THE OTHER DAY I ate a doughnut. It was my first doughnut in about 14 years—I’d been dreaming about them, and I thought it was finally time to try gluten in its highest glory: in the form of sugary fried dough. And let me tell you—it was good. It was so good that I laughed so hard I actually started to cry. You would be right to think this was a total overreaction to this most mundane manna from heaven, but that’s just because you don’t know what it means to me.
I started having gut problems when I was about 11. It was a season of funerals—three of my grandparents died within two years of each other, and my parents were suffering in their own cycles of grief. I was a preteen, facing the anxiety of puberty and graduating to new schools. At my maternal grandmother’s funeral, I got food poisoning and was keeled over a toilet for about two weeks afterwards. As an anxious young teen, I decided to try the age-old coping mechanism of refusing to eat. My body became sticklike, and I liked that. The closer I got to disappearing and the longer I went without food, the safer I felt in my own skin.
I eventually recovered from my eating disorder, but I dealt with pain and anxiety almost daily. I tried every diet I could find to feel better, and the only one that seemed to make any real difference was cutting out gluten. My symptoms were manageable but would flare from time to time, especially so after a traumatic sexual experience in my 20s. I spoke to several doctors, a dietician, and even a gastroenterologist, and all they would tell me was to eat more fiber. No one was taking me seriously. No one was helping me.
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