Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I am Human, Shit Happens

I like to think of myself as cool as a cucumber when it comes to being a glutard. You want to accommodate me? Fantastic. You don't want to? That's cool too. Years of experience have taught me to roll with the punches. There'll be wins and there'll be losses, but the losses don't get any better if you have a temper tantrum. That said, I had a bit of a glutard meltdown in Montreal. I can't eat gluten, but I also don't like to eat a lot of meat and I still hate mushrooms. If you're traveling to Montreal (and I'm guessing the same is true for France) and want the French food experience, prepare yourself for meat, cheese, and bread. The combination of my allergy and my pickiness made it hard for my boyfriend and I to find a restaurant that would please us both. Knowing that I was difficult on many levels made me feel even worse because I didn't want to be a pain, but I also didn't want to spend money on a meal that I knew I wouldn't enjoy. I didn't want to deprive him of his French cuisine experience, but I also didn't want to watch him eat a mind-blowing meal while I nibbled on a side of air. I was already hungry and I hate being hungry. Insert meltdown here. Lucky for me, my boyfriend is a champ and handled it like a pro. 

Food is an emotionally-charged subject for me. I have loved sharing food with people my entire life -- from birthday cakes to holiday meals to take-out with my friends. I have made it a point to not let my gluten allergy prevent me from connecting with people over food. Usually that means being upfront about my allergy so people are armed with the information they need to decide if they want to accommodate me or not. Sometimes that means making a couple of dishes to share at a potluck if I want a main course and a dessert. Sometimes that means sneaking food into weddings or dissertation defense parties so I don't have to awkwardly watch everyone eat while I remain hungry. But sometimes it is hard. Sometimes I just cannot partake in something no matter how hard I try. Traditional poutine is not something I could share. Steak is not something I want to share. Navigating a gluten allergy is a continuous process -- things can vary from day to day. I am not proud of my meltdown, but it happened. As hard as it is to believe, I am imperfect. And that is okay. I can strive to be better, but I won't let me beat myself up over an occasional hiccup. The best thing to do is figure out what led to the meltdown, then figure out how to prevent that from happening again. 

Live, learn, repeat. 

ADDENDUM: The boyfriend wanted me to mention that all ended well. I freaked out about my dietary needs and preferences, but that didn't prevent us from having a great meal that satisfied both of us. Thank goodness for places like Zero8 that make it easy for everyone to eat! :)

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