In 2017, there’s a high probability that someone has said something to you similar to this exchange in the TV comedy “Family Guy”: “Hey, you want to go out and get some gluten-free pizza? I’m gluten-free now. But, you know, I’m not gonna be annoying about it. Too late.”
OK, maybe not exactly like that, but close enough. The nuisance of going out to eat with someone who lives gluten-free can often be a pain. They ask the server for a gluten-free menu, and when they’re told there isn’t one, they ask to speak with a manager who comes strolling out with a big, red binder labeled “allergy information.” At this point, your family and friends are rolling their eyes, one of them is kicking you underneath the table and the manager is making your allergy a bigger deal than it needs to be by drawing the attention of a few other tables around you. You’ve had enough. You tell the server, “You know what, I’ll pass,” and ask for a water.
Funnily enough, this “annoying, high-maintenance, pain in the butt gluten-free person” happens to be me. To be fair, I have gone through the proper medical testing to show that I cannot consume gluten, but many people have chosen this as a lifestyle because they have shown signs of being gluten-intolerant or have concluded that it’s a healthier lifestyle. Many of these people get used to the endless jokes at the dinner table about their current “trend” and are often told that they are just psyching themselves out: To this, I say please stop.
You can’t say someone is just psyching themselves out when they say they don’t feel well and don’t know why.
Novak Djokovic, a 12-time tennis Grand Slam champion, was suffering from mid-match collapses, physical crises that made it hard to breathe, and was taking frequent trips to the bathroom to violently vomit. He had taken the proper medical tests to determine if he had Celiac, an autoimmune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, but to Djokovic’s disappointment, his medical tests were negative and he found himself still searching for answers.
That was until he met with Dr. Igor Cetojevic, a nutritionist and Serbian medical professional who was an expert in functional medicine and preventive care.
Independent.com writer Paul Newman told the story of the moment Djokovic’s life changed forever.
“Cetojevic told Djokovic to stretch out his right arm while placing his left hand on his stomach. The doctor then pushed down on Djokovic’s right arm and told him to resist the pressure. The strength Djokovic would feel in holding firm, the doctor said, was exactly what he should experience.” Newman wrote in his article.
In the next step of the test, Cetojevic gave Djokovic a slice of bread.
“He told the bemused player not to eat it but to hold it against his stomach with his left hand while he again pushed down on his outstretched right arm. To Djokovic’s astonishment, the arm felt appreciably weaker. It was what Cetojevic had expected. His crude test had been to discover whether Djokovic was sensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other bread grains,” Newman wrote.
Since committing himself to a gluten-free diet, Djokovic has won Grand Slams at a rapid pace and was ranked the No. 1 tennis player in the world for the first time of his career. The tennis star credits his gluten-free lifestyle for his success and says he has felt lighter, gained greater flexibility, looser joints and no longer feels like his head is in a cloud.
This isn’t to say going gluten-free is for everyone — in my opinion, it isn’t. However, if you don’t feel 100 percent, and notice some of the symptoms you can find online when you search “gluten intolerance,” or when you read articles like this, don’t let the jokes behind living a gluten-free lifestyle get in the way of trying something like Djokovic did to make yourself feel better. It’s worth a shot.