Things I miss about eating wheat

by April_M

You’d think it would be doughnuts but no. Although doughnuts would be nice, too.

It was a relief when a doctor finally told me why I was in so much pain and so tired all the time, especially after meals. It was an even bigger relief when I stopped being an idiot in denial and actually stopped eating wheat. Life is so much nicer with less pain and misery. But there are a few things I miss about my wheat eating days. Let me tell you about some of them.

(Photo by Peter Werkman of, used under creative commons licence).

1) Really soft bread and treats.

Perhaps the most obvious thing people, including me, miss about our wheat eating days. This is getting better all the time, both as products improve and as my taste buds have changed. I had some cake in town a few weeks ago that was made with almonds and I still want another slice!


In other countries, even other western countries, there’s less of an over reliance on wheat and other glutens. The US, for example, has a tradition in many regions of using a great deal more corn for bread and other delicious things. Here the norm is wheat, and even when we borrow recipes and ideas from other cultures we add the stuff. It’s in everything.  As a nation we’re very used to the texture and consistency of foods made and thickened with wheat, so even the good substitutes taste just a little bit wrong (Except corn flour in sauces. More people should use that - it’s much finer and less grainy. Your gravy will thank you). So yes, I miss good crumpets, soft bread that isn’t expensive tiny and crumbly, and more cake that doesn’t disintegrate when I look at it. And doughnuts. If someone in the US can find me good GF doughnuts I’ll swap for Marmite and really good tea?

2) Affordable, convenient ‘normal people’ food.

The expense! The horror! I miss being able to buy a loaf for under £2.50-£3, of a reasonable size and shape to make a sandwich, with decent sandwich consistency.  I can choose between these three things these days but can't have all of them. I miss being able to grab fast food or a sausage roll without remortgaging or even thinking about it. I can’t pop into Gregs with a friend on the way up the street. Food requires thought and planning.

Service stations on the motorway are a little better now but there was one horrible journey when I was pregnant and couldn’t find anything but crisps all day. My husband’s arm started to look tasty…

We don't eat people.

Eating people is wrong.
Surviving Picasso

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3) Not answering daft questions.

Anyone who's a little different in any way gets plenty of questions, and that's probably a good thing. I don’t mind the intelligent questions, or even the not so interesting but necessary questions.What’s gluten? can you eat other grains if you’re not a coeliac? Is there wheat in this sauce? Are sweets a problem? Can we eat at such and such a place together? That kind of thing. There are some questions that drive me a little bananas after a few hundred repetitions though, so I’ll just go ahead and give the answers. Those of you with a wheat allergy or coeliacs disease feel free to cut and paste, put them on business cards and just hand them out.

No, it won’t be ok to just scrape the gravy off.

No, it isn’t a fad.

Yes, apples/pears/carrots are gluten free.

No, I won’t have any more of the lovely gluten free dish you just stuck a floury spoon into, thanks… *wistful sigh*

I’ll tell you when we’re not at the dinner table.
(In answer to ‘what happens if you eat…’ Alternative answers; That’s a terribly personal question! You must be embarrassed!/Do you really want to know?/I’d tell you but…. it’s too traumatic *sob*.)

4) Eating out without playing twenty questions.

This one's double pronged, like the chocolate fondue of your dreams. I miss both a) not having to worry or think about my food when I’m out, especially at social and professional events, and b) not having my diet or worse, my innards, be the main topic of conversation among colleagues or random professionals the first time I’ve met them! Luckily I’m a qualified librarian so my superpower is quickly getting everyone talking about books and comparing the book and the movie. (Hint; The book is nearly always better). Sometimes though my symptoms are apparently far more of a draw.

I live near a big city that does have some really great gluten free options these days, but whenever I go somewhere new I have to be certain that the people working there understand that wheat can be hidden and I really miss not feeling like a difficult customer.  It’s usually better in places where they cook from scratch and the chef knows what went into it, because if something was bought in and someone hasn’t kept the packaging it’s usually better not to risk the dish. Even when you call ahead it can be an issue.  One memorable work event was in a lovely restaurant where they made pasta just for me! Out of semolina. Semolina is an extract from wheat. Kind, but I had to upset them by not eating it.

Wheat and I went our separate ways many years ago now, with occasional accidental meet ups that nobody really enjoys very much (It’s off my Christmas card list now). I no longer really miss wheat itself, despite point one above. The substitutions get better and better every year, I’ve found, and it’s just so normal to me now that many of the workarounds are just… what I do. It’s the social and convenience sides that can be a little embarrassing. It would be lovely to just eat something in a cafe without quizzing the staff about their storage methods. I'd deeply love to not discuss the intimate workings of my innards with people I don't know, too.

Human nature being what it is I don’t see that changing, so luckily those of us with food intolerances often have a great sense of humour about it.

I’m still looking for that doughnut.

Updated: 01/14/2014, April_M
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Danielle on 02/10/2014

Of course that should have said texture!

Danielle on 02/10/2014

Look out for our gluten free blood orange cake recipe on Thursday - the text is beautifully moist! Edinburgh Foody

April_M on 01/17/2014

Ellen - Thanks for dropping by! I really appreciate that link! It's always better to try recipes other people have guineapigged for you. :)
(Good name for a website too.)

Ellen on 01/17/2014

Through a series of random internet clicks I came to this page (maybe saw your link in a comment on The Bloggess?), and I felt compelled to share this lady's site with you. She has awesome recipes for grain free eating, and the cakes/cookies/breads I have made from these are delicious! I have both of her cookbooks and it makes dropping the wheat incredibly easy. She adapts a lot of Southern US recipes, and as a southerner from the states I can say that these are spot on. She even has a recipe for grain free doughnuts.

Also, I have no affiliation with her what-so-ever, but just felt like sharing.

April_M on 01/17/2014

I recently discovered cornflour thanks to Jack Monroe's chickpea and chorizo burger recipe. Mmm! Any tips on mashing them more easily?

Mira on 01/17/2014

Yes, convenience can be a problem, but I guess the good think is that you can save some money this way. I find that when I have less money to spend and/or want to eat healthier I end up eating more of my own food than pastries in town. As for cooking wheat-free, that can also bring in more variety (using chickpeas instead of flour, adding some ground flaxseed, etc.). I think we rely too heavy on wheat here in Romania, too.

April_M on 01/17/2014

ETA; Someone's found me a doughnut!!! It's so exciting that I need to abuse the exclamation mark!!!!

April_M on 01/16/2014

I have been remiss answering your lovely comments! Sorry!

Ruth - That is upsetting. Especially when someone, as you say, has gone to so much trouble. It's so easy to do with dietary restrictions you're not used to though. Slightly different but I once accidentally glugged a fair bit of wine in a Spag. Bog. I was making for a pregnant friend who'd stopped drinking for the duration.

AbbyFitz - It took years to come to terms with it! Some places here do and I can now get good GF pizza! Delivered! Also there's one brand of bread that's very close to perfect. If you can ever get a loaf of Genius bread, do!

Guest - much healthier for me.

Ellie - much sympathy.

Moe - Nooo! That's a tragedy. I won't bother bribing my friends n the States to send them over, then! Since no one had a chip pan or deep fat fryer any more it's going to be tricky to get home made doughnuts right, here. I think I'lll go and challenge my favourite GF brand. Twitter here I come!

Moe on 01/15/2014

As a Canadian in a similar position I feel compelled to tell you that some of those yummy treats look *much* better than they taste, pretty much like GF bread. Homemade is better.

And now you have made me really hungry for homemade doughnuts. I need to go adapt a recipe and make some...

Ellie on 01/15/2014

Ruth - I know that issue too well! I'm allergic to soy (or, I have a type 4 delayed hypersensitivity). I can't eat out without all the quizzing, or someone looking at me like I'm nuts...*sigh*

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