37: There ain’t no other way out | An interview with KC Pomering

There are so very many people out there whose stories can inspire us to find the positivity in our own lives. We can find strength in knowing we are not alone and find hope for a better life. If you know someone who has an inspiring story to share, please, get in touch!

I first met KC in San Francisco when I was dead tired after two days of non-stop gluten-free expo chatter. She dropped by our hotel because she was passing through town and wanted to see my friend Kyra. Who knew that it was the start of one of the craziest friendships that I have ever had? KC is a walking jukebox, and a straight-talking realist with a killer sense of humor. She has introduced me to such things as the “Vowel State Theory” and the fact that people from Illinois can be Illinoying…(I’ll have to prove her wrong on that one). I have to admit, though, that it wasn’t until I read her story that I knew what a struggle she had gone through.

What is your diagnosis?
Celiac Disease & Ulcerative Colitis. I’m also 5’3. Not sure which is the most challenging. I kinda like being Fun Size though – it’s easier to sneak up on people.

How long have you been sick?
That’s a great question. Always maybe? 20 years at least. I’m less sick since I was diagnosed in 2009 and went Gluten Free. I wrote a post about the journey to wellness: http://www.gfreefoodie.com/we-are-all-made-of-scars/ – it took more than a diagnosis to heal. I don’t define myself as “sick” – it’s part of the story, but it’s not the important part.

Why share your message and your story through a blog?
I built G-Free Foodie to help myself & others live deliciously Gluten Free, the blog seemed like a natural extension of the website. Otherwise, I think everybody would have wondered who the hell was teaching them to make Bacon & Sage Roast Chicken, reviewing 15 kinds of GF Brownie mix & writing guides to Gluten Free Fast food. It started out mostly product reviews & information, now it’s how I connect with our readers.

What is it like to be a young person living with long-term health concerns?
It can be scary. The what-ifs will send me down a bad path, so I try not to go there mentally. I spend a lot of time trying to find stuff to be grateful for – sometimes I can see the good in everything, sometimes I’m just glad I’m not allergic to cheese.

How do you respond to people who doubt or belittle your pain or illness?
That depends on two things: my mood, and whether or not I think they can be educated. I’m also a big fan of the standard answer: phrases I use automatically when someone says something epically stupid. Such as:

Them: “Gluten Free? No beer or bread? I’d kill myself/just die/never live that way”
Me: “Well, I’ve chosen Option 2: Don’t Die. I totally see throwing yourself off a bridge for Keystone Light though.”

Them: “Can’t you just eat a little?/I’ll just take the bread off./You’re really a pain in the butt.”
Me: I’ll just go ahead & avoid the violent diarrhea and colon cancer, if its all the same to you. Thanks for your concern.

I only do that when someone is being really obtuse, but I have a few milder versions too. It usually shuts the other person down – which is the goal. I’m not into having a battle of wits with someone who is both insensitive and unarmed.

I also never expect anyone to work around my issues: I bring my own food, I’ll drive my own car if I’m worried I won’t feel well, if I’m traveling in a group, I work out my accommodations in advance. If someone has a bad attitude about my illness, it’s never because I put them out: it’s their issue.

You have turned your dietary restrictions into a growing business. How did you decide to start G-Free Foodie?
I needed help living Gluten Free, and I decided to help myself & see if it would help others. Once the site grew, I knew there was a need, and we expanded. We’ve just launched our monthly G-Free Foodie Box Club, because our readers wanted incredible artisan foods that were safe for them to eat. My entire career has been in food & wine, so I knew a few folks. Now we ship Meyer Lemon Infused Organic Olive Oil, handmade chocolates, and Gluten Free crostini to Foodies with allergies all over the U.S.

What is your go-to wellness tip?
Green Tea. Homemade Chicken Stock. Yoga. Great Friends. Not necessarily in that order.

What has being sick taught you about your life? Has it changed how you see things?
It set me on the path to see that life and health are precious. Not just mine, but everyone else’s too. Every human has a story – one we don’t know. If you met me on the street, even if you talked to me for a few minutes, all you’d know was that I was a Fun Size woman from an Italian-Armenian farming family, and that my hair is blond today. You wouldn’t know what it took for me to get here, or what it will take to get where I’m going. And that’s true for everyone.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that gets you through the rough days?

I have two:

“Don’t light your hair on fire for anybody.” – Bud Light Debbie

“There ain’t no other way out but through it.” – K.C. Pomering

kcpomering-headshotThe creator of G-Free Foodie, KC Pomering, found herself at a turning point in early 2009 after a physican suggested she may have Celiac Disease.  After enduring rounds of medical appointments and seemingly endless tests, she was diagnosed with autoimmune issues and multiple food intolerances.

Since KC’s father is a fourth-generation California farmer and her mother is a phenomenal cook, it’s no wonder that KC had become a self-proclaimed foodie and chosen a career path in the food & wine industries. After her diagnosis, KC created the concept for G-Free Foodie, a resource for flavorful Gluten Free living including the tastiest Gluten Free products, lots of recipes and an extensive database of restaurants that offer delicious Gluten Free dining options.