Food, it sustains us.
Food, it can even be enjoyable to eat.
Food, shouldn’t be feared.
Food, consumption shouldn’t be a chore.
Sometimes, I’m just sick of food.
Sometimes, I really don’t want to cook.
Sometimes, I hate having to think of what to eat.
Sometimes, I wish I could eat anything, anywhere, prepared by anyone.
I know folks mean well when they offer or prepare food for me.
But how can I explain the risks of cross contamination?
Your cutting board has traces of gluten. Your grill has traces of gluten. Your kitchen sponge and dishtowels have traces of gluten. Your pots and pans may have traces of gluten. Did you remember to wash your hands after you ate that cracker?
Yes, you read the labels. But did you buy the product labeled “gluten free” or just the one that didn’t list any obvious gluten ingredients? Are you sure you know all the ways gluten is hidden in common everyday foods? What? Gluten in tea? salad dressing? ice cream? cheese? sausage? lunch meat? canned vegetables? soup broth? The list is shockingly long.
Did you google the company to verify if the product is produced on a wheat free production line or wheat free facility? I do. Every time I buy a processed food product I check the label, even if it was labelled safe last time. If I can’t find a satisfactory answer, I don’t buy it and I don’t eat it.
How can I explain what gluten does to me? Even the tiniest trace amount can cause me to not feel well. I may need to know where a bathroom is for sudden tummy issues. I may get a migraine that lasts for a couple of days. Afterwards, I may be exhausted for a few days and suffer from brain fog. My joints will hurt. I may feel bloated. The list of symptoms is long.
Please don’t be insulted when I bring my own food.
I’m sorry I have to pick the place if we eat out.
The list of restaurants that claim they could fix me gf is getting very short. I may eat at a place 2 or 3 times, but then the next time I may feel I was “glutenized”. Seems like every place I thought was safe eventually fails. This includes restaurants that have gluten free menu’s. It is one thing to offer gluten free foods. It is totally another thing to understand how to prepare food and keep it gluten free. There are extremely few restaurants that have been trained in gf food prep. It includes a separate prep area, separate pans and utensils and safe food handling techniques.
Please try to understand why I don’t register for lots of events that provide food. I can’t eat the food included and no where have I seen events let you pay a reduced price to opt out of the food offerings. Why should I have to pay the same price and or even more if I need the gf option?
And yes,the food at events looks and smells so heavenly. But, having to ask about ingredients and prep area questions and then to wait for answers and clarification just make me look like a “snobbish jerk”. But unlike a lot of people who “CHOOSE” to eat gluten free because they think this is the latest and greatest fad diet, THIS IS NOT A CHOICE FOR ME. THIS IS SURVIVAL.
When these people make a huge fuss at a restaurant to have a gf meal and then order CAKE for dessert, they hurt Celiacs. Just like when someone uses a fake service dog or try’s to pass their pet off as a service animal, they hurt true users of highly trained service animals. And then it comes down to faith. Can I have faith and trust that the chef and staff “get it” and will do everything possible to make sure the food they serve me is safe.
Please, don’t tell me it is in my head or maybe “you just exercised too much” or “you’re dehydrated”. Or “it can’t really be that bad.” Or “you can’t really be that sensitive to gluten”. I have lived with this disease my whole life and with an understanding of the diagnosis these past 5+ years. I now know, and have been validated by others with the disease, this is not in my head. I’m not crazy. I’m did not make it up all those years I was not feeling well. How do I know? Because now that I eat gluten free, I feel 99% better most of the time. Of over 30 plus diagnosed medical conditions that I had when eating gluten, now eating gluten free, most all of those ailments and conditions don’t occur regularly anymore.
I know when I’ve been “glutenized” or cross contaminated with gluten. Only I can understand how I feel. Please be patient with me while I fret over where my next meal will come from.
Don’t think I can’t read your body language, your eye rolls, tsk’s and sighs. I know I frustrate you and you wish I’d just get over it and deal with a little gluten. Tell that to someone with a nut, shellfish or other food allergy. My symptoms just aren’t as visible as theirs, but they are no less serious.
Give thanks that you don’t live with this disease.
I give thanks for the gift of a second chance at life. I give thanks for the most amazing husband that does his absolute best at helping to keep me healthy and gluten free. I give thanks for the friends who understand I still want to socialize, but I don’t want to eat their food. I give thanks for the friends who still include me in dinner party’s and other food centric social events.