Like I’ve said before, there are few opportunities for me to snag free food, mostly because it’s not gluten free. So when the opportunity comes, I go ALL IN.
In the beginning of November every year, the Penn Stater Hotel holds the Central Pennsylvania Gluten Free Expo for all gluten-free enthusiasts in the area. My friends all chuckle when I rave about this event, but it is truly one of the best days of my year. My mom and I set out early in the morning, prepared with our empty stomachs and bags in hand. Each year, there are signature vendors that line the conference hall floor with tons of free samples and new products. We race to fill our bags and our mouths as gluten free goodies as the day goes on. When we return after our long day of fun, I always fill our entire kitchen table with the free snacks we received throughout the day.
This day is always so special because I get to spend it with my mom and for the first time I don’t feel different. For the first time, I’m surrounded by people just like me for the whole day and nobody looks at me like I’m eating some strange alien food. Yes, I love the free food, but I especially love spending time in a place where I’m the same as everyone else.
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I went through a period of minor depression that I still fall into from time to time. I would start to feel so sorry for myself that I couldn’t eat like everyone else of be like everyone else, that I would just burst into tear at the thought of even eating out at a restaurant. I thought that no one understood me. I remember walking around the kitchen shortly after my diagnosis and marking up almost all of the food in our pantry with a bright red X.
Instead of focusing on what I could eat, I could only see all of the red marks in my cupboard and couldn’t understand why this would happen to me.
This is why the Gluten Free Expo is so important to me. Amidst my periods of food depression and feelings of self pity, I think about how much I treasure this day with my mom and all of the free food, but especially not being scared of not finding something to eat. Not being scared that people will judge me for my gluten free food.
Not being focused on the negative aspects of my life; this is why it is so special.
Bad things will always happen, but the way you choose to think about the bad times can change your entire life. I have lived a much happier life now that I can appreciate all of the great food I CAN eat, and the free food that will always await me at The Penn Stater.
Instead of having a recipe for this week, I’ve attached a link for the Gluten Free Expo, feel free to check it out if you’re curious! Lots of free food is never bad for college students!
Have a great week!
(Gluten) Free Pizza Girl