Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Two Months In... and Other Reflections

Reflections on where I've been
and where I'm going. Hopefully more
green lights await!
I cannot believe that in less than a week, I will have reached the two month milestone of starting Eating Out Without. I guess it goes to show that time really does fly when you're having (gluten and dairy free) fun! Although the blog is mainly geared to restaurant and product reviews, it's also a forum for musings and thoughts on being gluten-free and the gluten-free community at large. 

In these first two months, I've learned a lot, and that's definitely an understatement. I'm constantly thinking about where I want to go and all the possibilities of the future, but also aware that building a blog takes time, patience, and dedication. Feeling reflective, I've decided to delve into things I've learned in these past two months and maybe a give a hopeful look at where I want to go. 

Knowledge Is Power

Part of my motivation for starting Eating Out Without was my frustration with the lack of information on the gluten and dairy free diet. Although limited, there's more often information on gluten-free options, but sometime dairy allergies or information on multiple intolerances get lost in translation. While other special diets such as the vegan diet don't include dairy, vegan offerings may or may not be safe because wheat is allowed. Even from person to person, experiences at the same restaurant or product can be drastically different. Part of my motivation for starting this was my frustration with lack of information, so I hope in some small way, my words and reviews can be help another person feel more informed, or empowered. 

The Gluten-Free Community is Large... and Welcoming!

As of two months ago, I had no idea there was a whole gluten-free community out there. I didn't know anyone on the diet and since no one else in my family has given up gluten, I was an enigma even in my own house. I didn't talk about it with friends and always avoided social contexts where eating was involved to avoid having to talk about my "strange" eating habits. However, my whole outlook changed forever thanks to the Gluten-Free Living Conference, conveniently held a month after I started my blogging adventure. For the first time, I was able to meet others who understood me on a whole new level, and was in a place where (almost) everything was safe for me to eat. Immersed in an alternate G-free universe, I was inspired by the people I met (attendees, fellow bloggers, and vendors), the excitement of discovering new food, and the community atmosphere that brought us all together. It didn't matter if you were celiac, gluten intolerant, allergic to wheat, or any of the thousands of other reasons people turn to the gluten-free diet. All that mattered was that for a moment in time, we were not alone. 

Blogs are Never Set in Stone (But That's Probably a Good Thing)

If there's anything I've learned on this journey, it's that blogs are never really set in stone. Just when you think you've figured out what you're doing, a million more ideas come to mind, each possibility more enticing than the next. Although I want to chase every opportunity I have, I'm still taking baby steps in the grand scheme of things. Some recent changes you may not have noticed are the addition of my weekly e-newsletter and slight change in domain name (www.eatingoutwithout.com). Looking ahead, I will be making the most of my time in Central Florida, because this fall I'll be in the Baltimore area for college. This transition will be yet another change for my blog as I split my time between Florida and Maryland and explore the nuances of navigating college life while being gluten and dairy free. I'll continue to cover restaurants (both local and national chains), products and recipes, and have many articles in the works currently that I can't wait to share. I love the flexibility of blogging in that it will change as my life changes around it. On a final note, next month (in a couple days!) is National Celiac Awareness Month. Although I'm not diagnosed as Celiac, I support any and all efforts to raise awareness for the condition and to fight for stricter safeguards and wider knowledge of the gluten-free diet. After all, we all benefit when awareness is raised.

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