A year ago – no wait, 6 months ago – no, when was it? I remember the Summer we redid the kitchen, and that was June 2015, was maybe one of my earliest recognitions of it.
I couldn’t tolerate bread well any more.
My sister is coeliac, and even though I’d been tested and it had come back negative the worry about wheat and gluten shot through my head. We’d spent 3 nights in a hotel in Cork as the works got underway. Big fried breakfasts each morning, with “French” rolls and white toast and lots of easy carbs. Then, renting a cottage down in West Cork, shopping for things easy to consume – again white bread was a staple. And my body started to object – and it started to object loudly enough for me to finally hear its cries over the sound of two small boys and the clink of my beer glass.
I quit bread (and notably not beer) for the rest of that Summer. Well, I quite white, uber-processed bread, but sampled some good slices of soda bread with a salad or soup, though only occasionally. The worst of my body’s raging subsided and as Autumn brought with it the time crunches of school, I found that my guts didn’t complain quite so vociferously to the introduction of the occasional bread-like substance.
I made my own ciabatta. I filled pocket after pocket of pitta. Bread became a staple of my diet again. Even that institution of bread-based lunch “the hot chicken roll” from the nearby convenience Deli was reintroduced.
And it was fine, until it wasn’t. I wasn’t paying too much attention, but stopping for a while allowed occasional dietary bread. And avoiding white fake-baguette (or “big bread” as my children call it) seemed to keep the worst of the symptoms at bay.
Somewhere between a year and six months ago I discovered that spelt and sourdough breads are the least aggravating to me, but I still kept them in moderation. Besides they weren’t that easy to come across on my weekly shop. I even considered developing the hobby of creating my own sourdough starters, but bread making – while interesting to me – is kinda far down my priority list.
Then last week I spotted it. My personal holy-grail of packed lunches: Sourdough sliced pan in Aldi.
So I bought it and I’ve had real ham sandwiches twice in the last day and a half, and toast and all manner of other good things. And I haven’t (yet) had any bad side effects. I’ve eaten more bread in the last two days than I’d been used to eating over the course of two weeks. And I don’t feel bad.
So, naturally, I feel bad about this.
You see, bread is the devil. And despite railing against not being able to eat it, I had a bit of secret joy that a food that was clearly and morally in the wrong was taken off my plate without my even having to make a willpower decision about it. Because that’s the true holy grail – dietary issues that aren’t so severe as to be life-threatening, but just difficult enough that what you can manage to safely eat is somewhat restricted.
And, you know, you lose weight. Because ABL. Always Be Losing.
I work in a pretty female dominated workspace, and it’s actually not the worst for lunch-policing. Most of the lunchtime food comments come from a place of interest rather than judgement about the health-value of what you’re eating. All the same, the mantras of Slimming World and Weight Watchers creep in. I find even their language to be kinda scary. Syns. Sins. Eating certain foods is sinful. You will have to do the Penance of Salad.
I am thankful that I don’t know what foods are “Syns” because even though I’m in no way engaged in the Slimming World program, I am pretty certain that my first reaction to hearing the syn-ful list would be to purchase every single item on it, and they would then sing their sinning song from my cupboard ’til I ate up each last morsel, regardless of whether I wanted it or not, regardless of whether I liked it or not, certainly regardless of whether I was hungry or not.
Because I’m always hungry for things that are forbidden to me.
And after reading this article from Vox this morning about how we (women, mainly) use wine as an Instagram filter for our often disappointing or difficult lives, I’m also feeling a bit angry at society and its rules for what I can do and how I’m allowed to occupy space with my body, and what its acceptable to eat in public.
All the same, I haven’t made my peace with bread. Even bread my body says it’s okay to eat.