There are two main reasons, as I see it, for the emotional pain that comes with having a gluten sensitivity.
First, there are the symptoms themselves. Some of them reduce your performance, which is very frustrating. Others cause depression, anxiety, brain-fog, and a host of similar symptoms that lead directly to emotional pain.
Secondly, there is the day-to-day dealing with people.
Some people may variously resent your special diet, not believe you have a problem, or have a problem caused by gluten, or contaminate your gluten-free food etc. Not to mention doctors who may have misdiagnosed you, or rejected the idea of non-classical celiac disease symptoms, or the idea of a gluten allergy etc.
I think that the degree of emotional pain, and your ability to manage it in part depends on your make-up as a person, and how much support you have from your family.
For myself, I don’t concern myself too much with what other people think. If they find a gluten-free diet to be weird, that’s their problem, not mine. Except when they’re cooking for me of course.
Eating at friends’ places (especially if they don’t know you that well) and worse, at restaurants is a stressful experience. I’d don’t really care what people think, but I really don’t want to be a pain in the ass either.
Years ago, when I started on my gluten free diet, most people found this strange. There was a lot of explaining to do. I found this wearing. My friends understood and frequently explained to waiters in restaurants for me – I was just bone-weary of explaining it all.
These days, it is much easier, because there is so much more awareness about celiac disease and the gluten free diet. Still, you have to be sure that whoever is doing the cooking is careful and doesn’t contaminate your food.
Because eating is a very social activity, this can be difficult. We all think we’re special, but we all want to fit in too. Having to eat something different from everyone else, especially when you have to bring your own food, is not socially comfortable.
Turning down the generous offer of food is also uncomfortable. It feels ungracious, and corrodes the forces that draw us together.
But that’s life on a strict gluten-free diet. Get used to it or suffer the emotional pain that comes with consuming gluten, and which stays with you long after friends, family and strangers have left for the evening. You’re stuck with a fuzzy head, messed up guts, depression, insomnia and all the rest. Not to mention a much higher chance of cancer and many other diseases (if you’re celiac, not so much for gluten allergies).
The symptoms of consuming gluten are like a force from the outside, dissolving your insides and your brain. Both emotionally and medically, these are hard to deal with.
Much better to train yourself to manage interpersonal relationships in a world contaminated with gluten.
I know it’s hard. I can count at least one relationship that didn’t reach its potential because of my need to be gluten-free (not so much because of my girlfriend at the time, but her family). That sort of thing sucks, but then again it is a kind of a test. Who knows what other issues might have taken the place of gluten in that case.
I know it’s hard, but if you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy, stick to your gluten free diet. It’s worth it!
What are your experiences with the gluten free diet and emotions? Leave a comment with your thoughts