Welcome to The Celiac Meditations! They are sweet snippets of encouragement to help people with celiacs (or other autoimmune or diet-related lifestyles). A little validation for the crazy feelings we feel. And a little bit of hope that it's all going to be okay. I hope you stick around. Leave comments below and share your experiences! xoxo steph
Today I ordered Jimmy John's for a friend who has no allergies or dietary restrictions.
It was liberating to feel normal.
"Everything. I want everything that you normally put on the sandwich. No special requests, at all. Just the normal. What everyone gets!" I say with a grin.
Because you know I'm the one that asks the waiter 700 questions before ordering. And then gives them the stink eye, just to make sure I can tell they really know what they're talking about. It's an interrogation and lie detector test, all before appetizers: that's my reality.
I look at the world around me and think -- you can eat that? Wow. And that? You can eat all of it! That's just amazing. Sincerely, it's amazing.
Apparently that's what's normal.
In normal, everything is fair game. Raw meat, berries on a bush, milk from animals, plants from the ground, Nutragrain Bars.
And another thing that's normal is eating at a restaurant.
Think about it. A public kitchen (you've never seen) that makes meals for 100s of people a day. AND WE LOVE IT. Most of us would prefer eating from a restaurant's plate over our very own any day of the week.
I know someone whose Carribbean mother called from the islands when he was out at an American restaurant. Her response was adamant and loud:
“You trust them?!”
She couldn't believe he would eat at a stranger's establishment. She obviously only ate in her own home and with people she knew. I mean I guess that makes sense. Our culture has normified dining in the arms of “strange” cooks.
To be clear, I think we have a cool culture. I wish I could eat at restaurants regularly. But the point is, it's still just culture.
And just because it's culture, doesn't mean it's necessarily “normal.”
When I studied in France, I would always ask my teacher if something was “normale” in France. Like I heard that French parents don't know who their child is dating usually, because they tend to date in groups.
"Ca c'est normale, Madame?"
She would always correct me. She would say that “normale” is a judgment statement. Instead we should use the world “courant,” which means “common.” It's like asking, is that common practice?
So -- Yes. It’s totally common for Americans to eat publicly, in restaurants, daily. It's also common that Americans eat every thing that resembles food that comes across their table.
But normal? That's for you to decide. I guess I'm not allowed to ask.
It’s not my normal. In fact I can only eat a few things down each grocery aisle. Think about that. Only a handful of items in each aisle align with the ingredients my body digests. And I don’t feel wrong, or bad, or even like I’m missing out. Because at this point in my life, I’m not interested in eating another migraine. Or indulging in a pouty mood.
Just because it's food for others. Doesn't mean it's food for me.
So what is it when we have a different normal?
It’s a lot like living in the world, but not being “of” it, to use Jesus' words. Of course he's talking about a spiritual walk. But this celiac practice seems find its way to being a micro-practice of bigger things.
How do I live, fully immersed in a world that eats and chooses a different normal? I live amazed at the people around me, their habits and food rituals.
And yet completely grounded in my own.
t h e c e l i a c m e d i t a t i o n
Just because it's my culture, doesn't mean it's good for me.