Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guilt, capitulation and a weekend with wheat

I visited my parents in Arizona again this weekend, this time without JFG. It was an interesting opportunity to experience non-celiacs eating wheat without guilt, and if I learned anything it was that my fright or flight response to wheat products has become instinctual and reflexive.

My mother always keeps baked goods next to the refrigerator, and when she expects a full house (like this weekend) to say that she overstocks is like saying that Stalin held a grudge. Literally, piles of bread, cookies, cake and pie teeter crazily in big gluteny heaps on the counter. She's even purchased a special shelf so that she can build a two-floor townhouse of sugar, flour and chocolate to feed her family.

Don't get me wrong. While she tends to overcook the sugar cookies I love her pumpkin bread, scones and Texas sheet cake -- all of which were in attendance this weekend.

But I spent the entire weekend like a sleeper who is afraid she'll miss an early-morning interview, drowsing but waking up suddenly every fifteen seconds. I was truly slightly terrified to see all of that wheat, undifferentiated and exposed to air. I almost stopped people from using one knife on all breads. I almost scrubbed down counters when someone cut bread on the granite itself (without a specific gluten cutting board). I almost read the nutrition label on everything we bought. I almost refused to share plates of crackers and cheese.

It was lovely to eat wheat without constant analysis and suspicion. But it taught me two things:

1. It's not a bad thing to think deeply about your food. Without that kind of reflection, you swallow meals without appreciation for the time and effort that went into creating them, and without considering whether or not you actually need the nutrition. Result: 2.5 lbs.

2. The guilt is overwhelming. When JFG picked me up at the airport, I felt like I needed to confess. He laughed but had to be disappointed, especially since he'd DVRed Glee and saved it so we could watch together. Can you sweat gluten in your sleep?

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