Guest Blogger Brian Klemm of This Gluten Free Life
First off, I want to thank Taylor for giving me the opportunity to guest post on his site. I think what he is doing with GlutenAway is fantastic for the community and will hopefully influence more gluten free teenagers to blog about their journeys as well. My name is Brian Klemm and I run a gluten free website, This Gluten Free Life. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to update it as much as I would like lately, but I hope to post more in the near future.
I first became gluten free at the end of 2010. I had been dealing with a number of health issues all year, from headaches to side pains and digestive issues. After seeing a number of doctors and becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of answers, I was no closer to solving my problem. At the time, my girlfriend was dealing with some health issues of her own and her doctor told her to go on a gluten free diet. At the time, I wasn't even sure what gluten was, other than it was that "stuff" found in bread, pasta, and pizza.
I wanted to be a supportive boyfriend, but I was willing to try a new diet if there was a chance it could help me as well, so I went on the gluten free diet with her. To make a long story short, all my health issues went away and I felt the better than I had in years. I wasn't completely sold that gluten was my problem so I would eat it off and on for the next few months, and each time I did I would feel horrible and most of the issues would return.
I was 24 years old at the time I went gluten free, so I was more than a year removed from college. I often think back to my days of living in a residence hall, eating in the cafeteria with my meal plan - how would I have ever gotten gluten free options? The only thing I remember eating is breaded chicken and pizza. After doing a quick Google search (and reading this post on GlutenAway), I see that many colleges are making an effort to cater to students with food allergies and sensitivities.
In college, beer is predominantly the drink of choice. Keg parties, $1 beer nights, 30 racks - the stuff is everywhere. Post-college and being gluten free has really opened my eyes to the abundance of different alcohol options. I very rarely go out and drink heavily these days, so wine and cider are my new drinks of choice. As for gluten free beers, I like Omission (note: it IS brewed with barley, so some celiacs have reported issues with it even though it's less than 20 PPM) and Redbridge even though I think I'm in the minority there.
Gluten Free in Your 20's
Being gluten free in your mid-20's isn't exactly a cakewalk, but I have to think it is much easier than high school and college. I will go out to eat with friends, and they will sometimes roll their eyes or make a joke when I ask if a certain dish is gluten free or not, but it is always in good fun and never malicious. Honestly, if there is someone who is truly mean and talks down to you because you eat a diet that is necessary for your good health, you don't want that person in your life anyways. No one that cares about you will do that, so leave 'em behind and live your life with people who do.
Even though I wasn't gluten free when I went to high school and college, I can almost certainly say it is easier being gluten free after college. You have much more freedom and way less drama in your life. Most people get their own place and can cook all the gluten free food they want without worry. After graduation, you will have a much better idea of what makes you happy and what doesn't, so you will slowly get rid of the things in life holding you down. Living gluten free isn't a choice for most people -- it's the key to our health and well-being.
Being Gluten Free = Not That Bad?!
I get asked all the time about what it's like to be gluten free. When I tell people I actually enjoy it, they look shocked. Is being gluten free less convenient most of the time? Yes. But, I am healthier now because of it, so you'll never hear me complaining. I actually wrote a guest post on why I view being gluten free as a blessing here. I love cooking and creating new delicious gluten free meals. Additionally, I avoid junk like fast food and convenience store foods because they almost all contain gluten.
If I had to give one piece of advice for people in their 20's, gluten free or not, it would be to learn to cook. It's not as hard as you think; heck, I'm still a beginner and I think I make some pretty good meals! Learning cooking basics will open up your creative side and you'll find yourself eating more natural, whole foods instead of processed junk.