Going With The Grain


“Scotty? I’m still not sick from the crackers.”

Next to “I do,” those were some of the most welcome words I had ever heard.

At long last, wheat was no longer the enemy.

For a while it had been up there like an Al Capone henchman. Not quite public enemy number one on the Heather Allergies o’ Death an’ Doom List – that’s fish, and probably always will be – but high enough to mandate a constant lookout in every hiding place.

Heather’s wheat allergy cropped up (sorry) while we were living in Kansas about 10 years ago. It didn’t take long to realize this was going to be a problem. Not only did that cut out 70 percent of the available Greart Plains dietary choices, it had a nasty habit of sneaking into most of the remaining 30 percent in disguise. The words “cross contamination” and “other ingredients include” became vital parts of our vocabulary.

The one consolation? A minor note Heather had run across somewhere saying that sometimes, after about a decade or so, some adult onset allergies calmed down or burned out. Nice to know, but not something you could count on.

Until about a week ago.

That’s when Heather noticed that some “contaminated” french fries didn’t get the usual response.

And followed it up by trying a few crackers. And a wheat tortilla.

And then, a day or two later, the ultimate test – breaded chicken tenders.

Nothing. Nada. Nyet.


It’s not a complete liberation – there’s still many other things on the Death an’ Doom List, including lactose, that merit careful attention. But it does remove a major roadblock and open up some choices.

It’s interesting, though. She’s glad to have wheat back. But after this long living without it, it’s not the burning need it would have once been.

Part of that’s the wider availability of gluten-free stuff these days, of course. But I think it goes a little farther than that. Just as time can build up a habit, time can break it down. You know you don’t need it. More importantly, you come to understand that even wanting it is an option.

For years, Heather and I couldn’t afford cable TV. Since we often lived in places with lousy over-the-air availability, that meant our TV got used almost entirely for recorded movies and video games. Books, computers and a dozen other things filled the gap.

A couple of months ago, we re-entered the cable world. And yes, we watch more than we did. (It was hardly possible to watch less.) But not heavily. Not compulsively. Just one more thing in a busy day.

All those years of a turned-off set had put things in perspective. And not just by fiddling with the remote.

More balance to a diet. More balance to a life. Not bad things, either of them.

You just have to sift the wheat from the chaff.

Or recognize when the two may be one and the same.

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