November 9, 2021

For those who don’t know, ABS is an acronym for maybe the most important know-how for a celiac (other than don’t eat gluten of course): Always. Bring. A. Snack. Going on a day trip? Bring a snack. Going to school? Bring a snack. Work? Bring a snack. Vacation? Bring a snack. To a friend’s house? Bring a snack. A wedding? Bring a snack. The list goes on and on, I cannot stress this enough. In case you’re not convinced, here’s an instance where I personally have learned this lesson.

The Tale of a Lettuce Only Lunch

This was not long after I was first diagnosed with celiacs. For some reason in school, I didn’t have a lunch with me. Maybe I forgot it, maybe there was something wrong with it so I couldn’t eat it. Whatever the reason, I had to go and buy a school lunch. Looking through the many flavors of Doritos, pizzas with multiple different toppings, hash browns, wraps and various flavors of pop tarts, I could not find one thing that was safe for me to eat… until fortune showed itself to in the form of a caesar salad.

My very inexperienced celiac brain reasoned that there isn’t any reason why this salad should have any gluten in it, therefore I was perfectly happy walking back to the table… until I sat down and read the nutrition label and opened the plastic clamp container. A mountain of croutons that were piled on top of the salad greeted me when I flipped back the plastic top of the packaging. The other joyous surprise I got was reading the nutrition label which said ‘maybe contains wheat’ (yes, the label said ‘maybe contains wheat’ I’m not kidding) when listing out the ingredients of the chicken flavoring. Disappointingly, I picked off all of the chicken and croutons and shoved a few leaves of lettuce in my mouth before heading back to class, grumpy from hunger and my misfortune. Let me tell you: there’s nothing like four leaves of iceberg lettuce to satisfy you before going back to write an essay on manifest destiny.

Lesson to learn: always- even if you have to sprint home from the bus stop, almost step on your dog as you leap to grab it, and fling yourself at the bus stairs in order to not miss your ride (totally not based on prior experience)- keep a snack bar or something in your school bag for these situations.

Back to today, where I rarely ever leave my house without my trusty Bob’s Red Mill Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar. I have those pb&j bars stuffed in purses, bags, coat pockets, lunch boxes, my car, literally everywhere I can in order to avoid the Lettuce Situation from happening ever again. If one bar isn’t enough to satisfy me, then I’ll bring two. Kids, never leave the house without a snack. Don’t learn it the hard way.