The Day the Silly Yak Dined with the Lion: How to eat on a gluten-free diet without looking like a total puss-puss.

Originally Posted February 6, 2012


Before I could even drive, my health took a left turn. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease when I was 15 years old. I was in and out of the hospital everyday my sophomore year of high school. After countless blood tests, meetings with the country’s top specialists, and multiple intestinal surgeries, it was confirmed. My life and my diet would change forever – no more wheat, barley, or rye for me. If anybody reading this is sensitive enough to make that “Awwww” sound like the crowd makes on Maury, don’t. This shit was gold.

I was suddenly the most talked about kid in my class. I had this new thing that could redefine who I was. It was exotic. It was unheard of. I had something that set me apart from all my peers. It was MY thing. And I could use it to get just about anything I wanted.

I could seduce girls with insincere existential thoughts – “Yea, you know, this disease has just really taught me that you need to live life to the fullest because you never know when your number’s gonna be called, babe. You and I, right here, right now, we should livetonight.”

I could use my new ailment to get out of school – “I’m sorry, I’d love to stay and eat the appetizing fish sticks in the cafeteria with my classmates, but it would be detrimental to my health. I think I should go home for lunch… and sometimes my disability makes me sleepy after I eat so I may need to take a nap during 3rd period.”

I could be that athlete that overcame all the odds and I would share my story on 60 Minutes – “Well Diane, it has been tough. But with the support of friends and family, I know that I’ll never give in. I can stand up to wheat. And because of my loved ones, I’ve been able to live my life, growing into the handsome, smart, freakishly athletic young man that I am today.”

This disease was brilliant – it gave me power. So I had to give up going out for pizza. Big deal. They could keep the acne and lovehandles – I was finally unique.

Then I moved to Portland. It was a land filled with gluten-free bakeries, breweries, pizzerias, and sandwich shops. It was gluten-free heaven. I should have been rejoicing. I could finally eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But I wasn’t.

You see, Portland isn’t a gluten-free friendly town because there happen to be a lot of Celiacs here. No, no. Out here, it’s hip to be gluten-free. It’s a hot fad. It’s what everyone on the fringe is doing. Shit.

No longer did I have that power that once made me unique. Now I was just like every other hippie shluck that boarded the no-wheat train. I was being lumped into categories with the likes of vegans. Gross. I constantly had to defend myself when ordering food. “No, I didn’t read about this diet in Cosmo. I promise, it’s a medical thing.”

So what could I do? I wasn’t going to pick up any girls looking like a total pussy asking for a gluten-free bun. And my office sure as hell wasn’t going to give me a few hours off in the afternoon for my much needed Celiac nap. Well then I got to thinking. For the betterment of all my people, I’ve made a list of five things we can do to make gluten-free diets as tough as nails.

1. Get a face tattoo. And not just any face tattoo. It’s gotta be something that strikes fear into the hearts of everyone in the entire restaurant. So much so that they discard any ambitions of having children because of the terrible world they’d be bringing their kids into. My face tattoo will be a Nazi samurai ninja slicing the head off of unicorn as he drinks the tears of a sobbing baby.

2. Tell people you picked this diet up in prison. Immediately, their attention will shift from your diet to thinking about what you did to get into prison. You’ll never have to prove that you actually spent time in lockdown; they’ll accept the face tattoo as proof.

3. Confuse people with metaphors. “Have you ever seen a lion eat wheat? No. True predators would never waste time with bread. Straight. Bloody. Zebra meat.”

4. Make sure to explain to people the badass things you can still do, even with a disease. “I can still sell hard drugs to children. I can still jump motorcycles over shark pits. And I can still beat the crap out of your grandmother. Now give me a gluten-free apple fritter, bitch. With whipped cream, please.”

5. Literally start eating nails. I know it sounds unpleasant, and it is. But they are gluten-free, I checked. While it may absolutely ruin your meal, and will most certainly do more damage to your intestines than gluten would, it’s a necessary evil. They can take our pizza, but they must never take our pride.

With that my Silly Yak friends, I must leave the herd. Following the masses just isn’t for me. I was born to be unique. I was born to be different. I was born to dine with the lions.