Earlier I had a nice wander around Sunderland, a smaller city fairly close to where I live. It costs me the same on the metro to get there as it does Newcastle, and it only takes 5-10 minutes longer, so although it’s not exactly on the list of top ten UK tourist destinations I thought I would go and have a look. I found a lovely museum and art gallery with a fascinating photographic portrait exhibition, walked around an indoor tropical garden and got chatted up whilst looking at some fossils (as you do). But – and I don’t say this often because I have done enough obsessing about food to last me several life times – the highlight of the day was my lunch. For the first time in three and a half years I bought a sandwich while I was out. A normal, wheat-infested, egg and cress sandwich from Starbucks, if the details matter! For the last few years I’ve only been able to eat a grand total of two boring-ass salads from one particular shop, heavily supplemented with cashew nuts and chocolate to bring up the calorie content. It doesn’t matter how many different things I try to add to it, I have eaten enough soggy potatoes, slightly gone off cherry tomatoes and translucent cucumber slices to last me another several life times.
Having only ventured into the ginger biscuit area of wheat territory before, I was a bit scared of my sandwich. But I was fine, and still am. I even ate a chocolate brownie (also wheat!) afterwards. The next thing on my list is to go out to a NORMAL restaurant (as much as I love my local GF cafés, and will still be visiting them for dairy free cake and vegan pizza!) with Jonathan. I’m excited by the prospect of being able to eat more than chips or salad when I’m out in town!
This is all quite reminiscent of early weight restoration. I remember feeling overwhelmed and thrilled at the variety of food I was now “allowed” to eat, not really knowing where to start. I also remember the utter terror when trying something new for the first time. It’s been the same with reintroducing wheat, really, even though my avoidance was due to medical problems rather than eating disordered ideas. I was terrified because of my emetophobia – the idea that I might be eating something which will make me feel sick in a few hours is hard to get past. I remember the last time I accidentally ate wheat – April 2009, right at the start of my recovery – I was in agony for hours. But it appears that my digestive system has healed a lot since then and adverse reactions this time around has been an unfounded fear, which makes me very happy and much more daring 🙂
Ever since I’ve been gluten free I’ve wondered why the hell people do it if they don’t need to. Unless you have coeliac disease or a genuine allergy or intolerance, it’s not healthier and it can get very expensive. Some people say that wheat makes them bloated – I’m fairly sure my IBS has ensured that I didn’t have a flat stomach even when my BMI was crazy-point-scarylike and I wasn’t touching gluten, so it’s not the answer to all digestive problems. Other than that, wheat flour has more fibre, vitamins (Bs in particular) and protein than regular GF flour, so it’s more likely to keep you full for longer and keep your blood sugar stable. How on earth has gluten free become synonymous with healthy living? Weird. I was glad that I couldn’t digest gluten when I was anorexic because it put so much food “off limits” to me and gave me a legitimate excuse not to eat what everyone else was eating. But in recovery it’s just been a major pain in the ass, and although I’ve been scared of how my body would react I have been waiting to be able to reintroduce wheat for AGES. I wish I could reintroduce dairy too, but since allergies don’t tend to resolve themselves like intolerances can I think I’m done with that.
I have my fingers firmly crossed that my reintroduction campaign continues to go well. I want to be able to have what everyone else is having (albeit dairy free) when I go to Washington, and I want to be able to go to more than two restaurants in Newcastle, and I want to be able to eat more random sandwiches from shops when I’m out, and I want to eat proper cake again, and…