Friday, March 16, 2007

Fabulous friends

For so many people with Celiac, that hardest thing to deal with is friends and family who "just don't get it". The folks who are supposed to be your support network can be the same ones who unintentionally throw up road blocks to healthy living.

"You can just pick off the croutons."
"It only has a little bit of flour to thicken it."
"You can cheat every once in a while."
"But Grandma made this cake for you. Do you want to hurt her feelings?"
"Well, it is just soy sauce!"

They mean well, really they do. It can be difficult to understand the effect of glutening on the body if you yourself don't have Celiac. So often it is associated with allergies, where there are short-term issues, but in the long run no damage is done. It can be easy to believe that, too. You see that hot, steaming slice of pizza. It tantalizes you with it's oozing cheese, sweet-savory sauce, and delicious toppings (of your choice.) Why not? Sure your gut will be painfully bloated for 24-48 hours. And no, there are no pills you can take. But it is worth it, right? WRONG!!! While the obvious effects are "short lived", the damage done to the small intestines can take 6 months to heal. That is six months of decreased nutrient absorption. We Celiacs have first hand experience with "brain fog", mood swings, and skin sensitivities. Really, not worth it.

Most friends and family are well meaning. They try so hard. They purchase foods labeled GF, get the GF shopping lists from local stores (Trader Joe's and Whole Foods), and look online for GF recipes. It is sweet and wonderful and loving. It almost makes you feel not so bad if they accidentally cross-contaminate your food. Hey! No one told them that their wood spoons could make you sick.

Then there are those people in your life who go above and beyond. At my parents house I have my own shelf in the pantry. Dad makes homemade salad dressing every time I come over. My best friend is getting married in a year and has already started asking the reception hall about making my food GF. She even has mentioned getting a super fancy GF cupcake from Swirlz so that I can have wedding cake. (Love ya, hon!) And then there is the friend who, whenever we go out to dinner, goes online to find a restaurant with a GF menu. Being able to choose from an entire menu of safe dishes is fantastic. (The ironic thing is that we have eaten out many times. When I choose the restaurants they have no GF menu. When he has chosen the restaurant they always do.)

What have the people in your life done to make living with Celiac a less challenging experience?


Lynn Barry said...

I don't have celiacs but I experience all kinds of bad effects when ingesting gluten, facial break outs, nervousness, depression, headaches...any way you get the idea and I hear ya...I still get the, "Once in a while just have something, it can't be that bad." AND THIS IS MY MOTHER!!!! It is like she is still looking at me as the difficult middle child she raised when all the time I was probably intolerant and they all thought I was just the middle child and difficult or odd...hang in there, I get it too. I love the, "just take off the batter" when they are having a fish fry or Kentucy Fried Chicken...ugh..HUGS

Dondi said...

Where do I start? Let's start with the worst experience: We went out to a "Steak" house (read Golden Corral-ish) where everything was buffet. I tried hard to dissuade my family from eating there, but to no avail. So I decide I will tough it out and get some meat and probably a baked potato. Wrong! They had no butter besides what was on the buffet and the person making steaks was not helpful. So in the end I ate nothing. I felt bad that the meal was paid for and I ate nothing. It was the most ackward experience but it did once-and-for-all demonstrate how much I meant business about my diet. Especially when I am visiting family for only a few days, I cannot afford to be sick and moody.
That said, I have a wonderful network of friends that have really gone beyond my expectations. The greatest example was when I visited my husband's family for Thanksgiving last year. They made sure there was plenty for me to eat with little/no effort on my part. They found GF pancake mix and made home-made GF stuffing from some GF bread they found on their own!! It was delicious!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you...if you go to my blog,, you'll read of a similar experience I had last week. Very disheartening, to say the least. My sister is Ellen, of I Am Gluten Free....she is my inspiration and helps guide me. I was diagnosed 5 yrs ago and struggle..anyway, you have my support and wonderful people who accomodate your health issues. Kudos to you for teaching them!. Have a great day...

Carol said...

My partner, family and friends are extremely supportive, but I still struggle with embarrassment. I don't want to impose my restrictions on other people and feel awkward asking them to go out of their way. I occasionally bare it in silence and deal with the bloating, sickness and mood swings for the next few days.

I recently created a negative situation. A friend offered to bake a gf cake for my b'friend's b'day. She's a baker and I know how much reaching perfection in her baking means to her. I didn't want to impose gf on her cooking - the potential of a flat cake and the additional costs... This is ridiculous because there are alot of amazing gf cakes and she offered ! The result was that I insisted she should cook something she wanted and on the party night I felt miserable with not being able to share in the celebration with my partner and friends and had some cake knowing the discomfort it would cause. All of this could have been avoided if I had had the confidence to accept her kind offer.

I am trying to build up a dialog to make it easier.

How do other people deal with this?