “pan-fried.” I ordered salad when friends got pizza, and the only other time I’ve had fast food since the late 1980s was when I was on a spelunking trip in Western Ireland and there were literally no other options.
I’m not exaggerating any of that. A lifetime on steroids and an ever-present diet will do that to you.
So yes, for two weeks now I have had intense, distracting cravings for things I didn’t even like all that much. It’s not that I miss them—I miss the idea of being able to choose them.
Does that sound incredibly silly?
Two nights ago, my husband almost gave in to lesser instincts and came close to ordering delivery pizza at 11pm. He went back and forth, ultimately deciding it would really be too gluttonous.
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I will never have a piece of pizza from Domino’s as long as I live,” I said, half-joking, half being a jerk.
“Um, not really.”
It didn’t make me feel any better, either. It just made me sound bratty. That was the moment I snapped out of it a bit. I’ve since reconciled with my salad greens, my apples and red grapes, my grilled chicken and my brown rice, my rice crackers and gluteen-free tamari.