At 23, I was adjusting to post-college life. I was working full-time during the week, hanging out with friends on the weekend, and living with three roommates. Life was good. That is, until my unhappy stomach started to mess with my life.
After deciding it wasn’t normal to be full to the point where I couldn’t stand after drinking two beers, and after dealing with many sleepless nights due to stomach pain, I went to the doctor and found out I had a gluten sensitivity — and that eventually, it would turn into an allergy.
Although I was sad to say goodbye to the bread, pasta, pizza, and granola bars I loved and ate for 23 years, I was ready to find new, favorite gluten-free substitutes. Sure it was hard to stick the diet when watching friends indulge in my old favorites when out to dinner. But at home, it was easy because I only cooked for myself.
After almost a year of adjusting to my new gluten-free life, I was doing great. But then I moved in with my boyfriend and everything changed.
I wasn’t cooking just for myself anymore. As an excited newbie to cohabiting, I made us dinner every night. I borrowed old cookbooks from my mom and scanned Pinterest for meal ideas for two. Of course, I made each meal gluten-free, therefore putting my boyfriend on the diet too.
Two months later, I started to get lazy with the ‘cooking for two’ every night. And because of my sudden desire to NOT cook, my boyfriend started buying easy meals he could microwave himself. None of these were gluten free of course. So on nights when I would be having a low calorie gluten-free meal, I would get jealous watching him eat something full of gluten, so I would pick at it. The same would happen any time he was eating snacks, any time we were out to dinner and free bread came to the table, or any time he wanted pizza. I had FOMO with food, and I was too comfortable around my boyfriend to have any willpower.
I gained 15 pounds in the first six months of us living together. Much of this was due to the fact that my food FOMO led me to try and keep up with the amount of food my boyfriend was eating, but it was also because I was eating foods I was allergic to – and my body didn’t like that.
Eventually, I decided this madness had to stop. I cleared the fridge and cabinets of anything that was not healthy and gluten-free, and I told my boyfriend that he had to help and support me by not eating food I couldn’t eat in front of me.
This was probably a ridiculous and crazy way to go about solving my problem. Mostly because it did not work. He was miserable and hungry, and we were fighting because of it. In fact, we were fighting so much that we didn’t even know if we continue living together anymore.
But I didn’t want to break up. I realized I had been taking out my diet frustrations on him, so I put an end to it immediately and allowed him to start eating like a normal human being in front of me again. I promised I would try to stop taking my lack of willpower out on him. And I promised myself I would try and have some willpower.
Although digging into my boyfriend’s macaroni and cheese dish made me happy in the short-term, it made me feel sick, bloated, and miserable in the long-term. And it was taking a toll on my relationship.
It took me a while, but finally I realized that eating foods I was allergic to just wasn’t worth it. The weight I had gained wasn’t worth it. The acne I was getting from the gluten wasn’t worth it. The stomach pain and bloating I got after eating it wasn’t worth it. And the fighting with my boyfriend that happened because of it wasn’t worth it either.
Thanks to these realizations, I now have willpower. I can say no to pizza, even when my boyfriend is sitting next to me eating it, and I can say no to free bread at restaurants, even when the whole table is indulging.
Being gluten-free is hard. Especially when you’re like me and have a severe case of food FOMO. But what I’ve learned is that a piece of bread isn’t going to change my life or make my day better. I just have to say no.
Now, four years later, I just have to get drunk me to practice this whole ‘willpower’ thing. But, let’s be serious. That’s probably never going to happen. At least I’ve got the diet down sober.