Most people have to go through a grieving process when they lose something–even food. Sometimes it helps to simply recognize the grief for what it is. Allowing yourself to grieve helps you let go and move on.
I grieved when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease. In 2000, gluten-free was not a buzz term and people had never heard of celiac disease. More than once I got the response, “That’s weird.”
At social events there was no one else eating gluten-free. I don’t think I even knew anyone with a food allergy. I had to relearn cooking and baking and only had the help of a few library books and an online listserve.
I couldn’t go buy a loaf of bread. Well, I could, but it wouldn’t be good. I didn’t even like most of the pastas available at the time.
Going gluten-free was hard. Sure, I was feeling so much better, and grateful for an answer that didn’t require drugs, but it was still very difficult. I grieved.
I grieved the loss of food I loved, the loss of convenience, and the loss of social eating as I used to know it. It wasn’t long and drawn out. It wasn’t particularly intense, but it was a grieving process.
Soon I was excited about how much better I was feeling and all the new foods I was learning to make. I also enjoyed the challenge of working with new ingredients and coming up with new recipes that everyone in the family would enjoy.
That grieving experience taught me a lesson—that grief is not reserved only for times when people die. We grieve when we lose something that was important to us and that we cared about.
Maybe you let go of a dream in order to have children, or found that your dream was not all you expected from it. It’s amazing how helpful it can be to say, “I’m grieving over that,” and have a good cry or two or three about it.
Today, the gluten-free diet is not as difficult as it was when I first went gluten free, but it’s still a hard adjustment. It still requires letting go. It is still a loss for many people. Changing your lifestyle and eating habits for any special diet can lead to a need to grieve.
Have you experienced special diet grief?
My friend Shirley has written a post about Grieving Gluten which covers the five stages of grief plus one more. It’s worth reading.