Being raised in a fairly traditional Italian household, food was closely associated with love. Feelin’ sad? Have some of Nonna’s biscotti. Tired? Momma make you a frittata. Something to celebrate? Let’s make some homemade pasta and roast a baby goat. Fallin’ over and scraped your knee? Momma make a fresh batch of zabaglione or chocolate custard or both. Food, in the Italian culture is the bandaid, the peacemaker, the shoulder to cry on, the counsellor. Food is love.
You can imagine the devastation when I discovered and was diagnosed with coeliacs. Like an avalanche, the thought of eliminating each gluten food added another boulder, then a cliff face, then the entire mountain. Each realisation gaining in momentum and strength and burying my world, my security, my culture, my love. The realisation of never being able to eat pizza, pasta, Momma’s homemade bread, focaccia, stuffed artichokes, crumbed eggplant, cutlets and biscotti was a life sentence of rejection, pain and lovelessness. There was a real sense of loss, a grief for a culture I’d always known, for a love I always related to and relied on. My Mum and my family grieved with me. I was exiled from a life I loved and enjoyed.
Fortunately the devastation was short lived. I allowed myself to wallow in self pity for a while, I lapped up the attention from those who empathised and when I had enough of missing out, I set out to find a life after gluten. Like a mad scientist I researched, experimented, taste tested and delved deep into my creative mind to re-create all that I loved and missed. I was creating a new world, mimicking my favourite traditional or conventional recipes with whole, clean ingredients. I was loving food again and even better, food was loving me. My family’s curiosity grew with each new dish I shared at our gatherings and my dishes were gaining popularity. I was having a love affair with fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables. I had a new love!
Three years on, I eat cleaner and love food more than ever. Life not only exists after gluten, it damn well rocks! I have been fortunate and am grateful to pass on this revelation to others through my business and I gain more satisfaction each time an unsuspecting customer discovers life after gluten, dairy, grain and sugar! If you are eliminating gluten, grain, sugar or dairy from your diet to compliment your hard work in training, whether you are eating clean by choice or the choice is made for you, my recommendation is to embrace the change. Live it, love it, get creative and rock your gluten free world with vibrant, living foods that will love you back!