“Is that gluten free?”

“Is that gluten free?”

Just typing it makes me cringe. I can hear myself say it, and I know how it sounds. But that sentence is my new reality. I’m fine with being annoying food allergy person. I’d ask you again, if it guaranteed I was eating something safe.

I recently learned I have an intolerance to gluten, and it’s changed my life. I can’t eat the leftover treats from client meetings, I can’t drink cheap beers and I can’t tell you how difficult it is to walk around New York City and smell the pizza without being able to eat it. But my body is slowly transforming from an angry, swollen cave monster to a happy, healthy human. I’m not nearly as mad about it as I thought I would be. I’m actually kind of excited.

There’s a reason I feel like crap. There’s a reason I’m tired. There’s a reason I have a migraine, all the time. All of the pain I put into feeling like this wasn’t for nothing. There was a reason, and now I have a new place to start from, and something to work towards. Sometimes, I feel like I’m doing great. Other times, it feels like two steps forward, one step back.

This past weekend, we went to Dorado Tacos just off Union Square. They had a generous amount of (and well-labeled) gluten free items. It was delicious, and I loved every part of it—except for the girl at the counter.

“Is the chorizo taco naturally gluten free, or do I have to order it that way?” I asked, my mouth watering with excitement of eating “normal people” food. She rolled her eyes out loud, muttered something about fad diets and launched into an explanation of the difference between corn and flour tortillas, neither understanding what I was asking nor the human element of living with a food allergy.

“Just making sure, because you never know,” I said loudly, hinting heavily that she was being rude. “If you accidentally give me flour tortillas, I’ll make sure to shit all over your floor,” I wanted to add.

I’m still new to this. When I’m at the grocery store, I’m glued to my $7.99 app that tells me which brands and ingredients are and aren’t gluten free, because what in the world is buckwheat? I geolocate gluten free options because it’s not so easy anymore. I indulge in overly-processed gluten free snacks, because I miss the real thing (hi, cookies). But I’m learning to make my own cookies. I’m learning what psyllium husks are, and the difference between xanthan gum and guar gum. I’m learning to eat more natural foods, because isn’t it nice to know what you’re putting in your body? Yes. It is.

Eventually, I’ll get the hang of this. Until then, please be patient with me. Even after I know what I’m doing, please be patient with me, because I’m still going to ask: Is that gluten free? Because if it’s not, and you give it to me anyway, I’m going to keel over in pain, then occupy your restroom for the next five hours. 

Do you have any great gluten free resources or favorite recipes? Let me know!