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Gluten-Free Astrology: Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Well, hello there, Gluten-Free Libras. So glad you could make it. No, but really. GF Libras are such easygoing, sociable people—an asset to every gathering. When you join the conversation, everyone (even sullen GF Cancers and hyperactive GF Geminis like me) feels a bit more at ease.

The GF Libra is decidedly not a loner; you seek out and thrive on companionship. For you, a solitary safe dinner at home is terribly depressing; you prefer to seek out new experiences, preferably with a partner or BFF as well as some new friends-to-be. A humble GF Gemini like myself might feel awkward about whipping out my mason jar of rice and black-bean salad and gluten-free roll at a restaurant (as I wound up doing last week), but you never would. And, given your level-headedness and communication skills, you’re almost always able to successfully convey your needs to the waiter and chef and manage to wrangle a safe meal for yourself anyway.

scales (symbol of Libra)

Though the gluten-free diet, despite popular misconception, doesn’t have much at all to do with weight, the GF Libra is all about the scales.
Photo © Joie De Cleve | Flickr

In fact, I would love to carry one of you around in my back pocket to pull out whenever I need to calmly explain something about celiac disease or gluten-free living to someone who’s just not getting it. You’d acknowledge both sides of the discussion, calmly bring us to an understanding, and smooth out any tensions or hurt feelings as you went. In short, you’d do a much better job than I ever do.

If spokespeople were selected by community vote, GF Libras—the ultimate people people—would be nominated, seconded, and appointed without a word of dissent from anyone. (Well, except for the Leos, who would feel the crown really belonged to them.) And, indeed, GF Libras are excellent advocates: they care intensely about fairness and are able to raise awareness for their community without forgetting the priorities of others. Put your advocacy skills to the test this month. Though National Celiac Awareness Day is behind us and our month is a ways away, there’s plenty of work for you to do in the meantime.

The GF Libra is ruled by Venus, and therefore loves loveliness. No misshapen gluten-free cookies make their way onto your buffet table—everything must be perfect. Oh, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you make them yourself; many Libras are so laid-back as to be underachievers. If your baking skills don’t hold up, rather than try, try again, you’d probably walk, walk to the door of that local GF bakery that makes the most beautiful cupcakes, with piped-on frosting blossoms. So they cost $6 each? Ah, well, what’s a little extravagance in the pursuit of happiness?

According to my astrology bible, Libras love to spruce up their homes with tasteful luxury. Now, I happen live with a GF Libra, and while she doesn’t precisely display this characteristic, she was the one who had the idea to buy glass canisters and fill them with certified gluten-free grains and beans as a display piece.

shelf with canisters of gluten-free grains and cookbooks displayed

Totally the work of a GF Libra.

And, although we’ve lived in our apartment for nearly three months now without putting up our art, she is rather more bothered than I am by it. For the slight discrepancy, we might blame her lazy Libran nature, or perhaps her nurture: our Taurean father’s practical housekeeping and Scorpio mother’s conservative fiscal habits probably tamped down her inherent frivolousness.

Perhaps, internally, she does waffle between frivolity and sensibility. If so, she wouldn’t be alone, for many GF Libras struggle with trying to be all things to all people and therefore feel as though they’re never quite themselves, never wholly real. Often, they sense that something vitally important is missing from their lives. It’s probably gluten.

The GF Libra is associated with the kidneys, and several studies have indicated a connection between celiac and renal disease. Although these studies have failed to disclose the astrological signs of the surveyed subjects, I think we can safely surmise that many of them were born between September 23rd and October 22nd.

You know who was definitely born in that range? These GF Libra celebrities. Oh, and there are plenty. Check them out:

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow, born September 27th, 1972, typifies her sign’s natural loveliness: she was named People‘s “Most Beautiful Woman” in April, and she’s in the public eye for several different philanthropic and awareness-raising campaigns. However, she’s unnaturally polarizing to the GF community. Though she’s certainly out there talking about her gluten-free diet, nobody’s sure she’s talking about it quite right. But her nonchalant book title, personal motto, and retort to our accusations that she distorts the diet’s purpose couldn’t be much more Libran: “It’s all good.” Sure, Gwyneth. Sure it is.
Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian, born October 21, 1980, is another GF Libra who goes 100 percent against my earlier statement about Libras being the most welcome gluten-free advocates (but don’t worry, everything else I said is true). As of this tweet in 2012, she was all about the gluten-free diet, and went on record about the great weight loss she achieved from it. The community, judging from such comments as those at Gluten Dude’s site, was not thrilled. Our wonderful journalists over at the Examiner later kept us up to date when she cheated with some ramen. Goodness. It really is tough to keep up with her.

Are you a GF Libra who really does present gluten-free life in a balanced, truthful way, or do you know of another one? Let me know in the comments if so!

As always, the “information,” such as it is, in this post has been largely ripped off from The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, by Joanna Martine Woolfolk, which is in fact the only astrology book you’ll ever need (need here being a relative term).

See also: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo

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What do you say to celiac disease ignorance?

Do you speak up when someone says something incorrect about gluten sensitivity or celiac disease? (This, by the way, could almost be a question on my celiac disease personality quiz. If you haven’t yet, try it and let me know your result for a chance to win free tickets to or a swag bag from the New York/New Jersey GFAF Expo.)

I generally do. I don’t like the idea of untruths being spread, and I feel party to it if I hold my tongue, especially when I have a personal connection to the subject.

Sometimes, I’m the one who turns out to be wrong. Case in point: last night, I learned that my parents mash their potatoes with an electric mixer, not by hand, as I had been vehemently insisting to my sister. But even then, I don’t usually regret speaking my mind. A little friendly debate is fun.

mashing potatoes with electric mixer

I still think it’s better to hand-mash. Sorry, Mom and Dad.
Photo © Robyn Anderson | Flickr

However, when the other person also feels personally connected to the subject, and isn’t my sister, and we aren’t discussing culinary technique, things can get sticky. A Google search isn’t always sufficient evidence to win such debates, which may escalate into real confrontations.

So, under such circumstances, I sometimes just back off. For example:

Scenario #1: The Fellow Patient

A few months ago, in the waiting room at my doctor’s office, I got to talking with an older gentleman who had been diagnosed for some time.

When I asked how he felt, he shook his head. “Still sick,” he said. “I think I have a parasite.”

I was sympathetic. “I’m not feeling better yet, either.”

“And you’re sticking to the diet 100 percent?” he asked.

“Of course,” I replied.

“You don’t eat out?”

“No,” I replied.

100 percent?” he repeated.

“Yes,” I assured him. “100 percent.”

“Wow,” he said. “I don’t. It’s too hard.”

Seriously?

I wanted to say, “Huh. Maybe you don’t feel sick because you have a parasite. Maybe you just aren’t doing the one thing that is known to cure the disease you have.”

But I hardly knew the guy, and he was many years my elder. Plus, he was about to go in to see the doctor and, hopefully, be told the same thing by her (with better bedside manner).

I might have looked surprised, but otherwise, I kept my thoughts to myself. When I stood, I told him to get well soon.

*

Scenario #2: The Family Member of a Patient

At a barbecue to which I had dutifully brought my own gluten-free three-bean salad, I started talking to some of the other attendees about celiac disease.

One of them said, “My aunt had that…”

I nodded.

“…but she grew out of it,” my interlocutor concluded.

My nod turned sideways. “That’s not actually possible,” I said, slowly.

“Yes, it is. She was gluten-free when she was a baby but now she doesn’t have it anymore.”

“I’m pretty sure you can’t grow out of it…” (By now, I’d already lost: in order to maintain appropriate backyard conversational levity, I was qualifying my response, playing nice, pretending I didn’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can’t “grow out of it.”)

“Yes, you can.” She was as vehement as though we were discussing her own GI tract. “She did.”

I argued a bit more, then shrugged. “Okay,” I acquiesced. “Maybe you’re right.”

I let the conversation turn to other things. I ate my salad.

I moved on.

But did I really? Clearly I’m still thinking about it—about both of the conversations, wondering if I should have spoken up. Maybe I could have dammed one small stream of misinformation, if only I had thought of the right thing to say.

Instead, I reverted to a certain mode of sociability, one I’m not even particularly fond of, whose principles are:

  1. one doesn’t act like a know-it-all
  2. one doesn’t harangue one’s conversation partners
  3. one doesn’t call another’s bluff.

Was this cowardice on my part? Laziness? Did standing aside make me an accessory to the “crime” of spreading ignorance?

Or was it appropriate to just let it go? Am I, after all, responsible for educating people? Even people who aren’t prepared to accept my advice? Don’t I reflect better on myself and the general celiac population by not beating people over the head with my supposed superior knowledge? Don’t I seem less uptight, less nitpicky, less of all those undesirable qualities with which we are too often associated?

I don’t know. I’ve thought about it and thought about it, and, for once, I just don’t know.

What would you have said in these situations? Have you had similar experiences? How did you respond? 

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Riddikulus! Gluten, boggarts, and powerful magic

Are you sick of the Harry Potter references yet? No? Good, because there’s more where that’s coming from.

Recently, as I was cataloging the changes to my malleable psyche effected by my celiac diagnosis (nearly six months—that magical number—ago!), it occurred to me that were I to encounter a boggart in a dark alleyway, wardrobe, or Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, it would probably now take on the form of a gigantic piece of wheat bread shedding crumbs as it staggered toward me on crusty legs. (Before, it definitely would’ve been bedbugs.)

WalkingBread_original

This is a sticker I received in a Breaking Up With Captain Crunch giveaway. Too good not to share.

If you, like me, devoted years of your child- or adulthood to reading and internalizing the Harry Potter series, you already know that the only charm to defeat a boggart—a shape-shifter that instinctively takes the form of its opponent’s greatest fear—is Riddikulus. The charm, as dear Professor Lupus put it, “is simple, yet it requires force of mind.” You must close your eyes, concentrate hard, and dream up a way to make fun of your greatest fear. Once the boggart has taken on its new and hilarious form, there’s just one thing you must do to vanquish it: laugh.

hp3_16

That walking bread? Give it a big toaster-burnt spot in the shape of a mustache. Or envision a gigantic toddler picking it up and gumming it to smithereens—with a bib to catch the crumbs, of course. Or speckle it with freezer burn, open up a big air hole in the middle, and imagine it as gluten-free bread from the nineties—which, from what I hear, was either very funny or very scary. Cross-contamination, schmoss-contamination, and boggart begone!

Photo © kaylacasey | Flickr

Photo © kaylacasey | Flickr

At the NYC Celebrate Celiac event this past Saturday (more details to come), I talked to a bunch of great people, and speaking about my blog helped me to put into words a mission statement I hadn’t concretely realized before: Gluten-free is for life, so you’d better start finding ways to laugh about it.

Whether you’re newly diagnosed and afraid you’ll never fit in or eat well again, or a seasoned g-freer who dreads the idea of a waiter chirping, “Whoo-oops, I thought you said vegan!,” chances are if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity you’ve got a gluten-related boggart or two. It is my hope that my posts do less to feed your demons and more to dispel them, using the most magical weapon at our disposal: laughter.

I’m not saying being gluten-free is fun—I’m just saying it’s funny. It’s comical that I get twitchy about passing a dish of wheat noodles at the dinner table or standing too close to someone eating a bagel on the subway. It’s silly that I have to keep a sponge in my desk drawer and carry it to the sink to wash dishes at work. It’s hilarious whenever someone asks me, “What happens to you when you eat gluten?”

For me, every time the concept of Gluten-Free For Life starts to seem serious or scary, I can find a million reasons—starting with the word gluten itself—to laugh about it instead. I hope you feel the same way about celiac, or NCGS, or whatever else ails you. After all, as Dumbledore would certainly agree, to the well-organized mind, it all is but the next great adventure.

By the way, in case you were wondering: Yes, this blog is written pseudonymously by J. K. Rowling.

Tell me what your boggart would turn into, and how you’d defeat it. What’s the funniest thing to strike your gluten-free fancy recently?

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Gluten-Free Astrology: Cancer (born June 21 – July 22)

Omigosh, my dear GF Cancers, you who are the worst possible sign to flake out on, I find that I am one day late in devoting this post to you. I had my dates confused and thought I was on time, but alas—my distracted Gemini core must have trumped my Taurus-cusp dependability. Or it was brain fog.

Whatever the excuse, I’m here now, so stop pouting and listen up. Here’s what this month has got in store for the lovable crab.

Photo © cliff1066™ | Flickr

Photo © cliff1066™ | Flickr

As a GF Cancer, you are emotional, nurturing, and fiercely loyal: traits that sometimes manifest as overbearing and possessive. You forge bonds for life, so you probably shed tears over your gluten-free prescription, scared it might strain your social relationships or bar you from enjoying your treasured restaurants and traditions. Once committed to a thing, though, you never let go, and so it is with gluten-free. You likely pledged allegiance early on to one flour blend or brand, and you seek every opportunity to break gluten-free bread with your lived ones.

Although you prefer to invite friends into the bosom of your safe, comforting cooking at home, you’d balk at being left out of any of their gatherings simply because of your diet. So, more than many, you may be inclined to eat out and chance the cross-contamination. Still, because of your deep-seated anxiety and pessimistic outlook, you approach every meal with the niggling sensation you’ll end it running for the toilet. At times, this makes you a sullen, brooding companion, picking at your food suspiciously. At other times, you seek constant reassurance that the dish you were served is gluten-free. When mistakes do happen, your early anticipation of the worst doesn’t save you from going into a full-on sulk. Still, your closest friends know better than to leave you out of an invitation: your sensitive side will come out in full force should your company be rejected. Clingy? Well, a little.

More vulnerable than most to feeling lonely or left out, your desire for connectedness may have led you to join a support group or other gluten-free network. If not, this month might be just the time. You may find a satisfying sense of community at, for example, one of several Celebrate Celiac events going on this summer. If one will be in your vicinity, check it out and enjoy the feeling (as only a Cancer can) of being surrounded by potential new friends who understand your troubles. I’ll be at the New York event in July!

Even more than any other gluten-freer, GF Cancers are likely to have gastrointestinal troubles, sometimes even in the absence of gluten. Take it easy on your gut this month, but don’t let your anxiety cripple your social life. If you do run into tummy trouble, you’re likely to have several friends waiting in the wings to nurse you back to health; your loyalty and generous care are usually rewarded with more of the same from anyone with a weak enough fear of commitment to enter the lifelong embrace of your acquaintance. This summer, I predict you’ll make new friends and keep the old—and perhaps bring them all together for a gluten-free cookout or two. Just steer clear of crabcakes. You’re a Cancer, not a cannibal.

GF Cancers are often well-to-do, because you have a way of discovering (sometimes indirectly) nice financial prospects. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate into fame. I had a bit of trouble finding gluten-free Cancers for you this time around, but please let me know if you come across any in your crabwalking across the internet.

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is a Cancer, and we might say she’s an honorary GF Cancer, given how many Google hits pop up when you search for “gluten-free Meryl Streep.” Maybe it’s just that you could search for anything plus Meryl Streep and turn up tons of hits. But there aren’t that many famous GF Cancers, so we’ll have to take what we can get. Meryl is known as a versatile actor (and it makes sense, since Cancers are often creative and artistic, not to mention smart), but she’s also quite steadfast and monogamous, as a Cancer should be. She’s been married—to one person—since 1978. Not too shabby for a celebrity.

As always, the “information,” such as it is, in this post has been largely ripped off from The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, by Joanna Martine Woolfolk, which is in fact the only astrology book you’ll ever need (need here being a relative term).

See also: AriesTaurusGemini

If I haven’t managed to get past your tough exterior and offend you with this post, let me know whether I got it right, GF Cancers. By the way, my GF Gemini prediction came true for me—three out of four of my first-degree relatives have now gone in for celiac testing, thanks to my quicksilver powers of persuasion.

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