Buckwheat Coconut Pancakes, adapted from Chris Kresser and Stephan Guyanet
A couple of nights ago, my oldest opened the door to our neighbor T.
She’s a nice lady, and has been incredibly welcoming to us since we showed up in the neighborhood, with our motley crew of rowdy kids, just-shy-of-feral dogs and complete ineptitude at lawn care.
(In our defense, Husband and I are apartment kids: this business of having a giant patch of grass plus a fat swath of parking strip to maintain … well, that’s a post for another time. But I digress.)
As I was saying, my oldest boy opened the door to our neighbor. Our neighbor who stopped by…with a giant bag of bagels.
Yes, a giant bag of bagels. And I don’t mean a grocery bag, either. I mean a kitchen trashcan sized bag. Of bagels. At my gluten- and grain-free door.
I could have taken a stand. I could’ve ranted and bewailed the evils of gluten and how it is making this country fat and inflamed and killing us and for god’s sake I have an entire BLOG about not eating things made with wheat flour and and and.
Except that my oldest boy had his hand around the bag before I could blink and an ear-to-ear grin nearly as big as that sack of bagels.
(I took the bag.)
Except that my youngest girl, when told that we weren’t going to keep them, moaned “Why?” and “I miss bread” from the depths of her soul. Not in the whiny-six-going-on-teenager annoying way that has been her habit lately, but in the quiet, honest way that she talks to me when she really has something serious to say. Hearing that sadness in her voice just about shattered my heart.
(Yes, I took the bag.)
Except that my baby boy, who eats with deep joy and wild abandon, happily devoured a chunk of cheesy bagel with his breakfast.
Sigh. I took the bag, and we kept a few, and gave most of it away, and you know what? The world has not ended. We are fortunate that the kids seem to tolerate gluten well enough that being gluten-free is more of a choice than a mandate in our house. So I took it.
I was brought up to be polite, especially to my elders. So I took the darned bag, I said thank you very much (we don’t really eat that sort of thing anymore, but thank you). Then I grumpy-mumble-mumbled about it under my breath the whole next day. In the end, it was less than a week with some bagels. We are fine.
But it started me wondering why.
Why was being polite so important to me? Why couldn’t I just say “No thanks, hope someone can use them, goodnight?” Why couldn’t I resist the social conditioning? Even if I had, what about the kids? If I let them have gluten outside of the house, is it really fair to restrict it inside the house? Am I confusing them? Sending them mixed messages? What about the WASTE? Someone has to eat the perfectly good** food, dang it!
Sigh. Sometimes being a grown up is really hard.
I listen to a podcast called The Paleo View (run by The Paleo Mom and one of the Paleo Parents), and last week’s episode on self-control and challenges really resonated with me. In that episode, the hosts discuss avoiding disordered eating and elimination diets and deciding what place certain types of food have in your life. It stuck with me because I remember very clearly that as much as I looked forward to the end of the elimination diet, when it did actually end, I was terrified to go off plan. I felt as if I were set adrift with no compass, and like I could just MESS IT ALL UP at any moment. That’s not a reflection on the elimination diet, which actually had a very sound plan for re-entry, but had a lot to do with my state of mind. I felt fragile, and uncertain, and very tentative. I liked the rules. I needed the rules. What would I do without the rules??? I would just be EATING. WILLY NILLY. OMG I CAN’T HANDLE ALL THIS FREEDOM.
(It took me a while to calm down.)
That reaction is why I really appreciated The Paleo View’s take on knowing yourself, being aware of/carefully considering the role certain foods play in your life, and why you might or might not choose to eliminate them.
For us, I am happy to make pancakes, breads and crackers. I’m not against those foods in and of themselves. However, a big part of the reason we started our paleo journey is because much of the time, the kids were eating those things instead of actual, nutrient-dense food. But if the occasional paleo-fied muffin makes it easier to get actual vitamins from fresh, whole foods into my kids’ bodies, I’m gonna happily paleo-fy the heck out of those muffins.
All of this to say that next time, I’m going to answer the door myself. I will say a polite but firm “no thank you.” Then I’m going to get back to my kitchen and make my own darned bread.
** Of course, by perfectly good, I mean unspoiled, not necessarily appropriate.