What’s yer poison?

12Dec08

xmas cookies

I have a dear friend who discovered she had celiac disease about two years ago. If you’re not familiar with the disease, those who have it can’t eat anything that contains gluten — a protein in wheat, barley and rye.

Their bodies can’t process the protein and have an abnormal immune¬†reaction, and this can lead to malnutrition, diabetes, thyroid and liver disease (to name just a few problems), and even intestinal cancer. In short, it can be life-threatening.

To stay well, people with celiac disease must avoid gluten for the rest of their lives.

That means no partaking of the obvious suspects: bread, pizza, pasta, cereal, cookies, cakes – you name it. In short, the staples of many Americans’ diets — including mine.

Gluten is also frequently a hidden ingredient in plenty of not-so-obvious foods: sauces, soups, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, ice cream, toothpaste – even lip balms, medicines, vitamins, stamps and envelopes. It can even be found in foods that don’t contain gluten, when oils, grills, utensils or other cooking devices get contaminated.

And I thought I had it bad.

I just have to not drink alcohol to stay well. It’s easy enough to spot that offending substance. And even though it often seems to me like alcohol is everywhere and unavoidable, I think keeping gluten-free might be a tougher challenge than keeping alcohol-free.

Not to minimize the struggle we alcoholics face in our daily lives. But it did help put things in perspective when my friend empathized with my complaint about how difficult it was proving, in the earliest days of my sobriety, for me to avoid alcohol.

She told me that people say to her, “Oh, just have a little bite.” “Have one cookie. What can it hurt?”

They don’t realize the potential for disaster.

I’m thankful that she discovered her disease and how to combat it, just as I am thankful for Alcoholics Anonymous as a way to battle mine. I’ve become more aware of people suffering from celiac disease, and I try to make sure there are options for her when we choose a restaurant for dinner, or when I have her over for a meal or party. Likewise, she’s been understanding and adaptive to my forbidden substance.

Plus, we can always commiserate about the fact that neither of us can drink beer.

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One Response to “What’s yer poison?”

  1. 1 kj

    “what’s yer poison” is the perfect title. it’s true, we all have a poison. figuring out what it is is just the beginning. I’m glad GF can inspire AF. if it makes you sick, it’s not that great anyway. donuts smell better than they really taste! xo


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