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On the Outside Looking In: Gluten Free, Family, Holidays and Heartbreak

With the Christmas quickly upon us, I thought today would be the perfect time to answer the following question by one of my wonderful readers…about being on the gluten free diet, dealing with family and fitting in to society (this question was originally posted on my Facebook page).

Do any other GF moms (I have Celiac and so do my 10 yo daughter and 7 yo son) feel heartbroken when you can’t get family to understand what it feels like to see your kids have to eat “alternate” food at everything?
My kids take their special lunch to school EVERY DAY – have never gone through the cafeteria line, they have never eaten pizza/etc… at a birthday party not to mention they have to bring their own treat and can never have the cake, and then holidays just turn out to be a disaster.
I can cook gluten free food very well and I enjoy it… so I’d love to make a holiday meal that EVERYONE can eat – not one where there is segregated food for myself and my kids.
I’d like there to be one meal of the year with others where my kids don’t feel like they are not allowed to enjoy what everyone else is eating. 
But the relatives insist that there can be the regular or “normal” version and a gluten-free version and then everyone will be so happy! I don’t think they notice it comes off this way, but it feels like they are saying – “your GF food is so disgusting that we can’t bear to eat it and that would totally ruin the holiday, so we will just have to have our gluten-filled food also.”
This week has totally made me understand why women with celiac have a high incidence of anxiety.
-N.S.

I’ve been there my friend, and still am, at least in one aspect.  I will cut the small talk and just get down to the heart of the matter on this very difficult, yet very real, subject matter.

I have lost too many hours of sleep trying to re-create foods that my kids’ friends wouldn’t ridicule.  I have taken too many years off my life allowing myself be sick with worry over what effect our dietary restrictions must be having on my family’s ability to function in this world.

I’ve seen the abyss staring back at me, the 3 a.m. sobbing in the darkness of the closet wondering “what the hell am I going to do now?”

And then, without even realizing what I was doing, I embraced the philosophy of Steve Jobs.

My husband wrote a great post some time back about how he felt he was Indiana Jones when it came to the gluten-free lifestyle.  Without any pretension and with all humility, I can tell you that as far as I am concerned, I strive to be the Steve Jobs of gluten-free.

Think Different

When Steve came back to Apple in 1997 the company was a mess, on this point almost everyone can agree.  Apple had been spending too much time and talent trying to compete in the already crowded field of “basic-beige-box-monitor-keyboard-mouse-bad-software-that-nobody-likes” personal computing.

Think about it: Apple was trying to get a share of a huge business model that NOBODY LIKED.  You really can’t inspire greatness when your marketing slogan is “Our computers crash less often.”

While “going along to get along” would have been reasonable for most companies (after all, even mediocre computer companies could generate gobs of free cash flow just by showing up to the game), Steve refused to embrace the concept of “best house in a crappy neighborhood.”

The problem wasn’t the house; the problem was the neighborhood.

So, Steve decided it was time for his little corporate family to move to a better part of town, and if that part of town didn’t exist, then they would just have to build it themselves and see who else might move in there as well.

The first corporate slogan that Apple adopted when Steve returned was “Think Different.”

At first blush, this sentence is grammatically incorrect.  “Different” should be an adverb (differently) that modifies the verb “think.”  That wasn’t the point.  Steve didn’t want to think differently about the same old model, Steve wanted his people to think of a different model, a completely new way of man and machine embracing the world.  In his own words (thanks to Wiki):

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world.  Try not to bash into the walls too much.  Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life.  Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you.  And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it.  That’s maybe the most important thing.  It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways.  Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

And that, my friends, is the all embracing passion that was Steve Jobs.

If you accept the world as it has been given to you,

If you will allow the expectations of other people to shrink the world in which you live,

If you choose to let your past define the actions that will determine your future…

Then you will end up with a boring beige box running on somebody else’s flawed operating system, that no one really liked to begin with.

Do Different

After many years of banging my head against the wall and feeling on the outside looking in, I can honestly say that the key to restoring my sanity was only to be found in rejecting the old model of the standard American diet and its social implications.

This was a necessary first step but certainly not the last one.  “Nature abhors a vacuum.”  What a true statement.

If you are spending your time and energy trying to fit in to the old model, or trying to shed yourself of the old model, but not consciously embracing a new way of living, then in my opinion you are destined for any number of bad ideas to rush in and fill the vacuum.

Nothing sharpens this sentiment more than the holidays, the time when we are all supposed to embrace our inner Norman Rockwell, put all family differences aside, and just hope that for a few days the system doesn’t crash.

Insert “blue screen of death” here.


You see, you are fighting against a system that to a certain extent is wired into your DNA.  Certainly your physical DNA, but your social and emotional DNA as well.  This is why our lifestyle is such a struggle sometimes; what is necessary is inherently counter-intuitive.  The gluten-free lifestyle (if we are to function in the “normal” world) demands that we grow gills and breathe underwater; it demands that we sprout wings and fly.

From an anthropological perspective, belonging was essential to survival.  People hunted and cooked in groups in order to protect each other and share the workload in order to better insure their survival.  While most people no longer belong to nomadic tribes, we still have a desire to belong and to protect those in our groups; it’s a Maslow thing.

This time of year brings our individual histories with the holidays into clear focus.  In a sense, our anthropology sabotages our more rational selves, because the collective “tribal survival” instinct kicks in and it is sometimes so powerful that it cannot be overcome.

I struggle with this in a profound way because my memories are still so clear and the emotional joy that such reminiscences create are painful, acute, and very real.

Such is life.

I’ve been a fanatic over the holidays ever since I was a small child.  It was a magical time of the year for me, when my Mom would come alive and decorate our home full tilt (why she didn’t “come alive” the rest of the time is a completely different post).  She would plan special activities and bake cookies for me and my sisters, surprise us with little gifts throughout the month of December – which I always thought was to keep us from asking “How many more days mom???”  But now that I’m a mom, I know it had more to do with her enjoying the expression on our faces greeting us at the door after school with a beautifully decorated little package.

My Dad was always in charge of the holiday feast (including the “roast beast”) and I was his pint sized sous chef.  Those memories of being in the kitchen with my Dad are some of my most precious, not just because they were fun times…but because I may never experience them with him again.

No, my Dad is not dying, he’s very much alive and well.  So what’s the problem you ask?

I can no longer cook a holiday feast with my Dad because the gluten-filled foods my parents prepare for the holidays are poisonous to me and my family.

Carrots are Carrots, Right?

Not that my Dad would not enjoy preparing delicious gluten free gravy with me, the problem is that my mom wouldn’t eat it.

Nor would she eat a “gluten free” carrot, because, ya know, gluten free carrots taste funny.  (To clarify: my Mom has recently started to come around a bit, I’m speaking about my early struggles here).

As it turns out, carrots are not always “carrots”!

And I’ll clue you in to a little truth at this point: what you thought you knew is not always what you think you know.  That is the disconnect with which many of us struggle; our memories and deep emotional bonds with our families and friends can be so easily strained and even severed over our dietary need to “Think Different.”

Most people don’t want to think different.  They want to live their lives in a manner so that they arrive safely at death.

I summon every ounce of courage I have when I say this: I will not live my life in a manner so that I may simply arrive safely at death.  I didn’t invent this phrase and I’m not sure who did.  But it is my motto and should most certainly be yours as well.

Epic Struggle

The struggles I experienced with my family were at times epic.  I honestly can’t remember how many half-truths and rationalizations I allowed myself to believe so that I could simply feel like I belonged once again.  If I honestly knew how much time, money, and energy I devoted to the effort of “fitting in at all costs,” I would probably cry.  But I can’t change that, I can only share my experience with all of you and try try try to help you move beyond the old ordinary as quickly as possible.

There is so much content on my blog devoted to transforming our favorite gluten-filled memories to gluten-free reality.  I view it as a challenge and have always done my best to be as honest and candid as possible.

But at the end of the day, it will never be the same.  It will never be easy for any of us as long as we continue to cling to the idea that we can “bend a little as long as we don’t break.”  I now believe that for “us,” the select few who have been forced to fundamentally re-think their relationship with food (and by extension, our fondest memories), we can no longer afford to try and “think differently.”  That won’t work.

We cannot hope to build a more elegant “plain beige box.”  This proposition is as impossible for us as it was for Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple.

So what is one to do?

I challenge you to channel your inner Steve, to come up with something like this:

Hello, World!  I’m not beige anymore!  I’m indigo.  Or lime, strawberry, tangerine, grape, etc., etc.

This computer had a handle built into the top of the unit.  Completely useless but fun in its suggestion.  Apple guru Jonathan Ive apparently had to overcome every objection of the Apple suits to get his “handle” built into the machine.  Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of the explosion of mobile Apple devices to follow.  This is entirely the POINT!  You never know when a seemingly innocuous and useless add-on can become the fundamental pillar upon which greatness is built.

To say that Apple “just makes computers” is to say that our food is simply “gluten-free.”  The only way we can aspire to greatness is if we are willing to “think different.”  It’s not just that our diet and lifestyle are necessary for our health and the health of our family.  Our lifestyle is fundamentally BETTER than most others, and any objective look at waist-lines and cholesterol counts will confirm this.

You are DIFFERENT, you are not thinking differently, you are “thinking different.”  In the final analysis, when your extended family and the world looks at you and asks, “why are you doing this?”…your immediate response, not from training or spite or tragic defense, but from a position of supreme Steve confidence, should be…

“Why aren’t you?”

 

I will be shutting down for a week or so to celebrate the holidays with my little gluten free family.  I wish you all a VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

In closing the old year, I leave you with my husband’s favorite “political” quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

 

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Comments

  1. Allison says:

    What a great post! We had "different" thrust upon us when my brother's family's plans changed. My mother had her first Thanksgiving ever of not cooking. My family took an impromptu ski trip, and I cooked my first ever thanksgiving dinner — all gluten Freda d fabulous. Sometimes, a little forced change is good.

    Stay warm!

  2. Allison says:

    *free and*. Grrrrr iPhone.

    • Debbie B in MD says:

      Actually I likes the "Freda d fabulous." I thought it was your way of thinking "different." I really think it is a great expression. Freda d fabulous it is!!!!!!!!

  3. Christine says:

    To get to the point, I've been:

    1. Arrogantly accused of living in fear when I told them I'm gluten intolerant. I wanted to shout, "HA! It takes a lot of courage to live gluten-free in a toxic world of gluten-laden garbage!" but I walked away. Now that person is getting her comeuppance studying biochemistry and nutrition in chiropractic college. Classes she failed the first time around.

    2. Berate me as attention seeking and that I wasn't really sick.

    3. Ostracized by my family as the refused to believe anything is wrong.

    4. Gotten the blank stares.

    5. Many old friends drifting away because they don't know how to celebrate without every activity revolving around food, junky food.

    I learned to walk my own path a long time ago when I was nearly killed in a wreck, had TBI (traumatic brain injury) AND found out I had cancer within a few days. Nothing like a near death experience to alter one's world view. The online GF community has been a lifeline. more so than the local CSA group. Now I choose my friends carefully and don't worry about what others think of me. It's their problem if they can't cope with MY DIETARY NEEDS.

    While it may seem lonely, odd, strange to others not to do anything special for holidays, I appreciate NOT dealing with drunken relatives arguing over football and family grudges from 50 years ago. I don't miss the ear-splitting TV on full volume or my cats being traumatized by it all. If I want to eat an entire can of whipped cream on my GF pie/cake/cookies I do it without criticism. If I want to buy myself a Birthday treat (which is today), I do.

    Forge your own path in this brave new world and peace out for Solstice, Hanukka, Christmas, Kwanza, New Year, Losar (Tibetan New Year), Lunar New Year.

  4. Jeniren says:

    What a wonderful post. I have eaten gluten free for nearly 30 years since I made the household gluten free to support my young son and we also eat then and now dairy free. I've found so many lovely foods to eat that don't contain gluten or dairy products but are full of nutrition. I rarely cook gluten free versions of baked foods I just eat fruit and veg, nuts seeds rice and some meat and fish. My family still think I am a little odd if they think of the food I eat. They think I'm just going through a phase that I will grow out of, or just following some silly fad. They never ask why I continue to eat this way after so long and never consider it might be helpful for their health if they ate that way. If I'm asked and start to explain why I eat that way I'm accused of 'going on and on about food". I'm really conscious of not doing that and I feel that one sentence on the subject or an honest straightforward answer is more than they want to hear. Rarely is anyone interested if I suggest that their health could be improved by eating a gluten free and/or dairyfree diet and just going on an elimination diet for a couple of weeks to see if it makes a difference to their health. If I change the comment from "You might find this useful' to 'This is my experience' the eyes glaze over after about two words as they seem to be thinking 'There she is going on about her diet, I hope she stops soon'. This all sounds as though I say far more than I do. I feel I'm in a no win situation. If I talked more about it they may understand more about why I eat this way and may be interested in trying it themselves, but I don't because I feel immediately alienated if I do. If I feel streesed about it I look out the window or at some object or person in the room and think'Well this moment is just fine, and so is this next moment so I'll just take life moment by moment and I will be OK. Glad I'm not still making school lunches though!

  5. Morgan says:

    Hey Heidi, and everyone~

    Do any of you have metal dentalwork in your mouth, by any chance?

    I'm sorry if I've ever posted this thought on here before (don't think so, but..) .. I had severe celiac about a month ago before I had a dental implant removed from my mouth.

    My kids are severe gluten and casein intolerant (and soy), but I've noticed have gotten better since on a GFCF diet and doing homeopathy.

    I believe some (if not a lot) of cases of celiac may be due to this, but I'm not positive.

    I just know I had severe reactions to gluten before, when I had this dental implant in and since it was removed – literally a week after I had it removed, i tested myself and my symptoms were only about 5% of what I used to have.

    My husband, too, got his mercury fillings removed from his mouth (about 8 of them) and previous to having them removed had severe celiac symtoms when ate gluten and since he's had them removed, total turnaround like me.

    I have a theory that kids get exposed to the metals in mom's mouths in utero. (94% of ASD kids have moms w/ metal in their mouths, from what I've read). Have also read a lot about heavy metals in the body causing autoimmune conditions with gluten and casein.

    Anyhow, thank you for humoring me. I was just curious as to whether others have had similar experiences and just wanted to share my story in case it can possibly help anyone else!

    ~Morgan Pocorobba

  6. Katieb says:

    Ostracisim? Heartbreak? Yep–this family has both going on here. There are NO longer family holiday gatherings with food that we are included in because our food is apparently too hard to accommodate in. We are definitely on the outside looking in. A recent birthday dinner with other guests for my MIL to which we were invited to come over after dinner is an example. It hurts and it's humiliating often times being called 'mental', 'hypochondriac', 'food nazi', or better yet not diagnosed' properly so our food issues are discounted anyways. Every friend we had has also drooped us because apparently our food issues trump any friendship we had. Our daughter's boyfriend is blown away at the lack of compassion and effort our local family makes, because he CARES about our daughter and so therefore cooks safely for her –and us–all the time. In fact, he had Thanksgiving with us and helped out by making the pies!! He will be having Christmas dinner with us also, as again no talk of a family get together has come our way. Heartbreak doesn't even begin to describe it, and the mental damage done to our 19 yo and 16 yo is now deeply embedded after 6 years of eating a diet that as literally saved our lives physically – but destroyed them socially. I am definitely not only going to share this wonderful postbwithbthis family, but also am going to print t out to read often! We are in the process of changing thevway we think in order to empower ourselves and this will be a great help!

  7. Kate says:

    Morgan,

    I think you are on to something, I have compared it to our bodies being a barrel and as toxins enter it, such as mercury, pesticides, genetically modified foods, chemicals, etc. It becomes full. At some point the stress barrel overflows and there is illness or flare ups of dis-ease.

    Make sure that the dentist removing the amalgams is doing it correctly to protect you and the dental workers. I had one improperly removed….I inhaled the fumes which are the most dangerous part and I actually swallowed a few particles. Within 6 weeks, my body was covered in eczema and I was in metal toxic overload. When removed correctly, you should have a mouth shield and oxygen to avoid the fumes and particles, which I only found out after the fact when I switched to a biologically friendly dentist. This was 4 years ago.

    Looking back, my severe stomach alien beast problems started then (although I had had symptoms for much longer). It took me 3 years and trusting my intuition to try gluten free that I became healthy. I also discovered a intolerance to dairy, soy, and preservatives. With Heidi's blog info, I got tested for cross reactivity and found issues with tapioca, bananas, avocado, chestnuts and kiwi. I have also eliminated night shade vegetables because of their inflammatory properties.

    My kids are almost 18 and 15 and I thank God daily that I had the intuition to keep them vax free because I'm sure they picked up many toxins in utero and it could have been disastrous for their health. They are actually much healthier than their friends.

    Knowledge is Power! know your source and trust your inner voice. The mainstream media and the huge profits from the standard american diet are so ingrained in today's culture. Those profits go to the large Ag conglomerates, Big Pharma, disease management (not true health care) etc. I think that a majority would benefit from a gluten free dairy free diet, chemical free diet. One of my favorite quotes is: when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. ~Dr Wayne Dyer and it is so true about my diet. I see the foods I no longer eat as poison, I now love cooking and creating healthy tasty meals, and everyone that I have shared my culinary creations with has been surprised that they are "healthy".

    I had no problem cooking a gluten free traditional Thanksgiving dinner for my guests. The only exception was a pie that was contributed to the meal. I didn't eat it but the rest of my family and guests did. i enjoyed a mini pumpkins cake GF DF soy, tapioca, preservative free and it was delish :)

    Enjoy your family traditions during this holiday season and stay true to yourself and your healthy lifestyle. Cyber hugs to all

    Kate <3

  8. Christine B says:

    Your post makes me thankful for my family and in-laws. Both have been very accommodating of my food allergies. I hardly see my family, as they live in Ohio still, but when we are there, they let me plan the meals and given me input as to how to what they are eating and let me choose naturally gf options. My mother-in-law has become pretty good about reading ingredients herself, and while my corn allergy still throws her for a loop sometimes, she'll work hard to find food I can eat – like getting sausage straight from a local butcher for her egg sausage casserole. My limitations and experimentation has actually made them more open to trying new things and understanding the harm in so many preprocessed foods. They don't completely buy my "wheat really isn't good for anyone" idea yet, but they've accepted that it isn't good for me (and that this is a permanent change, not a temporary one.) It will be interesting when my husband does a gluten challenge at the beginning of the year. We generally eat gluten free around here (I always do, but he will often eat wheat crackers, wraps and pasta for meals on his own), but after reading that heart disease has been linked to gluten intolerance and knowing he has heart disease on both sides of his family (as do I on mine), I suggested he test himself and see, especially knowing your husband's story, and he's game.

    I have lately been seeing the food allergies/intolerances as a blessing for my family. We eat much healthier and I know that these lifestyle changes will help break the cycle of autoimmune diseases rampant in both of our family lines. I will sometimes still get frustrated with my corn allergy, or my lack of ability to eat ketchup (tomatoes cause reflux and I haven't found a replacement I like yet) but overall I like the way I feel and the way my body processes food much better now. And knowing I'm giving my kid (in utero) a brighter, healthier future is nice. I do still have problems with friends who think that my allergies can easily be overcome with a recipe or two (and have no understanding of reading ingredients or that one brand may be safe while another isn't.) I'm hoping in time they will come around as well and start to understand that food allergies aren't a curse, even if they seem that way sometimes, that instead the open the door to health for so many people.

  9. Lynn says:

    Thanks for such a thoughtful and true post. We've just gone gluten free due to our son's allergies, and I'm learning quite quickly that creating gluten-free versions of our previous favourites is not the answer – learning a whole new way of cooking and eating is. We need to find exciting new recipes that everyone can and will enjoy, that happen to not contain gluten. It's so good to hear that someone else is on the same path – it's very comforting!

  10. Donna says:

    This is the end of my first year gluten free with celiac disease and I've found to just let the wheat eaters alone. I used to love wheat and the GF bread is different but I need it to be healthy. I do believe that gluten hates me I so stay away. I just pack my food if GF food isn't available. I have a few friends that will go out of their way to go over their menus with me and others I know are not capable so I just take my lunch. I've just learned to take wheat laden store bought food to pot lucks and eat my delicious GF food I have packed. If I call a restaurant and they do not accommodate me I will buy a beverage and eat my packed meal. I call them and get an OK since my companion will be buying a wheat meal. My husband eats GF but still has his wheat stash. He had his own section of the kitchen with his own toaster and cutting board. He often orders GF when eating out which warms my heart. He thinks we are eating much healthier but he likes wheat. I am truly putting socializing first and food last. I can't change the actions of other or their mind sets but I can mine. I do bake GF when I have visitors and I've had good reviews – I love to bake. I have those feelings if deprivation if I don't have food in my purse and there is not a vegetable stick or nut in sight and I have to sip my wine with no crunch but at least I'm invited to the party and one of the tribe. People is what it is all about – my "problem" is not who I am.

  11. I love you.

    I wish i lived close enough to pop in with a gluten free and whatever-else-you-need pie. or cake. your choice.

    xoxo

  12. Alicia says:

    Thank you for this site! I get your Holiday Issues. I myself don't have that issue yet, but I know it has been hard for my SIL as her son has Celiac. She now only lets him eat food she prepares no matter what. We have all accepted that and even when he comes over, if he eats his sandwhich we are careful to put it on paper plates or napkins, not our plates that have had gluten on them. Yesterday I got bad news (not my gluten test results or dairy yet) that my Inflamatory Marker is at 13.4. YIKES. So, this means I am highly allergic to something (probably gluten since family history). But, Dr. wants me to go on the Elimination diet. I am totally scared…what on earth will I eat. I had already started to go GF and planned our Christmas Dinner to be GF, but now this…..I am going to call and meet up with the nutritionist asap!

  13. Joanie H says:

    My heart is overflowing with emotion and tears are spilling down my cheeks…, not only from your words shared, but the stories shared through people's comments. You've struck a chord here. While we rejoice in finding new recipes and give thanks to those who are so creative, for many, there is an underlying deep pain that no tasty recipe can make better….

    Thank you, Heidi, for the beautiful, brave and creative person you are. For sharing a gift with countless people in our gluten-free blog world. For letting others know they are not alone in their experiences. And, for the reminder that we have a great gift in this life ~ HOPE! And may more people utter those 3 powerful words, "Why aren't you?" Abundant blessings.

  14. Such a great post, Heidi. As a Mac lover and a gluten-free food lover, I applaud you! :) We must keep rebooting whenever we crash, and be thankful our systems are hooked up to an excellent network like this wonderful, online, gluten-free community! Merry Christmas to you, "Clark" and your lovely family. ;)

  15. Missy says:

    Thanks for all you do with your web site. I have been gluten free since March, and both of my children (7 and 4) are gluten free as well (along with having to go dairy free, egg free, and soy free). Your recipe for gingerbread house was fantastic, and our gingerbread house turned out great–a few pieces had to be glued together with frosting, but the house held up. Thank you so very much for rescuing our beloved family tradition of making a gingerbread house every Christmas. And it was delicious too. Thanks for sharing your journey. My son put a Christmas card in my stocking, "Thanks for keeping me healthy." It's been like a part time job learning to make delicious recipes that do not have gluten, casein, eggs, or soy, and it's been really hard and I had a lot of flops at first–and I found some recipes on your web site that worked for us. Thanks so much!

  16. bookladyDavina says:

    Wow. Love this post. We found out about my gluten issues this past spring, so this has been our first holiday season GF. It has been a challenge at times. Hubby loves the changes that have happened for me already in the last few months and agrees this is a great change for me, but he doesn't want to give up gluten himself, and my step daughters who are only with us part time are leery of it as well, but I'm slowly working on them. Haven't yet found a bread or rolls they like much yet, but I'm still learning and trying new recipes (spent the first few months with store items or boxed mixes, am now comfy enuf to try scratch again..) Made crackers everyone loved and we stick to naturally gf things as much as possible, which helps a ton! Some of the things I've come up with even hubby thinks are better then the old gluten filled versions we use to make, so there is progress, yay! but it's still a struggle, and I live in an area where things aren't always readily available and options are sometimes limited (Alaska) and eating out is VERY limited. But I am learning and I am working on trying to get the family to learn with me, like it or not! :) We are fortunate enough to live too far from most of our extended family for them to be an issue right now. Have suggested testing to my mom, pretty sure it's her side I get this from, and it might help greatly with her MS, but she didn't like the way things tasted and it was 'too much trouble" but slowly working on her as well, but from a distance, it's hard.

  17. Erin Gaines says:

    Have been GF since being diagnosed at the first of Nov. Have done well, no cheating, cooking GF and eating out GF…but Christmas was hard, tried to eat before I left for gatherings, but never ate enough, so spent the entire night starving…I wasn't upset that I couldn't eat the gluten food, just felt uuughh due to hunger! But overall doing great GF, will have kids tested soon…I can totally deal w/ being GF myself, but kids are a whole other issue….we'll see….

  18. Steph says:

    I'm so sorry that so many of you have families who don't seem to be open to cooking without gluten. My spouse was told to eliminate gluten this summer and he's done very well. Since I'm the primary cook for the family, I refuse to cook two meals or two versions of anything. I look at this as a cooking challenge that I can step up and meet. For his health, we've also had to cut out soy and peanuts. Baking has been a challenge, but I'm learning. We hosted Christmas dinner for our friends and had a successful and wonderfully delicious meal that was safe for everyone to eat. I do pack my husband's lunch for work each day, but we did that before his diagnosis as a way to keep down our expenses. As a hostess, I believe it is my responsibility that my guests are well fed and happy. This means that I MUST take into account their dietary needs in all events.

    For the New Year, may your families recognize that a world of wonderful food is open to them and is safe for you. May they realize that GF cooking is fresh, robust and delicious. May they find a way to incorporate you and your children into any and all events so that you can just enjoy a family meal together. If all that fails, you're invited to my place for Christmas 2012.

  19. kathy says:

    Thank you for the wonderful heartfelt post. I am constantly learning so much on this journey from others.

    Grateful for your site, thank you!

    We are facing our challenge of college. Finding a college that meets academic, financial and food needs is a challenge. Trusting someone else to make safe decisions is also difficult. We needed dr. documentation to start the process. We will have a meeting soon, and walk through the process and hopefully come up with a plan. Several colleges were unresponsive, the one we are working with so far has been wonderful.

    Our young adlut, becomes severely depressed within a day of eating gluten, to the point of suicidal thoughts. We have come along way from understanding how gluten can trigger such strong negative emotions. For us, and our young adult, Gluten causes emotional, behavioral issues, as well as skin issues, sinus, etc. The biggest challenge for myself as a parent, is not being there to monitor changes good or bad. As we could back off the food and try again, to see what was eaten that caused the reaction.

    We are however, blessed to find a staff that is willing and open and knowledegable in regards to food allergies, and intolerances.

    Thank you for sharing and starting discussion.

  20. Dianna says:

    Great post and a very nice metaphor.

    My family has made great strides in the 4 years since I went gluten-free, but it has been a struggle. At least they recognized from the beginning that I had not been in good health, and they accepted that gluten was the cause. It took a long time to get them to understand that minute amounts really do matter. I cannot just pick the croutons out of the salad or scrape the breading off the pork chop. And then there was the year that my mother and grandmother would stubbornly insist that I could eat what they had prepared, but they wouldn't tell me what was in it. At first I pretended to eat it, but disposed of it instead. I finally told them, "Yes, you say I CAN eat it, but unless you tell me what is in it, I WON'T." This was shortly followed by their disbelief when I told them that I couldn't eat their boullion cubes.

    I think Thanksgiving is the worst, because to me, that holiday is mostly (in some cases entirely) about the food. I celebrated two Thanksgivings where the only thing I could eat was turkey, a baked potato, and steamed veggies. Since then, we moved to another state, and Thanksgiving has been wonderful. I love that I can eat every last thing on the table. I also love the fact that this way, no one is going to put giblets in the stuffing.

    To their credit, now both sides of the family check with me over every ingredient when we visit. While I may not be able to eat everything, the major parts of the meal are safe for me. Now my biggest worry is at Christmas, when 20 people eat crumbly homemade bread for 3 days, and I just pray none of the crumbs end up in the buffet line food. I know that there will always be more risk for me when I visit my relatives. It sucks, but I am thankful that cooking for me isn't such a big deal anymore–it's inconvenient, but they don't complain.

    I also found the online community to be a godsend and a lifeline.

    So anyway. . .HANG IN THERE–my family came around, and with luck yours (and society as a whole) eventually will too. And if they don't, the heck with them. Surround yourself with people who treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

    Peace,

    -D

  21. Amanda says:

    My husband has just spent the last 12 months working with a local chef creating gluten free recipes for kids. He is hoping to offer them to schools and sports clubs!

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