Dude note: This article was written by yours truly and appeared in the latest issue of Simply Gluten Free magazine. If you are not a subscriber, it’s a good magazine run by good people. More info here.
The gluten-free industry, for whatever reason, is represented in the public eye mostly people of the female persuasion. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I’m sure there are a plethora of gluten-free dudes out there, but I suppose they just keep a lower profile. It’s kind of like how we don’t ask for directions because “we’ll just figure it out.”
Well let me tell you…the gluten-free life ain’t easy to figure out; for anyone, regardless of which rest room door you choose.
Speaking from personal dude experience, talking about food and our health issues just doesn’t come as naturally to us. Don’t ask me why. It’s just one of our endearing shortfalls I suppose.
But there must be lots of dudes out there who are lost in the gluten-free wilderness; who are looking for someone to guide them through the bevy of dude activities.
Gluten Dude…at your service.
Let’s take a walk through some typical male activities and see how we can turn gluten-free frustration into a good time had by all. You’ll see two common themes along the way: making the best of things and being prepared.
Oh…and yes I know these are totally female-friendly activities too so please no “Gluten Dude is a sexist” emails to the good folks at Simply Gluten Free.
I’ll put these all into one “being one with mother earth” category. They mean being out in the wide open and not having any access to a refrigerator, freezer, wine cooler or juice bar.
My parents had a cool 17-foot Aquasport motor boat when I was growing up. We had a beac house at Long Beach Island and the boat was docked right across the street. Man was that awesome. My parents worked all week so my brothers and I had free reign with the boat. Sometimes you don’t realize how good you have it until you don’t have it anymore.
Anyway, if you are going on a simple day trip, it’s pretty easy to keep gluten-free. Pack snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. And not unhealthy crap that you might find in the gluten-free aisles of your local grocery store. Think smart. You want your energy to last for the entire day and not get dragged down by processed junk.
Here’s what I would bring for a day trip with mother nature: plain almonds, natural peanut butter (the kind that does not have to be refrigerated), bananas, apples, chocolate bars (a little won’t hurt), and tons of water.
I wish I could tell you I have fond memories of going to the NY Giant football games with my dad when I was young. But my only memories are of not being able to feel my feet because it was so ungodly cold. You see…my dad could only get tickets for the games later in the season. And when I was young, the Giants were awful; kind of like they are now but with absolutely no hope for the future. So we’d go to games against some crappy team in early December and absolutely freeze our rear ends off. Bonding with my dad was awesome…the rest of it…not so much.
Anyway, the tailgating parties I experienced back in the day don’t even compare to some of the tailgating parties I’ve seen recently. I mean people seriously go ALL OUT.
So what do you do if you’re invited to the big game and the festivities beforehand consist of burgers, dogs, ribs, bbq chicken and tons of other food items you can’t partake in?
If you’re hell-bent on joining in the grilling activities, bring your own food, condiments and utensils so you know they’re safe. Then grab a spot on the grill that will be reserved just for you. Scrape the heck out of that section of the grill and toss your food on. Now here’s the important part: do not take your eyes off that grill. One slip up from someone else and your meal, your game, and possibly your next few weeks, are ruined.
I thank my lucky stars that I was already married to the wonderful Mrs. Dude when I got my celiac diagnosis. Between the celiac, my cancer and my blood clots, I’m not exactly the catch I once was in my younger days.
But if I had to date now? Oh boy, I’d be a lost soul.
But not when it came to the food. One of the few good things about getting older is you gain a level of confidence and more of a “who cares what others think” mentality. While I don’t enjoy being gluten-free, I really don’t care what other people think about it.
So if you’re on a date, don’t be embarrassed about eating gluten-free. Embrace it. Tell her/him ahead of time that you have to eat gluten-free and what that means. You choose the restaurant. Explain why if questions arise. Bring her into the conversation and be open about it. And no, this does not mean talking about your disease the entire evening. There are so many more interesting things to discuss.
I saved the toughest for last. My keg party days are a distant memory. Partly because they were so long ago and partly because I killed a lot of brain cells at those parties. I simply cannot imagine now waiting on line for 10 minutes to get a cup full of semi-cold cheap beer. But dang…I certainly did enjoy it back in the day.
Anyway, if you can’t have beer and you’re heading to a kegger, you’ve got some options:
- Bring a six-pack of your favorite gluten-free beer in a cooler with you. I know, kind of a pain and you’ve got to keep tabs on it, but at least you’ll be able to join in the beer-fest still.
- Get yourself a nice flask and make yourself a cocktail for the evening. No waiting on line and you’ll have the best drink in the house.
- Don’t drink. There’s no law that says you have to drink at a keg party. Sometimes watching everyone else make fools of themselves is more fun than being one of the fools.
What’s the lesson here? Never, ever let your food restrictions get in the way of a good time, whether you’re a dude or a dudette. Yeah, you’ve got to modify. Yeah, it takes more planning. And yeah, it can be a pain in the butt at times.
But what’s more important? What you’re doing…or what you’re eating?
Enjoy life to the fullest.