The store was crammed with groceries stacked from floor to ceiling on bulky metal racks. Only one buggy could squeeze into the narrow aisles. It was my first time in this specialty store as it carried those items not found in conventional grocery stores. I bore in mind the words of my doctor scrawled on the tiny piece of paper in my pocket.
No gluten. No dairy. No processed sugar
I stared at the list of items in my hand. This diet was suggested as a possible means to reduce my flares. By implementing this diet, I might have fewer meetings with the old lady – it was worth a shot.
The bread aisle was crammed with tiny loaves that cost twice as much and were half the size of regular bread. They looked like the food of elves and hobbits. Each miniature loaf listed ingredients like rice flour, kamut, teff flour and spelt. Some were dense, feeling like square bricks in my hands; others had an alien look about them, as if they belonged in a science fiction film. I plunked one into my basket.
The dairy case was filled with products made with everything but dairy — butter made with soy, soy yogurt, soy milk, lactose free milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk – it was an endless choice of alternative dairy products. This proved to be less of a challenge. I navigated these seas years ago as I was already lactose intolerant; and if I indulged in the odd specialty cheese, there was always a little pill to help aid the digestion.
Cutting out processed sugar was tricky. Sugar appeared to be in everything, natural or otherwise. I preferred savoury rather than sweet. I set about selecting foods with the least amount of sugars.
I strutted home with my new specialty groceries and endeavoured to create a meal intended to combat the inflammation in my body. I reached into my wine fridge and pulled out a bottle of wine to sip while cooking and to accompany our gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free meal. I pulled the cork from the bottle and sniffed at the dark crimson color that tinted the end… and that’s when I realized that wine had processed sugars.
The fragrance of its tannins lingered in my nose. I could taste the full rich flavour even before the first sip. I looked at the healthy food and gluten-free recipe that covered my counter… I saw the words on the piece of paper: No processed sugar…. I looked back at the cherry color on the end of the cork; it was like a red sunset on the horizon in a foreign land; it promised me a world of luscious flavour. I poured the burgundy liquid into a rounded goblet; it was Italy, Spain and France all rolled into one neat little glass…the aroma twirled out and danced around my head…No processed sugar…I raised the glass to my lips; a small drop lingered on the rim and I let it drop onto my tongue, delighting in the flavour that spread across my taste buds…
Well, two out of three ain’t bad…
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.