This morning, I am in a meeting with some really big and important people, yet somehow our individual dietary preferences seem to be dominating conversation. I am gluten-free, the girl to my left is dairy-free, and the man opposite me is demonstrating his disdain for these "fads" by lavishly dunking his all-butter shortbread in his milky cup of tea (dairy milk. Obv). Because gluten-free equals fun-free, and don't get him started on lactose.
Oh contraire, mes amis. Because, thanks to the ever-expanding supermarket free-from aisles, no more does gluten-free equal sad, sorry-looking cakes and bread so dry it hurts.
I'm not really sure exactly when I chose to go gluten-free. My post-school snack of choice (because 4pm 'til a 6pm dinner was far too long to go without an extra meal) was one or five bowls of Shreddies. And the deliberately high-calorie ration packs we ate on exercise in the army had gluten as a primary ingredient.
When I ran the marathon in 2012, the idea of pasta scared me so much (I always bloated after carby meals, to the point of borderline-anorexia because I deduced that carbs were the enemy) that I couldn't even carb-load. Of course, I also cut chilli and high-fibre foods out for the week before in fear of a Paul Radcliffe-Type situation, but that's another story entirely.
Back then I'm not sure I even knew what gluten was. Now, I am fully versed, and know my bulgar wheat from my buckwheat (the latter is GF. Surprisingly). And I am so much healthier as a result. This week, Vanessa White and I ran a charity 10k for LadyGarden. It was a happy, stress-free occasion. I lost no sleep wondering whether my tummy would flare up apparently randomly.
Contrary to popular belief, I am not limited to hippie, tree-huggy outlets, and I am not perpetually hungry. Right now, I am in Farmstand which - turns out - is entirely gluten-free. I didn't realise until my fourth or fifth visit.
And this weekend, I took a bunch of friends to dinner at Bunga Bunga. We entered via a meat cellar, sat in a rowing boat, and were given life-jackets and sailors' hats to wear. Our pizza was gluten-free, but my Uber receipt for 4am Sunday morning is proof enough that we had a LOT of fun.
So my point: gluten-free doesn't mean taste, sustenance or fun-free. Especially if you like tequila as much as I do (some vodka is made from wheat, some from potato - it's a gamble I'm unwilling to take). Mum always used to try and trick dad into eating my sister's vegetarian Bolognese to see if he could taste the difference. He always did. What he doesn't know is that he's been eating gluten-free spaghetti for the past 18months. And my dad notices everything.