Friday, July 8, 2011

Going Gluten Free Grief

It all began with one little question from the grocery store cashier.  “Did you find everything you needed?”  “Yes” came out of my mouth but in my head where my brain has been soaking in celiac for a month and a half, the following unfurled…..I call it a Celiac Attack of sorts. ”No!  Hell no I didn’t find everything I need!  You’ve got to be kidding me, right?  I need a donut the size of my head.  I need about 1,000 more gluten free products in this store.  I need a deli manager who will agree to clean the slicer.  I need your tiny gluten free section to be relocated because I get depressed hanging out with magazines and the baby products that are too overpriced for anyone to journey there.  I need the gluten free, crap ass Styrofoam crackers to cost a little less than $5.26 a box.  I need a sale!  I need to walk out of here with more than seven items that cost a total of $80.00! And for the love of Christ please put the Dove chocolates on BOGO because this is crisis time!”  Of course none of that came out of my mouth. 
The cashier picked up each of my items as she scanned them and instantly her eyebrows lowered and her lips furled as if to say, “Hmmmm, I’ve worked here a long time and I’ve never seen this?” Then the question came….”Are you trying to eat gluten free?”  I responded, “Yes, I have Celiac Disease so I can’t eat glutens.”  The cashier said, “I’ve heard that can be painful……..ya know, with that shooting pain going down your leg.”  What?  Oh my God this lady had Celiac and Sciatica confused!  I wanted to laugh but I just smiled and nodded and pictured myself eating a donut the size of my head while I suffer extreme leg pain.  It was the perfect cure for my Celiac Attack. 
Sometimes there are moments of extreme joy at the grocery store.  You would have thought that I won the lottery when I found sunflower oil at Kroger….only $5.64!  On one fateful day I made my typical mad dash down Kroger’s health food aisle to the end cap only this time it was all happening in slow motion and I heard music playing in my head. My cart made the turn so smoothly despite my speed, and there I found, for the first time, Udi’s gluten free hotdog buns!  I grabbed the buns and for a moment thought that I should buy the mother lode inventory….all 4 of them.  You have to know that Udi’s hamburger buns are sought after like the latest and greatest Christmas toy…..a Cabbage Pack Kid or Tickle Me Elmo or Wii game system if you will.  You can’t find them anywhere including all of the weird gluten free online stores! 
Regrettably I only bought one and now I dream about how much I could have made if I bought them all and put a few up on EBay.  It was such a big win!  I looked around to make sure that no one would try to steal them out of my cart….only to snap back to reality knowing full well I am alone in the “special diets” aisle and my buns are safe and sound.  
 I really don’t have to go down any of the middle aisles but I always hit the cereal aisle in the hopes that Chocolate Chex has made their way to my store.   I have found that younger eyes are much more talented in finding the little “GF” that we all crave to see on packaging and we all instinctually cheer and pump a fist when luck shines on our side.  
 Gus is convinced that we should go Kosher instead of Gluten free because he sees those foods more often.  Mabel rides down aisles sitting in the back of the cart telling me that she will one day have her own line of gluten free foods called “Mabel Made It So It’s Good”.   She explains, “And everything will be really little because little food always tastes better than big giant food.”  The last statement reflects the fact that we have reached the sixth and final stage of Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ 6 Stages of Going Gluten Free Grief…..We’ve made it through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and now we’re in the rarely studied final stage of Reshaping……When you’re sick of eating all of the same foods over and over again, change their shape to something tiny and you will think it tastes better and it will buy you a few more days.   Mabel is so right, the new plan is to take a tiny biscuit cutter to everything we eat and it will be all good.   


  1. Awesome. That about sums up my shopping experiences.

  2. Rachel - while I cannot imagine your frustration I can certainly appreciate your gift! You have an uncanny way of putting your feelings and experiences into words - and even though you are clearly facing challenge - your story is encouraging and entertaining -

    Ever read Julie & Julia? Look forward to seeing your story made into a book/movie? :)