Let Them Eat Toast: Musings on my recent wheat-free life

toaster

A brave, but sad, little toaster. He can no longer have toast.

“Let them eat toast,” I imagine my mother saying to her twin toddlers who often requested the warm, crispy bread with a generous coating of butter (and possibly a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar). I like to think my childhood toast consumption was a combination of my fascination with The Brave Little Toaster and a genuine love of bread. I never stopped eating toast, and any and all forms of wheat-based carbohydrates.

That is until a few months ago, when my allergist discovered that I have a slight wheat allergy. I was floored. How was I going to consume copious amounts of bread and cupcakes and spaghetti carbonara? It was quite a sad realization that my diet would be drastically changing. I was skeptical, though. How could taking wheat out of my diet help me? After all, I had been eating bread since I was a toddler.

Since going wheat-free, I have seen positive changes. I have lost about 10 pounds, felt more energized than I have in years, and experienced mostly clear skin for the first time since I was 15. So, it’s been worth it. I have also suffered from IBS for many years, and my symptoms have almost fully subsided.

I’m not going to lie–it’s hard to not eat wheat products. Wheat is part of our culture and history. Wheat products make up the ingredients to birthday cakes and cookies and all of those special treats that define holidays and special occasions. I know for myself, that many desserts and foods that have wheat in them–my grandmother’s yeast rolls and pecan tarts, and the homemade birthday cakes she made for me–are nostalgic, and knowing that I’m not going to consume those anymore is a strange grief. In the end though, it’s just food, and comes down to doing what is best for your body and being thoughtful about your own health.

My allergy is not anaphylactic, and I’m not allergic to gluten, so I have more options and I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. It’s actually been fun to explore new wheat-free options. I’ve found several baked goods, like Udis bread products (yay toast!) and Trader Joe’s gluten-free blueberry muffins, that are delicious. Udis also makes a pretty tasty gluten-free pizza.

Also, when it comes to restaurants, there are almost always gluten-free and wheat-free options. Go for the grilled meats and vegetable sides, but avoid many sauces, because sauces tend to have thickeners like flour. If you are unsure, ask your waiter. If you are wheat-free or a non-celiac gluten-free, don’t limit yourself to the gluten-free menu. It tends to exclude anything that could possibly have touched a wheat or gluten-containing product. Many items that are not gluten-free are actually wheat-free, like farro, barley, oats, and spelt (which is debated), so be open to the regular menu if you are wheat-free.

Being wheat free is a challenge, but it is completely possible and beneficial. If you find out you need to avoid wheat, don’t fret–just be ready to think outside of the box to do what is best for your body, and eat all of the [wheat-free] toast that you want to.

 

 

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It’s Almost Over:(

It’s hard to blog during an intensive course. All I want to do in my spare time sleep and explore the city.

But here’s everything else that’s been happening:

Week Two:

The second week of the course we spent more time hearing from professionals in the book industry.

Week Three:

The third week of the course, we began the infamous book workshop week. I don’t really have the words to describe the whirlwind that was book week. I’ll just say that it was full of long days and nearly sleepless nights. We were all split into different book publishing houses. I was put in an academic publishing house. Our group was made up of only women, so we decided to become an academic press supporting the promotion of women writers. We called ourselves Minerva Press, and our week went smoothly without many issues but lack of sleep. I was the publicity manager, so my job was creating press releases, pitch letters, and publicity plans for each of the six books that we came up with.

Luckily, we had a long Fourth of July weekend. On Saturday, my friend from home, Stephanie, came to visit. She rode the bus up from her grandparents’ home in Oneonta. We only had one day together, so we tried to pack everything in. We ended up going to Grand Central Station, Chelsea Market, Washington Square Park, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Building, The Strand, The Met, Central Park, St, Patrick’s Cathedral, and Rockefeller Center. It was a long day full of walking, but it was great to be with a friend from home.

 

 

Week Four:

In the fourth week, we began the magazine and digital portion of the course. We heard from magazine professionals from Hearst Media, New York Times Magazine, Bon Appétit, and more. Sophie Donelson of House Beautiful spoke to us about her journey from CPC back in 2002 to where she is now as the editor-in-chief of House Beautiful. Her talk was inspiring, and it was hopeful to hear from someone who was so successful after being in the same seats as us.

Week Five:

Last week, we completed magazine workshop week, which is basically the same as book week, but for magazines instead. My group was a shelter magazine, and we created Liv, the home magazine for millennial women. My job was audience development director, and I had to look at a lot of numbers and determine our site traffic five years out. I also created our audience development plan and e-newsletter. The week felt like one long day with a few naps.

Week Six:

Now we’re  in the final week of the course. Yesterday we heard from the inspiring Sadie Stein, who used to be an editor at The Paris Review, and graduated from CPC twelve years ago. We also went to Time, Inc., where we were welcomed and encouraged to apply for positions in magazine and digital media. The Time office was spectacular and located right on the water’s edge in Battery Park City. It was so easy to imagine working at a place like that.

Today, some of us have field trips to Scholastic, and some to Book Culture. It’s strange that we are already on our final week. We’ve all been here together for six weeks, so it will be sad to disband across the city next weekend, but I know we’ll all keep in touch.

Here’s hoping we all become employed!