I was 14 years old when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. In and out of hospitals. Pain. More pain. Diet: rice, fish, water. Cooked veggies if I was feeling really in top form. Baby food. (Seriously.) A lifetime later and I’m generally okay, though as anyone with a colon disease knows: it is never that far away. UC is always in my thoughts, in my actions. It’s my friend, my dear, dear friend who has seen me through a lot and taught me deep lessons about myself and life. The thing about this friend is that I never know when another lesson is coming. And, to some extent, I feel like if I can show UC that I’ve got things under control, that I don’t need to be taught anything from her, then she’ll continue to lay low, showing up in manageable forms.
Diet for me is (supposed to be) no wheat, light on dairy, no spicy, no corn, tomatoes, fibrous things, no apple peels, and others that I’ve forgotten. The no wheat plays the biggest role in whether I get sick.
Challenge: India. The land of wheatie goodness. Well, it is the land of many things actually – camels, saries, channa, sugar (take that, Thailand! No, who am I kidding: Thailand is the king of sugar), cows, rickshaws, rolling hills, the sea, religious fervor, drama, culture, widow burnings, caste systems, masala chai, and, yes, wheat products. I’m talking about chapatis, parotta, naan, cheesy naan, cheesy garlic naan. On their own or slurped up with curries, masalas and sauces. These bring me to my knees.
I normally have almost no issue with relegating wheat to the no-fly-zone of my dietary world. My first trip to India was a wheat-free success. But this trip. This trip. This trip is trouble. Chapatis call my name. Really, they do. Naan cries out eeeeeeeeat meeeeeeeee!!! Who am I to resist the feeble begging of gluten gluttony?
Oddly, it started with a crepe. Yes, a French crepe. With bananas. Did I mention the honey? Crave. Spotted on the menu Monday, it was mine all mine on Tuesday. Of course, crepes are not food for the gluten-intolerant. After that I was sunk. Wheat items came to me in dreams, hallucinations, deleriums. I tried to funk up my rice routine by mixing geera, coconut, vegetable into the playlist. All good, very good. But coconut rice doesn’t hold an incense to cheesy garlic naan; any respectable Indian would agree.
For two weeks, I’ve eaten my fill of breaded goodness down south here with the palms and the naans. My colon is corrupting and I know I either go back to my wheat-free-wheeling ways or there’ll be trouble. I feel like a teenager getting caught sneaking in past curfew. To live in a wheat world is to live in a wild world where naan and chapati reign over kingdoms of parotta fields where the citizens frolick freely.
Goodbye, cruel wheat. May we meet again in another life.
After writing this, I have proceeded to eat parottas. I am powerless to the parotta.