Earlier this year we became concerned that our youngest child had behaviors consistent with autism and, after months of therapy, an autism diagnosis was made this fall. Once we got over the initial shock, we set about finding the best treatment for our little man. Aside from the wealth of medical advice we received from qualified and licensed medical professionals, up to speed on the latest peer-reviewed research in nationally published journals of repute, we also consulted The Internet. The Internet was very confident that a gluten-free diet would help. My wife approached me one morning and announced that she wanted to try this with Charlie.
I didn’t tell her this at the time, but I rolled my optic nerve into the back of my cranium. It’s my understanding that, other than people with celiac disease, there’s no medical reason to go gluten-free. There’s just People On The Internet Who Say It Works. But, the more important consideration for me is that wives must be handled gingerly and mine is no exception. There are two ways I could take this conversation:
#1 – I tell her No Fucking Way, and if Charlie grows up with even the slightest developmental delay, even if he’s spent years in therapy, my wife will go to her grave wracked with guilt and uncertainty over having not eliminated wheat, barley and rye from his diet. That goes double if, in fifteen years, somebody publishes actual medical research supporting this theory. So that’s out.
Option B) – I jump on board with both feet, agree to this plan and support and encourage her without question. I was reasonably certain that this experiment wouldn’t last a week because it sounded like a huge pain in the ass. You have to execute it flawlessly and our toddler is, at best, a picky eater. I know my wife, and she has to live with it, so getting on board quickly and enthusiastically was really the only option.
Mackenzie went shopping for gluten-free cooking ingredients, and they were easy to find. They had gluten-free versions of everything Charlie loved! This would be a piece of cake! Hey, look! They even have gluten-free waffles! Fantastic! But, wait. These were not real American waffles. They were a pale imitation of a waffle. They were an interpretation of waffles. They mocked waffles.
Charlie hated all of it. He dumped every gluten-free food molecule we offered on the floor. At one point during the gluten-free experiment, I caught Charlie fishing a couple of toasted raviolis out of the garbage. He saw me, I saw him, and he turned and made a run for it like a starving North Korean defector trying to cross the DMZ. I chased him down and pried the raviolis from his kung fu death grip moments before he could hunker down and steal a nibble.
The waffles were the most spectacular failure. You have to understand … Charlie loves waffles. This child could subsist on nothing but frozen waffles and chicken nuggets. When we gave him a gluten-free waffle, he first grimaced and then launched them across the kitchen, slapping his fists on his high-chair tray in protest. He’s not a big talker but the message was received. That shit ain’t a waffle.
The only way we could get him to choke these things down was to drown them in butter and maple syrup which, after a period of time, would mix with the “waffle” and coagulate into some kind of tacky paste that could double as constructive adhesive, and which Charlie promptly rubbed into his hair, clothes, and eye sockets. It was a gigantic fuck you guys for trying to trick him into eating this vile doppelganger of a breakfast pastry.
At some point, Mackenzie called an audible. “I’m ready to give up the gluten-free diet” she confessed. “I don’t know what else to feed this child.” I was equally flummoxed. “Those waffles can’t be that bad” she said. So we got the box out and took a look at the ingredients.
Please remember what a waffle is, definitionally. A waffle is a batter of wheat flour, sugar, eggs, oil, and milk, warmed between two cooking plates.
POP QUIZ MOTHERFUCKERS. If a waffle is essentially gluten and dairy, what the hell is in a gluten-free, dairy-free waffle?
Ingredients listed on the box:
Seriously. The first ingredient is water? The first ingredient in an Eggo is delicious, amazing, wonderful, enriched wheat flour.
2. Van’s Gluten Free Flax Mix
This sounds like an epic shit-mix formula. Just reading that makes me want to go poop for about four hours. I’m surprised they didn’t include coffee grounds and black beans.
3. Non-GMO Expellar Pressed Canola Oil
Admit it. You don’t know what that is. Canola oil is the oil from a Canandian RAPE plant. They call it “canola” because they know they have to put it on a grocery store shelf and convince women to buy it and no woman is taking home EXTRA VIRGIN RAPE OIL.
4. Van’s Natural Fruit Juice Blend
I’m sure this is the sweetener since there’s nothing else on this list that tastes like anything. There’s no gluten in sugar so why can’t we just have that?
5. Sea Salt
I’ll give them a pass on this one. My wife says it’s okay, and her food is fantastic, so I believe her.
6. Guar Gum
Guar gum is used in shale oil refining, explosives manufacturing, fire-resistant materials, mining enterprises, printing and, of course, waffles.
It’s like a product from a factory in a David Lynch movie, or dreamed up in a Soviet laboratory. It’s a communist waffle.
Now let’s compare that to what’s in, for example, an Eggo. An Eggo is made from: flour, water, oil, eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, sugar, salt, soy lecithin.
Fuck yes. That’s a waffle. That’s American, dammit. That’s a breath of warm, toasty, gluten-y air. And if you don’t think there’s a genuine difference between that and the gluten-free waffle made from sawdust and eagle’s tears, you need only witness Charlie’s reaction when we threw in the towel on the gluten-free diet. That morning we made him a proper waffle and he tore into that thing like a starving hostage and pounded the table for more.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a gluten-free diet. For us, the attempt was the point. I knew my wife would not feel right until she put herself through the torment and came to the conclusion that this was not for us, and so I backed the effort cheerfully and tried my damnedest to avoid giving Charlie any gluten. The fact that she and I can sit together in the kitchen and laugh at ourselves after this misguided mission is one of those things that makes it easier to jump into the next one. Together, we are fearless.
(This post originally ran on Mommy Needs a Swear Jar.)
Mackenzie is a SAHM to five beautiful, hysterical, annoying-as-fuck-sometimes kids. She worked so super hard in her twenties to get an MBA only to retire and become her kids’ bitch. Now she spends her days dashing into the fray and taking power naps. You can catch her throwing quarters into her swear jar on her blog and Facebook. She continues to be confused by The Twitter.
This particular post, however, was written by her husband, Mr. Mommy Needs a Swear Jar. We don’t know if he has more posts like these in them, but we sure hope that he does.