The gluten free Buddha

As a teenager and young adult I must have bothered too many many of my friends with my zealous preaching about what I thought was a good life. Glad to say I managed to stop trying to tell other people what they should do and what not.

Today’s an exception of sorts, because I see an interesting relationship between two things: gluten free living and Buddhism.

Having had a chronically bad digestion and lots of clearly visible allergies (seafood, pollen) I started living a bit more healthy with the hopes of enjoying my life a bit more. Can’t tell you enough how much summer festivals, camping trips, holidays etc suck when you are (in constant fear of) diarrhea and are sedated by antihistamines and still sneezing and snorting your brains out.

So, bit by bit I tried things that could help: running, strength training, quitting nicotine and booze, and avoiding food additives. That meant making more things from scratch, including deserts, soups, energy bars, soda etc. It takes more work but it’s a lot of fun.

While a lot of problems (mainly the allergies) were alleviating, I still was underweight and not gaining any fat at all. That combined with stomach pain right after eating bread made me think. Maybe I was allergic to gluten too?  It’s complicated to find out for sure, because

  1. there’s gluten in a LOT of things. To be really sure I had to eliminate even more pre-made food .
  2. allergies to gluten are very vague, with some people not having any noticeable symptoms till very late in life.
  3. it takes three months after the last meal with gluten before you can notice any changes.

Ohlalala, quite a challenge.

The hardest part was right at the beginning, because I had just started to enjoy making bread and cakes. Darn. And the whole process of doing gluten free baking seemed so awkward and counter-intuitive. Sure I’ll get a g-f muffing from time to time, but it’s expensive and.. living in Belgium again now, it’s startling to see just how little gluten free food there is to be found here!

That made me think a bit (always a pain to do so). A while ago I started reading more about Buddhism, thanks to some excellent recent translations and travel stories by American translator Red Pine (aka Bill Porter). While I can’t consider myself to be any more than an enthusiast novice (and since I hate groups I’ll probably never formally join any sangha) I do like linking what I read to daily life.

It’s probably not too much of crime to synthesize a lot of Buddhist teachings as “we cling to so many things/ideas and because of our attachment to them we just make ourselves suffer”. Hey… that seems to match nicely with being attached to one style of cooking and how that makes my tummy suffer 🙂

The minute I realized that, it became clear that for a bit of a comfortable/affordable gluten free life, I only needed to get rid of the whole concept of baking/bread. So I don’t desperately search for an alternative “vessel” for jam/chocolate spread/cheese etc any more. I’ll just eat another style of lunch. For example… Japanese style bento. For breakfast I’ll skip the croissants and just make omelets or a warm porridge (oats/quinoa/buckwheat). I love Chinese cooking a lot, so why not just make those things and don’t look back to Belgian style cooking? I sure don’t miss it 🙂

So, that’s the end of this sermon haha. Message of the day: think freely and don’t be afraid to toss things away. I’ll always remember the advice of a key volunteer in my first job, when I had to take on the challenge of  reorganizing/slimming down the warehouse. His words: you can’t do warehouse management if you can’t throw away. So it is in life.

As a PS .. I notice a bit more people are starting to read this blog. Just a little note that it’s a very freestyle blog. I write mainly to keep friends updated (instead of using facebook). And while I try to make the writing accessible, it is by no means a guarantee that strangers will think it is interesting hehe. It’s certainly not the glossy shine shine bling bling “look at how professional of a photographer / webdesigner I am”kind of thing 🙂


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