My Life as a Monster: Going Gluten, Wheat, and Dairy-Free

Michael Murray currently lives and works in Toronto. He has an extensive wardrobe and is a dominant and intimidating presence on the Bocce Ball field...

My wife Rachelle and I visited a naturopath about a month ago and it was an interesting and kind of weird experience, like visiting the past for a medical diagnosis. The naturopath quickly determined my GI tract was in some sort of distress and said I would have to eliminate gluten, wheat and dairy from my diet, as well as cut down my alcohol consumption by about 7,000%. He then suggested I keep a journal describing my daily “moodscape” as I journeyed along this new path. He also said I should colour-code my state of mind for each day, adding, “Eventually, you want all your days to be sky blue.”

Here are some excerpts from my journal:


Day 4:
I feel angry.

I don’t believe that there was ever an Alpha male on this planet who stood up at a dinner party and said, “I’m sorry, but I have some dietary restrictions. Is there any wheat, dairy or gluten in any of the food you’re serving? Oh, okay. No worries, I have some carrots in a baggie over here. By the way, we march on Rome at dawn!”

Colour: The green/black of a tornado sky.


Day 5:
Last night I had a dream that actress Jennifer Lawrence and I were living together and that I barked at her for brushing her hair too loudly. “I just wanted to look beautiful for you,” she said, and then burst into tears. I felt horrible, like a monster, and I woke up from the dream in the morning angry, ashamed and guilty, a “moodscape” I was been unable to shake.

Colour: Alternating between blue and black.


Day 8:
Today I went to see Iron Man III again, eating an entire box of Wheat Thins in the movie theatre. Gluten never seems to get in Iron Man’s way, so why should it get in mine?

After a little bit of time I now realize that binging on Wheat Thins was probably the dietary equivalent of picking up an ill-advised smoking habit. However, I really don’t care, I just wanted to take a small measure of control back over my life, and truth be told, I’m still feeling a little raw about my behaviour with Jennifer the other night. It’s just a very confusing time for me right now.

Rachelle had Dairy Queen for dessert tonight. Again.

I had rice crisps. Again.

Colour: It’s not a good colour.


Day 10:
I learned something new today while watching the Stanley Cup finals with some friends, and that is that beer is pretty much made of gluten. I hardly ever drink beer, but I was still completely demoralized to find out it’s off-limits for me, as were the slutty nachos and burgers that everybody else was devouring with such ease and gusto.

Feeling left out, I got drunk on gluten-free vodka. I also got in my first fistfight since grade five. Hopefully it wasn’t captured on video, as it turns out I cannot take a good slap.

Colour: Colour coding my days is stupid.


Day 13:
I threw a (medium-sized) rock at a bird today and hit it. It couldn’t quite fly right after the blow and that made me feel powerful. A strong man with good aim, a man who would shape his own destiny—that’s how I felt.

Ate kelp noodles with shredded kale for dinner.

Colour: Palomino gold.


Day 15:
Fuck Montreal.

Fuck Montreal in the ear hole.

I just cancelled the trip we were planning on taking there for Rachelle’s birthday. I don’t want to go on a trip that’s defined by all the perfectly crafted, delicious foods I’m not allowed to eat. If I can’t have a croissant or smoked meat sandwich, then Rachelle doesn’t need a birthday. I have put my foot down.

Colour: A confident, furious black


Day 16:
I really love being in Montreal and I’m awfully glad Rachelle was able to alter my “moodscape” to allow me to see how thoughtless and selfish it was to try to cancel our trip because of my dietary restrictions. Just because I can’t have a smoked meat sandwich doesn’t mean that Rachelle shouldn’t enjoy one in front of me! Dig in! And hey, she should go right ahead and flirt with that beautiful man in that saucy hat! He’s leaning against an awfully nice looking car, he is! I bet it’s worth more than that house we bid on and didn’t get! That was fun, bidding on houses every weekend and almost winning. After all, it’s about doing your best, not owning a home and building a future! Happy birthday, Rachelle, don’t mind me, you go live your beautiful, dairy-saturated life, and I’ll just sit here in my gluten-free corner!

Colour: The peaceful, soothing yellow of a 2mg tablet of Ativan.

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Michael Murray currently lives and works in Toronto. He has an extensive wardrobe and is a dominant and intimidating presence on the Bocce Ball field. He won the New Yorker Cartoon Caption contest and dislikes Cuba. He works as a creative writer, copywriter, blogger and “journalist” and as he is modest, he feels awkward talking about his genius, which he recently found out does not translate into IQ tests. His work has appeared in the Toronto Standard, Slant Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen and