My entire life, I’ve had a very complicated relationship with food. I think it probably started when I was a toddler and just starting to eat real food instead of formula and baby mush from a jar. My mom (claiming she didn’t know any better) said that she thought I had to have a hot meal three times a day so she insisted on feeding me TV dinners. Which, this being the early 80s, were probably way, way worse for you than the average microwavable meal of today.
It only got worse from there, as one of my favorite treats growing up were left over scraps from my grandmother’s pie crusts which were dipped in cinnamon and sugar before baking. She also (again, attempting to make up for what my parents didn’t give us) liked making us pizzas every Friday when we stayed over during my dad’s visitation weekends. We got every kind of cookie we could ever want and she loved baking, so I requested coconut cream pies (my favorite) every chance I could.
At home, we didn’t eat a lot of fresh anything, except maybe fruit. Most of our food came from boxes, packages of one kind of another or a can. Because we ate so many canned vegetables growing up, doctored with Country Crock, sugar and/or salt (when really, they didn’t need any more salt), I can’t stand to eat canned veggies today except in certain casseroles. McDonald’s, Dairy Queen (it was on the way home from my junior high) and Pancho’s, a Mexican all you can eat buffet with free sopapillas were places we visited on the regular. We loved Little Caesar’s (even though it was a 20 min drive away) because of how cheap the pizzas were. Many Sundays my stepdad would point the car (post church service) to a grimy little neighborhood in Fort Worth a few miles away to get greasy barbecoa, the most delicious home made corn tortillas I’ve ever wrapped my mouth around and a big container of menudo for himself, since none of us would eat it after we found out what was in it. Slow cooked shredded beef cheek was apparently OK but stewed cow stomach? Nope.
I developed, as a teenager, a long term addiction to nacho cheese Doritos and Dr. Pepper. I could eat an entire family-sized bag of those by myself over the course of a single half hour TV show if given the chance. There was a Dairy Queen on the way home from my junior high that I hit up nearly every single day for a Dr. Pepper with change I stole from my parents’ change jar in their bedroom. In the summer, bored out of our minds, my parents would sometimes throw a fiver at each of us and tell us to go for a walk, which meant walk to the gas station a few blocks away or to the McDonald’s (which wasn’t much farther away than the gas station).
Things didn’t get much better after I got married, when Hamburger Helper became a regular staple in our diet. Due to my insane work schedule and me being on Welbutrin though (which is an antidepressant with mild appetite suppressant properties), I managed to keep my weight down to a manageable level.
But I never stopped eating the bad shit. I still crave it like a junkie needing a fix in the worst way. Right now, I am salivating at the idea of diving face first into the largest bag of Doritos I can find with a 64 oz Dr. Pepper to slake my thirst and a Skor bar to top it off because my brain insists I can’t have savory or salty without sweet to chase it with.
I also adore, more than almost anything else (including Doritos and Dr. Pepper), any kind of bread or pasta. If Doritos and Dr. Pepper are my nicotine, then bread is my heroin. I could quite easily die happily in a bread overdose.
Every time I turn around, there is more and more research that says gluten (the thing that makes bread bread) is bad for you. Or maybe it’s not. They’re not sure. But if you asked most people, especially those like me who are addicted to the diet-of-the-moment, they’d probably say that gluten was Satan. Tasty, tasty, delicious, butter-slathered Satan. They say if you don’t consume gluten then you’ll drop pounds like crazy.
So for a week…I’m going totally gluten free. Except for pizza on Friday. Because dammit..after five straight days of no bread, no pasta and no cereal (which for me is a double whammy of gluten AND sugar because I adore Frosted Mini-Wheats), I’m going to need a cheat meal.
I’m not looking forward to this. I know that I’ve got to change my relationship with food. I know it’s going to be difficult. And maybe, maybe going gluten free is one small way I can take back control.
Because lord knows ain’t nothing else worked so far. And what have I got to lose except a few pounds?