Tag Archives: celiac

An ode to mess

I’ll miss the spills and miss the clutter,
Letting crumbs fall in my butter,
Using the same spoon to serve
The entrée, salad, and hors d’oeuvre.
Although I’ve barely just begun,
This “keeping neat” does not seem fun.
To wash one’s hands is always nice,
But must I truly do it twice?
And must I really not reuse
That pot with ziti residues?
And can’t I skip the cutting board
Just one more time ‘fore dying, Lord?
I’d rather not trim every green bean
On a surface spotlessly clean.
But when you have celiac
A dirty counter might attack.
Good hygiene may be worth a try
So my intestines will not die—
But can my cooking truly sate
Without a mess I’ve helped create?
There’s one solution I can see:
A messy workspace, just. For. Me.

Photo © Kate Scarlata










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What did my villi say to the gluten?

“Sorry to be blunt, but you suck.”

Your daily punchline. It can also do double duty as a response to annoying questions like, “When did we all get so picky?”

And yeah, there’s plenty more where that’s coming from, people.

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Sprue Stories: The Fairy-Tale Edition

This comic in the New Yorker got me thinking about how celiac/gluten intolerance and food allergies do sometimes take the “magic” out of things. Romance and mystique are good and all, but some of us need a little more certainty in our happily ever afters. (File that one under “sad but sprue.”) I was inspired to adapt a few fairy tales into more relatable bedtime stories for me and my celiac-having friends.

Sleeping Beauty

After a run-in with an offended fairy and an enchanted spindle, Sleeping Beauty slept for a hundred years in a thorn-covered castle. When a handsome prince broke through the brambles to find her, he fell in love instantly and awoke her with a kiss. Unfortunately, the princess had celiac disease, and the prince had just quaffed an entire flagon of ale to psych himself up. When she came to, she was so ill from their kiss that she never forgave him. “Eternal sleep,” she moaned, clutching her abdomen, “would at least have been painless.”

Jack & the Beanstalk

Having ditched gluten years before on doctor’s orders, and given up lactose when his cow stopped producing milk, Jack was finally free of the brain fog that had plagued him all his life. Plus, he knew the cost of a sack of rice flour. When a strange old man tried to bargain for his cow, Jack was far too clearheaded to believe in his “magic beans.” He sidestepped the man, sold Bessie at market price, and lived with his mother penniless but sensible the rest of his days.

Goldilocks & the Three Bears

A hungry little girl once came across an unlocked cottage where three bowls of porridge sat on the table: one hot, one cold, one warm. The warm bowl looked just right, but she couldn’t be sure that the cook had used gluten-free oats, and she didn’t want to risk getting glutened alone in the woods. And besides, she remembered how annoyed she always felt when people ate her expensive gluten-free snacks without asking first. So she went on her way, and the three bears to whom the cottage belonged smiled and waved as they crossed her path in the woods.

The Frog-Prince

The princess was not about to kiss that slimy frog, no matter what he promised. It’s not that she didn’t believe he was a prince; she just knew he was lying about not eating the breadcrumbs children threw into the pond for him. “You may be a prince,” she said, “but if you’re not going to take my health seriously, you’re not charming enough for me.”


When the miller told the king his daughter could spin straw into gold, he never expected he’d have to prove it. Sadly for them both, the king locked the girl in a dungeon and commanded her to spin for her life. After a time, a small man appeared and asked the girl why she was crying. When she told him her tale, he shook his head and said, “Alas, love, I would help, but I got out of that line of work years ago. The straw is always cross-contaminated and it’s just not worth it.” He bade the miller’s daughter good night, and that’s pretty much the end of that story.

The Gingerbread Man

You tell me this one!

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Dear gluten,

I never loved you anyway. I mean it. Oh, you had your sweet moments. I’ll always remember the cookies, the birthday cakes, the Boston cream pie, the brownies, the yogurt-covered pretzels, the chocolate chip muffins, the stuffed croissants, the cookies & cream ice cream, the . . .

What? No, just something in my eye. Back on topic.

The truth is, I was always unhappy. Everyone saw this coming. Ask my parents how many sandwiches I accepted in my school lunch days. Ask my friends how I feel about pasta dishes being everyone’s default vegetarian option. Ask just about anybody how I feel about ordering pizza. Even before you started to hurt me again and again, I didn’t need you.

I’ve always had other options. Beans and rice—gluten-free! Baked potatoes—gluten-free! Hummus and falafel—gluten-free! (Except when they aren’t.) Pad Thai—gluten-free! (As long as the soy sauce has no wheat.) Brownies—! (Well. There’s always almond flour.)

So I wish you’d stop hanging around, hiding in the French-frying oil and clinging to my colander. It’d be much easier to quit you if you’d leave me alone instead of showing up at my friends’ dinner parties and getting in the way every time I want to kiss someone. And stop trying to sneak in and join me on my lunch break at work. We’re. Not. Getting. Back. Together. The sooner you realize that and move on to someone whose intestines will love you, the better. For both of us.

It’s not me, it’s not you, it’s this darn HLA-DQ2.

But let’s not place blame. The truth of the matter is, I’ve wasted some of the best years of my life on you, gluten, and now it’s over. I’m better off without you. In six months I will be, anyway. Or two years. Or eventually. But I’m not worrying about that right now. Right now, I’m letting the healing begin.

So please, make this easy on me. Go away, and take all of these autoimmune antibodies you’ve left lying around my bloodstream the past few years. I never liked them, either. When you’re gone, I’m redecorating. It’s going to be villi, villi everywhere, just the way I like it. You’ll see.

Actually, though, you won’t. Because you’re not getting back in. We’re through. And what I said earlier, about those other intestines? I take it back. I wouldn’t wish you on anybody.

But I do wish you a happy Valentine’s Day, gluten. And good luck finding someone to love you by then; I hear you don’t have the best reputation these days.

Yours no longer,

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