We’re About to Become “Those People”

When my wife and I first started dating, she didn’t have terribly broad culinary horizons. She existed mostly on pizza and pasta. Some nights she would just sit at home and eat brie and crackers. Over the last 12 years she’s learned to love a lot of different foods (but I still can’t get her to eat poultry or chocolate).

It’s time for her diet to change again. Last week she spent a night in the hospital with some pretty serious digestive system issues. Thankfully tests for anything “serious” were all negative but we got one last test result today…she has Celiac. Starting now we’re eliminating gluten from her diet.

Obviously there are a couple of ways to look at this. On the one hand, this really blows. Her days of going to any restaurant and ordering whatever she wants are now over. She’s eaten her last Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza (her favorite) and her last pretzel at the United Center during Bulls games (our usual halftime snack). But on the other hand, and more importantly, she can start to feel like herself again now that she knows what the problem is.

Fortunately we know a ton of people who live a gluten free life and so she already has a community to reach out to. We’re going to Nico on Saturday night for a birthday celebration and the restaurant has already confirmed that they can accommodate her dietary restrictions. There is no doubt that our lives are now permanently changed, but there is no way we are giving up on the love of food that we share. It may take more work. It may take more cooking at home. But we fully intend to do what’s best for her health while maintaining a lifestyle that we both enjoy.

So, if you work in a restaurant and you’re reading this, I apologize in advance for bugging you over email or when we come in about your gluten free options. We’re not being difficult for the sake of being difficult (this was diagnosed by a GI team at Northwestern based on biopsies).

Hopefully as we deal with this new wrinkle I can help educate others (as I learn) about how to still eat well in Chicago while dealing with a pretty significant dietary restriction. If anyone else out there is dealing with this, I would love to hear any tips and strategies that you have.


2 thoughts on “We’re About to Become “Those People”

  1. melissa mcewen (@melissamcewen)

    Chef Foss at El Ideas said they are considering doing some dedicated GF nights. Otherwise, Senza is fantastic, celiac or not, and has one of the few totally gluten-free kitchens in fine dining. I think more and more of these restaurants will open as diagnosis rates increase.

    I started researching this because there was some evidence gluten/wheat-free diets could help other digestive disorders. I now can tolerate some gluten, since I don’t have celiac, but I keep my kitchen gluten-free, mainly because I learned to cook without it and didn’t really miss it.

  2. Kaila511

    I’m not from the Chicago area, but the Gluten and Allergy Free Expo is in Chicago this April as a heads up. I’m sure it would be a great opportunity to learn about some new products as you’re learning the gluten free world! Good luck and best wishes to your wife! (I know my diagnosis was relieving, but overwhelming at the same time.)


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