Sunday, March 4, 2012

Compassion for All

As an allergy mama, I constantly read blogs of other parents and allergy sufferers that write about their experience, their knowledge, and especially their recipes!  I gain valuable insight and perspective by sharing a moment in their life.  I learn vicariously from the both the failures and triumphs of navigating this food centric world with multiple allergies.

The message of one particular blog has burrowed its way into the corner of my brain, where it quietly taunts me at odd moments.  I vividly remember reading the frustrated voice of this gluten free blogger exasperated by the people around her that continually lament about the difficulties of gluten free living. Her message was, essentially, that we should all stop complaining because this lifestyle change is not truly so difficult.  Just eat whole foods and everything is wonderful.

What complete and utter ridiculousness.  I fully understand that in her world gluten free eating was not a daily battle that left her feeling weary and defeated at the end of each day.  She was able to embrace this change to her relationship with food, and seize the opportunity to eat healthier foods as a result. Bully for her.

Do I sound bitter? Maybe just a smidgen irritated.  Gluten free eating can help lead to a healthier eating pattern, and it can be done with relative ease if gluten is the only food being avoided.  For people with multiple allergies, who already have a list of foods to avoid that is extensive, gluten free living is anything but easy.  If you are new to gluten free living, it is certainly not easy.  Gluten free is an operating system outside the cultural norm, far from what most people are accustomed to, and parting with a dietary staple takes serious adjusting.

Everyone adjusts at their own pace.  Some days are harder to get through than others, the changes seem magnified and more difficult to manage.  Those are the times I tend to focus on when I blog, because those are the moments when people most need support.  They need to know that others have lived through the same emotions and challenges, and come out victorious on the other side.  I focus on the negative becuase it is hard, and people need to know that they are not alone, and that it is ok to struggle.

Really, not many people seek support on the days when they feel positive and in control.

I am not unaware of the positive aspects of allergy and gluten free eating, I know we eat healthier as a whole. We are sick much less often because our diet is so healthy.  I have learned how to prepare a few quick meals, and lazy meals, and the slow cooking comfort foods.  I have come to enjoy the challenge of creating tasty food that is safe for the entire family.  I even have a handful of recipes I can serve to company without apology for serving food outside of the average comfort zone.

There are days when people ask "What do you eat?!?" Often I want to respond "Um. Food. Duh." because while the list of what we avoid is long, the list of foods available at the store is so much longer.  There are hundreds of options, and we enjoy eating so many foods that are normal.  Most days gluten free, allergen free living is just, well, life.  I manage it.

But some days are hard.  And I challenge anyone who can not see that to cook a day in our diet.  Don't discount the struggles of another merely because you have mastered their challenge.  Respect that they have not achieved mastery and seek to support them.

I understand, also, that many parents struggle with burdens far greater than my own.  They inspire me to focus on the positives in my own household.  I am blessed in so many ways every day, even if I occasionally kvetch more than I should.