Living Gluten-Free in a Pizza-Loving World

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by Sam Levitz, Assistant Managing Editor

“I was always the kid at the birthday party with a Ziploc baggie of alternative food.”

Banquet Bowl from Whole Bowls by Allison Day
Photo by Sam Levitz

It was July 2009 and I was sitting on a beach in San Diego. The sky was a perfect blue as the waves crashed against the rocks rhythmically. There was a salt taste on my lips, but it wasn’t from the ocean. It was from the tears streaming down my face.

I was 17 years old and traveling the country on a Coach USA bus for the summer with 47 other teenagers. California was the halfway mark of our trip, and I watched as my new friends were singing and giggling on the beach eating the pizza that our staff had just brought for everyone. I stared at them with envy, stewing in my own public meltdown.

I don’t have Celiac’s Disease, but since birth, I’ve always been allergic to flour. Growing up, there were no such things as “gluten free options.” The closest you could get was the Atkins diet on the Wendy’s menu, and that’s only if you didn’t mind the judgmental stares of the cashiers who’d declare that at 12 years old you were way too young to be on a diet. I made my AIM screenname “WheatFree92” as homage to my dietary restrictions, and I was always the kid at the birthday party with a Ziploc baggie of alternative food.

 

Sweet Potato Hash from Sweet Potato Love by Jackie Garvin
Photo by Sam Levitz

When I signed up for this 6 ½ week cross country trip, my mom and I were assured that they had had many kids with gluten allergies before and would take really good care of me. Yet here I was, sitting alone on a beautiful beach at sunset, stomach grumbling, and almost 10 pounds lighter than when I had begun my journey 3 weeks ago. Jenny Craig’s got nothing on me.

It really amazes me how far we’ve come in the past 7 years. Restaurants that actually serve gluten free alternatives? Unheard of! Cookbooks with gluten free recipes that include easily accessible ingredients? Inconceivable! I know that this whole gluten free diet is just another fad, but that 17-year-old girl crying on the beach would be really happy to know that soon she’d be incredibly trendy.

Sam Levitz, Assistant Managing Editor
Skyhorse Publishing

Amazing Cookbooks featuring Gluten-Free recipes!

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