Gluten is my Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free by April Peveteaux
Nearly a year ago, I was diagnosed as a Celiac. That conversation was not fun and honestly, it felt like the end of the world to me. One day, I could eat whatever I wanted, and then the next day it was ‘stop eating everything!’ (Well it basically felt like everything). In order to understand what a Celiac feels when we get that phone call, go through your pantry and remove everything that has a form of wheat, barley or rye in it. Put it on the table. That? That is what we cannot eat. When I cleared my pantry out, it was 90% of the food that I had stored.
To say that I was mad was an understatement. I went from being mad at myself for being sick, to being mad at the doctors for finding this (why couldn’t they have left me alone for a little while??), to being mad at everyone else for being able to eat gluten (why can you eat it, but I can’t???).
Many people say: well go on the internet. There are support groups and self-help books galore! But you know what!? Sometimes a self-help book is not enough. Sometimes you just want to bitch about this shittiness! April Peveteaux, in her book, Gluten is my Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free gives those of us that have been told, ‘no more wheat!’ a moment to bitch. She allows us to say, ‘you know what?! This sucks! But we’re going to make it work!’ And sometimes? That’s exactly what we need.
When the first chapter of a book is, ‘What to do when you’re crapping your pants,’ you know that it’s going to be a good book. Peveteaux gives it to you straight. People may joke about Celiac and give you a hard time over your ‘life choices,’ but for those with this diagnosis, food is even more life and death than it was before! And you know what? Nothing is pretty about Celiac. So the title of the first chapter is a perfect way to start. Nothing breaks the ice more than being glutened at work and having to mow over people as you dash to the bathroom before you pass out from the pain. Oh yeah, that totally happened to me.
You may be reading this and suddenly think, ‘glutened? Ashley, that’s not a word.’ Let me tell you, when you are diagnosed as Celiac, it quickly becomes a word and it is a horrible crime against your person.
Peveteaux also discusses the do’s and don’ts of living with Celiac; she shares her personal struggles (which certainly made this book more relatable and less a doctor telling you what to do); she discusses things like suddenly becoming afraid to eat out or travel and tips for how to be successful. It’s tempting to simply hermit and never go out, but really, that’s not healthy either. As Peveteaux states, gluten-free is becoming more well-known in restaurants throughout the world, and simply mentioning to the waiter/waitress that a little careful prep is needed is 9 times out of 10, never a problem. I have to say that when I mention to a waitress/waiter that I am Celiac and require gluten-free, when they go out of their way going through the menu with me, that restaurant quickly becomes my ‘safe to eat zone’ and I attend there whenever I can.
As Peveteaux states, Celiac is a very public disease (yes, to those you have this unfortunate conversation with, it’s not a life choice, it’s a disease!). Going out requires research beforehand, and discussing with the staff about your issue with gluten. The more open with it you are, the better they are going to understand and be careful when prepping your food. Day trips in the beginning terrified me. Going to a market place went from a grand adventure to a place that I felt I couldn’t eat anywhere. What was I going to do, go to each individual stand and ask about possible gluten-free products? That is exhausting. Or I’ll just eat a salad (and sometimes those aren’t even safe!). Peveteaux discussed her inhibitions with telling people and initially, I had this problem as well. I was emailing fellow Celiacs what they did when invited to a barbeque! I agree with Peveteaux. In certain, and many, circumstances, telling people can be terrifying.
Gluten is my Bitch is great because it’s funny, honest and real. I have the attitude that if you cannot laugh about it, you will drive yourself mad, and Peveteaux seems to also have that outlook. Her advice is from experience; what she is writing about is what she has gone through, failures and successes alike. And while it is okay for a doctor to scold you for ‘cheating’ and potentially hurting yourself, it is even better to hear from another Celiac, ‘you know what?? I just wanted a friggin’ croissant!’
Throughout the book, Peveteaux also provides numerous recipes for every meal of the day. Learning to eat gluten-free is one thing, learn to cook (especially bake!) is a whole ‘nother ball game! I noted a number of them to try in the future because they just sounded tasty! With that Peveteaux has made her book a success, because the minute you become excited about gluten-free food, you know you are going be okay.