I went home starving…and that was fine with me

not eating with celiac

Here’s the situation last night: My good friend is home after nine years in Hong Kong. So I took a 3:30 train from Asbury Park up to Manhattan to grab dinner and a few drinks. While it’s not a long trip, NJ Transit has not updated their trains or their system since 1950, so the trip makes 87 stops and takes two hours. No worries…I had a large cup of coffee and a great, but disturbing, book so I was good to go. You may be wondering if I ate right before I left. Sort of. I had a light lunch at noon and then a PBJ on a rice cake around 2.

I arrive at Penn Station at 5:30, meet my friend and we just start walking south until we find a place that catches our eyes for a cocktail. We come across a Korean restaurant called Barn Joo Nomad that had a cool bar and in we went, sat at the bar and ordered two Serrano Margaritas (Serrano-infused tequila, agave, lime). Conversation flowed and our second drink was an Oaxaca Old Fashioned (818 Anejo tequila, agave, mezcal, orange bitters). The stomach started to rumble so we decided to grab a food menu and order up some nice Korean fare. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

While the menu was amazing, after asking questions about 7 different items on the menu (which I still hate doing by the way, even 11 years later), I wasn’t sure there was anything safe for me and I wasn’t about to risk it. My buddy was great and insisted we go somewhere else. But nothing close by looked appealing (or safe) and I loved the vibe of the place we were in. So what did I do? I ordered one more cocktail (back to the Serrano Margarita) and told my friend to order something so he could eat.

We continued the great conversation, he had a nice meal, and I had planned on catching a 9:20 train home. Unbeknownst to me, there was no 9:30 train home! There was an 8:22 train and the next train was 10:20. Did I mention how much NJ Transit sucks? I walked into my home at 12:30am.

So yeah…I went 10.5 hours without food. I watched my friend eat his dinner. And I came home starving. And you know what? I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Bad decisions can be made when you are hungry. But if I’ve learned anything over the past 11 years of having this crappy disease, skipping a meal is not the end of the world. Choosing to eat nothing at a restaurant instead of risking it is always the better call.

I hope you keep this in mind next time you are in a similar situation. Enjoy the company. Revel in the conversation. Savor the moment. Eventually, you’ll eat.

Speaking of Asbury Park, “Greetings from Asbury Park” was released 50 years ago today. If you haven’t seen this version of “Blinded by the Light”, enjoy:

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10 thoughts on “I went home starving…and that was fine with me”

  1. I was just talking about the “not eating” thing with my adult daughter last night. After all this time, she still feels uncomfortable eating in a restaurant while I sit across from her, not eating. Most of the time, it truly is NO BIG DEAL for me. 99.99% of the time I am happy just enjoying the company while tasting with my eyes. I call it Food Porn, lovely to look at but not available to actually engage with. However…and this is what we talked about. There are times when I feel like falling down on my knees sobbing, pounding the earth at the injustice, unfairness, and brutal deprivation this damn disease puts me through. I MISS GOING OUT TO EAT AT A NORMAL RESTAURANT, LIKE A NORMAL PERSON, WITH EVERYONE ELSE!!! I do. Very much. BUT…I don’t let myself do the ‘on my knees sobbing thing’ because, well, why? It wouldn’t make a bit of a difference and I hate getting all snotty and red-faced. Truth is, sitting at a table with friends, enjoying their company and the setting, is what ‘going out’ is about, isn’t it? The food is secondary or else we’d have all stayed home. So, you did good, Gluten Dude! Well done. Thanks for being the Adult at the table and making the right decision for you AND for setting an example that not eating at a restaurant is very often the very best thing to do. You ROCK, Gluten Dude.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. It’s the company that important not the food and when we think of the alternative, there is no other choice! 😹😹😹💝🥰

  2. This is so hard at times. Parents and friends are not comfortable with my not eating. But I’m with you and just don’t rather than risk something not safe. I try and make light of it and my standard line. “It will take several years for me to starve to death! “. Lol.

  3. Actually, I think I would have ordered a bowl of plain rice to offset the three cocktails. I am such a lightweight I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the train station after that.

  4. Michelle R. Stephens

    Thank you for sharing this Dude, and for the above commenters. I can easily sit with a margarita and visit with gluten eaters, I love people and enjoy restaurants (worked in restaurants for decades). Connections with our people are the most important.

  5. I could not agree with you more! It’s all about the company and the socializing! Food can wait and a little fasting never killed us!

  6. While I agree it is about the company and companionship, I would not be good company if I were “hangry”. You deserve to eat. There must have been something, anything, that you could use to quench your hunger. I guess it is even more important to carry some emergency munchies for times like this. Love your posts, Dude.

  7. My emergency munchies list has shrunk lately with Think bars once again on my naughty list. This time they’re randomly adding “facility” warnings on some batches. And I refuse to just hunt for clean ones. This puts me in the high rent district of Go Macro bars since they’re both certified GF and organic. I’m not a huge fan of nuts though, they tend to plug me up. So they’re only for emergencies. I got some certified GF and organic jerky to make up the difference. I feel like I’m being robbed. I very much prefer eating at home.

    But at least all the facial misbranding reporting to FDA has had an effect. Some people have sniffed an opportunity. I’ve been able to find Asian style dips and sauces lately, organic and GF certified. Many are produced in the US, including three types of hoisin sauce. I feel spoiled after about four years of zero Asian food. I still have to make it at home.

    But if I can do that, then restaurants can too. Even if that’s too much effort, I still don’t get why they don’t have a “clean microwave” and some frozen GF foods they can just prep for people by a trained member of staff. It seems insane that restaurants don’t offer this, at least none near me do, anymore. The pandemic killed the last one. There’s a cafe but it doesn’t really have a date night vibe.

    I love the Jersey Shore. There’s still a book kicking around about the history of it, called “The Steel Pier” if you’re interested. Big picture book. My high school special ed teacher was mentioned in it, she dove with the horses. But she never mentioned it. I was surprised to find her name and recognize her. (By definition anyone with English as a second language is special ed. /shrug) She was an awesome person to know and I’m so happy I got to know her.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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