Let’s Talk About Feelings

Megan - The Gluten Free Vegan

Alrighty, it’s time for a heart-to-heart.

I don’t usually delve into the serious side of life here on my little corner of the internet. I don’t always talk about real feelings. It’s part of my personality to always put my best foot forward and not show the unglamorous side of life – especially when it comes to living a gluten-free and vegan life. But that’s also not necessarily real. When I go through a rough patch I tend to just stay silent. Don’t write anything, don’t create anything new, don’t post anything. I don’t want the honesty or reality to show through in my writing. I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t want to rock the boat.

I always focus on the positive. I think about how awesome it is to live the way we do. How we are so much healthier than some people we know. How we challenge ourselves and our tastebuds to try new things. I want to focus on those positive things.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some off days, some crappy moments. That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. For four years now I’ve talked minimally about the drawbacks or difficulties we endure living a gluten-free vegan lifestyle. I think that I am unfairly sheltering readers from those very real things. Because I don’t share them I feel like perhaps I’ve been denying that these downsides or negative moments do actually exist. That doesn’t paint a realistic picture to someone new to the journey. That doesn’t seem very fair, does it?

I only show the good but not the bad. That’s totally a defence mechanism. I don’t want to come across like a Negative Nelly or a Complainy Cathy. (I might have made those up. Maybe.)

We went out for a nice dinner out to a favorite restaurant that has always been excellent at accommodating both of our lifestyles. Almost their entire menu is naturally gluten-free. A huge portion of the items are vegetarian and can be made vegan with ease. Their menu states that they will make adjustments for vegan and gluten-free diets along with other allergies. It is really and truly a great restaurant. But accidents do happen. Mistakes can be made. Nobody is perfect. No judgement. Levi ate an appetizer that was brought out that was intended for a different table. The appetizer we ordered was gluten-free. The one we got had something with gluten inside it. Levi had one bite. Just one bite. I took one bite and told him to stop eating. I knew right away something wasn’t right. He stopped eating it. We thought maybe it would be okay. It was just one tiny bite, after all. Unfortunately, within 20 minutes Levi was sick. He had to leave while I waited to get the rest of our order packed up to go. Naturally, our server was completely upset and apologetic and I felt so bad for her. I don’t blame her one bit. Accidents happen. The two appetizers look identical on the outside. How could she know that she brought the wrong one to our table?

I didn’t think much of the situation at first. Then I started to feel a pang of … resentment. I hated myself for that. I felt like a petulant and selfish child who didn’t get her way, who dropped her lollipop in the sand. Then I felt guilty for feeling that way. I never allow myself to think negatively. Then that started driving me crazy. So, I decided I really need to just express myself for once. I promise I won’t do it all the time. Just once in a while.

So, excuse me for a moment while I finally take a moment to share my feelings. My real-life, unedited and honest feelings.

Sometimes it sucks to be abnormal. It sucks that choosing to eat a healthy plant-based and gluten-free diet is not the norm.

Sometimes it’s really difficult to take a break from life and want the convenience of just picking somewhere new to try and not having to call ahead and ask if they have gluten-free items that are also dairy-free and egg-free (for Levi) – oh but not steak because no he can’t have red meat either, and also do they happen to have vegan options too. Usually I thoroughly confuse the wait staff and have to start over.

Sometimes it’s sad when you go to your tried-and-true old standby restaurants that have never disappointed you, and you get disappointed because people are imperfect and mistakes happen.

Sometimes it’s awful to watch your husband get sick in public because he was accidentally glutened while you sit and wait for the rest of your meal to get packed up to go.

Sometimes it’s embarrassing to listen to the people at the next table openly discuss the finer points of why people with food allergies and intolerances should not ever go to public eating establishments while stealing glances at you waiting to get your food packed up to go.

Sometimes you wonder if restaurant owners and servers would just wish you’d stay at home because it’s an awful inconvenience to ask for things to be so specially made.

Sometimes you wonder if it would have just been better to stay at home and cook after a really horrible day rather than try to enjoy a night out as a treat. And sadly it usually is.

Sometimes you contemplate giving up caring about your health and going back to an old way of life that’s much less complicated. (Though knowing full well you could never and would never do such a thing.)

I recognize that I’m writing this as a person who is a partner of someone with Celiac Disease. I’m not the one who actually got sick. I’m fully aware that for how frustrated I feel in situations like these, that Levi probably feels 100x more frustrated and worse. This might seem like I’m picking on the gluten-free part of our lifestyle more and I hope you can believe me when I say that’s not my intent at all. I’m sorry for that Levi (and everyone else who has Celiac Disease or any other gluten intolerance that’s reading this), because I honestly don’t mean it to be an attack at all. Heaven knows I would never ever do that intentionally. I just really felt the need to get it out there.

Living this way is not always easy. For us, after so many years, I honestly and truly feel like for the most part living a healthy and balanced gluten-free and vegan lifestyle is really not that difficult. I find it enjoyable, challenging (in a good way) and exciting. The few moments like these that happen very rarely aren’t so bad in the grand scheme of things, in the big picture, in full scope.

Rather than end on a negative note (as you can tell, it’s really not my style) I do want to share some of the positives I take away from this experience.

It is really empowering to be in charge of your own health. Knowing exactly what to feed our bodies to sustain us not only healthfully but flavorfully as well is something to be very proud of.

For the 99% of the time that our favorite restaurants don’t make mistakes, I am infinitely thankful that they are so willing to accommodate our special dietary requests and do such an amazing job of it.

It’s okay to feel feelings. It doesn’t mean I’m going to rant on here at random or at regular. But I am not going to pretend that life doesn’t have its challenges. I welcome hearing about yours too. After all, sometimes it’s nice to know there are others out there feeling the same feelings we do.

Thanks for listening … if you’re still listening, that is. Tomorrow we return to our regularly scheduled programming – there will be a proper recipe all about summer fun and picnic food.

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30 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Feelings”

  1. Sujata
    June 10, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Hi Megan,
    Thank you for your honest post. Kudos to you for doing that. I am a GF-vegan (with restrictions on the nuts and fruits I can eat) and I have those moments too, for example recently when I was out traveling there was not much I could eat on the road trip and the people with me were feeling bad more than I did, thankfully I had packed sorghum muffins with me.. but I have been advised to balance my food with protein and veggies and it wasn’t always happening. But anyways, when I am not traveling I enjoy cooking and exploring new recipes whenever I get a chance.. Again thanks for the post and the 99% positive side :) We all have ups and down and you are not alone.
    Best Wishes, Sujata

  2. shauna
    June 10, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Ugh! It sucks. We hear you.

  3. Tatsuko
    June 10, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you very much for posting this. I recently was put on a GF, vegan diet to deal with symptoms of a chronic pain condition. It has been very, very hard, frustrating and even depressing. I have had a lot of difficult days recently coming to terms with my health issues. I am so grateful to you for sharing your frustrations and your overall hopefulness. It helps a lot.

  4. Christine
    June 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Thanks so much for this. Sometimes when I feel frustrated by a GFV lifestyle, I search the internet for things like “gluten-free vegan feeling sorry for myself”. No joke. Just to find others who are feeling the same frustrations, to know that I’m not alone, and to see about others’ strategies. I totally agree that parts of this lifestyle are interesting, fulfilling, and healthy, and there’s lots to feel positive about. But having to plan, research, and call ahead about every meal we eat out, grill servers, potentially embarrass ourselves or our fellow diners… that stuff can really suck. Often I’m envious of people who can just eat anywhere, on a whim, all spontaneous-like. Or those that can just buy those ready-made meals and not spend hours in the kitchen and planning at-home meals. And sometimes I just want to tell my body, “FU!” and eat what I want, what’s easy, but I know I’ll regret it, a lot. But yeah, I get it, and it’s okay to complain from time to time, and I, for one, am really glad that you a) did, and b) have positive things to share as well.

  5. June 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    First, I want to say Thank You for posting this! Although it’s hard to be open and out there with your feelings it’s important to be honest with yourself and what’s going on with you. Also, it IS helpful to hear what others are going through and know that we are not alone. Thank you for sharing!

    I recently learned that I had all of these food allergies (gluten, corn, soy, dairy, peanuts, etc.). Already a vegetarian, I felt completely restricted by the foods I could eat. Not to mention that my friends and family had no clue or iota of understanding what I was talking about. I started researching different sites looking for resources and recipes and this is how I found you. I’m so grateful for the work you share. It has been a life saver for me!

    I posted on my own blog that having food allergies does not suck, and I still think that’s true. I can physically see how well my body is responding to the good food I’m feeding and I’m even coming off of some medications. For me, this way of eating has been a miracle. That being said, it’s definitely not easy. My husband and I hardly ever get a special treat out (can relate to your story) and when we do I’m always modifying and having to ask for a special this or different that. It can be tiresome when all I’m looking for is a relaxing dining experience. Not to mention trying to explain to people what I need to stay away from. It can be confusing!

    This past weekend I was visiting my best friend and her family. The group of us decided we should order in. I knew it would be tricky but for once, I just wanted to feel “normal” as we never order in or eat out anymore. I should have let them enjoy their meals and made my own because after one bite of what I thought was going to be good for me, my face turned red and splotchy! It was my first physical and instantaneous reaction to food that I’d ever had. Luckily it went away on it’s own, but it did leave me concerned for a while.

    Having said all that, I think it’s okay to admit that following this lifestyle is hard. When it gets really tough for me, I remember what it was like when I was feeling so lousy all of the time and feel grateful for every nutritious bite of food I eat. Most people don’t think twice about what they put in their bodies and how it can affect them. I certainly didn’t this weekend until I got my red blotchy wake up call. It’s okay to admit when it’s hard, when it’s challenging, when it’s fun and when it is 100% infuriating. That’s part of being human and the ebbs and flows of life.

    Oh and for those people that were making remarks at the table next to you, just forget it. Generally when people make comments like that it’s out of ignorance. Furrowing your eyebrows at anyone, but particularly someone who is otherwise unwell does not good character make.

    Keep on being you!
    Best,
    Rachel

  6. June 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Thank you all for such lovely comments. Posting this was entirely outside of my comfort zone and I admit I wasn’t sure how it would go over. It’s very comforting to know that there is support and I appreciate all of you more than you know.

    Megan

  7. Emily
    June 10, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting. It is such a relief to know I am not the only one who sometimes feels embarrassed and upset about how challenging a GFV lifestyle can be. Most people in my life are still following a standard american diet like it’s normal and healthy, no big deal. They have a hard time understanding where we are coming from and the challenges we face. A couple of nurses I work with said “I don’t understand why you restrict your diet so much, you have to learn to let yourself have some pleasure in food, at least a little cheese, it’s not going to kill you.” But I don’t think of it as a restriction, I remind myself that it is an abundance of health and the diet I feel my physical best on and just as important it’s best for the animals and the earth. :) Hang in there & hope Levi feels better!

  8. Jacqui
    June 10, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    Thank you for this post…It could not have come at a better time! My boyfriend and I are both gluten, dairy and egg intolerant (with other random food allergies also) so we generally eat gluten free and vegan. However, we do still eat seafood on occasion, but no meat at all. We went to Rocky Point, Mexico this weekend, ate something we are allergic to and got very sick. After 3 days he is finally feeling better but I am still sick. I never thought I could be sick this long from food allergies. As we were driving home today I had the same feelings you expressed above and the “whoa is me” attitude. We love to travel but this month has really done us in. We’ve been on 5 trips in 5 weeks and gotten sick from something we’ve eaten on all of them. I’m sharing in your frustration right now. Thank you again!

    • June 11, 2013 at 9:44 am #

      We love to travel too and it’s true, travelling with food intolerances makes it a lot more challenging. I hope you start feeling better soon Jacqui.

  9. Brenda T
    June 11, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    Thank you for this post. It actually brought tears to my eyes because it bothers me so much that its so challenging for us to just go out to a restaurant and order a simple meal. I am a vegan starting to live the GF life and even though I love it (its good for me, the planet and my main motivation, the animals) it can be difficult and frustrating. And yes sometimes I just want to complain and I get so moody when I am hungry and just cant go anywhere to eat like everyone else, but then I take a minute to think about it and realize how good it is for me, that people who judge me are just ignorant and they don’t want to open their eyes to the reality of what they are putting in their body. I think how good I feel about myself for standing up for what I believe in, for not giving up, for being different in such a great way. I just love my lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for anything. I love each and everyone of the people commenting on this post, we all share something in common, we share a similar amazing lifestyle because we love ourselves and that’s the most important thing in life.

  10. Kim
    June 11, 2013 at 2:54 am #

    Great post, thanks! its so encouraging to hear that others too get frustrated when it goes wrong! I am the one with coeliac disease and dairy intolerance and many a times my boyfriend and I have gone out to eat and i have ended up contaminated with gluten and very ill. half the time i think ‘why do we bother even trying to eat out?’ as i feel so much safer to just eat at home. but then I guess it just makes the successful occasions even better!
    it was really nice to hear though that you (and i am sure loads of other people) have the same thoughts and feeling as I when things don’t go to plan. Thanks!

  11. June 11, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    It was so nice to wake up this morning and read these comments of encouragement and the feeling of community and sameness among us all. Thank you for taking time to share your comments.

  12. June 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Megan, you are so wonderful for sharing this. I think acknowledging when things are frustrating and hard makes it all the better when we recognize when things are super-awesome and breezy.

    Food preferences – be they for medical, ethical, religious, etc etc reasons – are our privilege to choose. We live in a culture where we HAVE a choice (amazing) and it’s difficult to feel on the fringe when your choices aren’t as easy to accommodate as say, the mainstream (whatever that is). I think it’s admirable to have convictions about how/ what you eat, and giving yourself permission to embrace that, guilt-free, is really important!

    I understand how you feel, entirely. Sometimes the challenges are hard, but the payoff for doing the best you can do for your body – and by extension, your whole life – is totally worth it.

    Good for you for putting this out there!

    • June 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      Amy, I so appreciated your comment – especially your point about food preferences being our privilege to choose. So true. Thank you!

  13. Sue
    June 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Megan- Thank you for sharing. Expressing true feelings of doubt, shame and frustration are good, especially when your readers (me) feel them regularly and want to make sure we’re not the only ones who struggle. I am not allergic to gluten or dairy but I do have health issues that some think being gluten, dairy and sugar free would help. I am in the throws of accepting this, it is extremely hard. I am a very rational person, but no matter how much I read about the benefits of this new diet all I can think about is what I can’t have. No more summer night trips with my husband to get frozen yogurt. No Chick-fil-A drive thru runs after a long work day and neither of us feel like cooking. No more going out to a nice restaurant for date night (I live in Orlando and there are VERY few restaurants who cater to this type of diet). It’s frustrating. I also feel guilty because I’m imposing this on my husband, who would eat bacon, steak and cheese all day if I let him. And now he’s trying vegan “cheese”, quinoa and all kinds of other healthy things that don’t always taste the way he expects. It’s tough. And the “rest” of the world, including my husband, doesn’t truly know how tough it is to consciously change a way of thinking, eating, shopping and social interaction…even though it’s the “healthy choice”.

    Anyway, I’ll stop my rant. Let me finish by saying, this post meant a lot to me. It struck a chord that is helping me through my lifestyle shift to being gluten free. So, thank you for taking the time to be honest. I appreciate it!

    Looking forward to trying more of your recipes, Sue

  14. June 23, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Thanks for getting real, Megan. I am like you, I try to keep it positive and look on the bright side, but sometimes it is really hard having food allergies in social situations. Or when you’re stinkin’ tired and don’t want to cook. No matter how good you try to keep your attitude, there are moments when you do feel like you dropped your lollipop (love that). I’ve gotten where I really don’t mind drinking coffee while my friends eat, and I have learned I won’t die from being hungry. In it’s own funny way, that is a positive too, because it makes you a stronger person.

    In the meantime, I don’t hurt so much, my asthma is under control, and I don’t feel like someone sandpapered my guts. As far as the people at the next table go, if they feel free to share their opinions about someone else’s disability like that it says volumes about their lack of humanity. Much less simple manners.

    • June 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      Thanks so much Cheryl for the lovely comment. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better health-wise.

  15. Sara
    June 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Thank you so much for your post! It was refreshing to read and know that there are people that can relate out there and I am not alone. I have a severe gluten allergy along with multiple food sensitivities to dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, walnuts, shellfish, amaranth, teff, etc. Also, I have issues with high ammonia, so I have to limit my animal protein, so I am pretty much vegan now and that is a new change for me. I am struggling with the adjustment a little bit, but I know that it is for the best and is only going to help me. I have some family and friends that are gluten free, but don’t find it too difficult to eat out. I have only started eating out again in the last year. It can cause me a lot of anxiety and I feel like I can be such a bother when it comes to ordering. But I am mostly positive about it and feel better when I follow it. I realize that it could be so much worse, so I’m thankful that I have the power to make good choices about my health, even though they are sometimes difficult. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your experience!

  16. June 28, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    Your bullet points are almost identical to mine, except I am the person with the laundry list of “special needs” in my diet. I used to LOVE going out to eat in restaurants and having food adventures with very few parameters. I love being so healthy, but I also miss approaching food with a sense of abandon.

  17. Jennifer
    June 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Thanks for your insight- just when I’m feeling low (my family wishes I would just eat some cheese already and get ‘over this’) I read an epic outpouring of emotion that feels like a twin version of my own, and I feel ok. It’s all going to work out. Thanks so much:)

  18. Joy
    June 30, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    I just found your website tonight and I am so glad to have read this post. I have recently become GF. I have Crohn’s Disease and I truly believe that the CD has masked the symptoms of gluten intolerance for perhaps decades. Emotionally, I feel like I’ve maybe lost a lot of time battling symptoms I didn’t have to if I’d only known that gluten was an issue but I didn’t and no one had ever suggested it.

    Anyway, I am already vegetarian (almost vegan) and have dealt with the embarrassment of asking for special treatment when out with friends and mostly I don’t mind even the snide comments that others make because I feel like they are the ones that will someday have to wonder if what they put in their mouths ruined their health.

    However, this weekend (my birthday), I was out with my husband and some friends at a taco place and my husband forgot to order my taco with a corn tortilla. Everyone, including my husband, acted like I was being a princess for refusing to eat the white tortilla that came with the taco. For the first time since starting this GF journey, I actually felt like crying. Nothing upset me more than to feel like he wasn’t on my side. I laughed it off, but it hurt me deeply. I’m already dealing with a lot with my disease and this recent lifestyle change and it just felt like a betrayal.

    So, reading your post, I feel like I have allies here. Thank you. I type this with tears feeling like I don’t have to do this alone. Thank you.

    • July 1, 2013 at 8:30 am #

      Joy, I’m glad you’ve found Megan’s site, too! It’s a great resource – and yes, please know you are not alone. Feeling unsupported is so rough, especially when you’re dealing with something that is out of your control.

      Congratulations for getting in touch with what works for your body: know that you are lightyears ahead of many people who choose not to pay attention to how food affects them, and that by doing what’s best for your body, you are being the opposite of high-maintenance. You’re being sensible and in tune with what you need. That’s commendable! Stick to it: the others will come around when they see the huge shifts it makes it all areas of your life.

      Take care!

    • July 2, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      What a heart-touching comment Joy. (Sorry I didn’t reply right away, long weekend here and I promised I’d unplug.) You will always have allies and support here. I like to think we have a pretty positive little community happening. Please always feel free to reach out. You are not alone.

      There are folks who we are very close with in our lives who still don’t ‘get’ or perhaps just don’t respect our choices/needs. I keep thinking that one day they’ll recognize why we’ve been taking such care with what we eat and wish they had done the same. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Even so, we take comfort in knowing we are doing our bodies good.

      Take care and keep up the good efforts in the journey for your health.

  19. July 9, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Thanks for this honest post. It expresses how I feel in many situations. I’m way more comfortable asking for what I need at restaurants but adding GF to vegan may just push the server (and my omnivore husband) over the edge! At different times, I’ve been vegetarian, fish-eating, gluten free, etc. I’ve been vegan since November 2012 and on-and-off GF vegan. I find it really difficult unless I cook everything myself (which can be tiring at times). My body does a lot better GF so today was my first day back as a GF vegan. I feel great but am actually sad to see gluten go. It’s a mainstay for eating out and it’s my go-to snack (crackers, bread, etc).

    That being said, I’m vowing to embrace this life this time around. I know it’s how I feel my best and I truly feel it can become second nature if I put the effort in at the beginning. Finding this site is a great start!

    • July 11, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

      I’m glad you stopped by and commented Lori. People will learn to accept your gluten-free and vegan lifestyle choice and the more consistent you can be with it, the easier it seems to be for people to take it as seriously as you do. Please feel free to stop by often even just to say hi, ask questions, vent, etc. whenever you feel like you need a little extra push to keep on the right track. Cheers!

  20. Debbie Brooks Riffel
    July 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    I agree, and if you hold it in, it festers, like gluten in the intestines! lol I am a vegan and just found out that I have damage from Celiac. I am in a small mid-western town, where bbq is on every menu and if you ask for something without meat, they ask you if you would like bacon! no really! That happened. My sweet husband went to be with Jesus at age 48 so I am going to be on this journey all alone so I am happy to have the internet. I will keep you and your husband in my prayers, please do me too! God bless! :)

    • July 11, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

      I am glad the internet brought you here today Debbie. :) I hope that you return often and please know that should you need questions answered or need a bit of encouragement you’ll find it here. You won’t have to make this journey completely alone. Take care.

  21. Ira
    July 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you for your honest post. I really feel like the limits on what I can eat and where I can eat are frustrating. I only recently found out the damage that Gluten and Dairy have done on my body and really didnt have time to adjust to this whole new GFV lifestyle. Especially when it comes to a date night (embarasing times when you are supposed to look like a girl who eats more than just a salad), or a girls night out. Just decided to say that its great to have some support and to have someone else on this side of the GFV fence beside you. Your webpage is on my favorites list and those days that I feel alone on this hard but oh-so liberating journey, I turn to your page. So a Big Huge THANK YOU!!!!! Keep smiling :)

  22. Rachel
    July 23, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    This post of yours, Megan, is wonderful.

    I am a Gf-vegan….by choice. I have no allergies. I love animals and hate factory farming and the abuse and torture that animals endure at the hands of humans.

    After much research I concluded that wheat is unnecessary and unhealthy as part of the human diet. My problem is finding items that are wheat free in the small Colorado town that I live in. So I buy a lot of food items on line. However, that poses it’s own problems. Like recently I ordered some nutritional yeast from Hossier Hill Farm. I was happy when it arrived only to find out that it is “packaged in a facility that processes soy, wheat, milk and eggs.” It took almost two weeks to get here, so do I feel like sending it back….no. My husband and dogs eat it.

    We eat out at out favorite restaurant in town once in a great while, which is a Mexican restaurant. I always order beans and rice (beans are not fried) or avocado salad, but it does get old going out and having the same thing. Also, I can’t stand the smell of cooking flesh and all the restaurants in this town serve flesh. We don’t go out very often, needless to say.

    I too, in moments of weakness, when wish I didn’t have the information that I do have. I wish I could go into McDonald’s, being totally ignorant of realities, and eat fun food.
    But then I think of my fellow creatures that I love and the damage people are doing to themselves and the moment passes.

    Thank you, Megan, for your post, and fine recipes. You’re an angel for helping so many.
    You are doing a wonderful mitzvah and a great job!

    • July 23, 2013 at 11:19 am #

      Thank you so much for your kind words Rachel.

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