I’ve been a “Celiac” for almost 18 months know and while it seems that I’ve gotten a pretty good hang of the whole gluten-free scene, this week has not been a good celiac week. Its like I’ve reverted back 2 years. Ok – I take that back. I haven’t reverted back. I am still doing all I know to do to avoid gluten but instead it seems that gluten has sought me out like a hawk to find ways to ruin this week. In this joyous spirit, I have come up with this lovely post on 5 reasons why Celiac sucks (I know this is supposed to be a “find joy in all things” type blog but I’m just going to be real with you tonight).
1- No one wants to have you over for dinner. Its scary for someone to try to prepare a meal for you when they have the impression they can have you in the floor sick especially when that impression can be very much a reality. Some Celiac patients can tolerate a certain level of gluten and can “cheat” every once in awhile by stealing a bite of a breadstick or some other gluten-filled product. Others can get very sick with a tiny amount of contamination (I fall in the latter group). So I understand that I can be very daunting to try to entertain a gluten-free guest, especially if you are not gluten-free yourself. After my surgery, we told families that wanted to prepare meals just to prepare for my husband and daughter as they wanted to help but didn’t quite know how. I totally get it. It just still sucks.
2- People don’t necessarily like to go out to eat with you either. There are definitely restaurants on the “do not eat” list if you have Celiac disease. Some restaurants are really great about trying to cater to individuals with food allergies and provide gluten-free and other allergy-free menus. Other places though would rather not have the responsibility of stating that an item is gluten-free when there is always the chance of cross-contamination so they refuse to verify either way. A group was looking at going to a pretty well-known place this weekend but I had to say no because I think I would have inhaled gluten just being in the place (ok – I am totally exaggerating but you get the point). No fun having to be a party-pooper.
3- Having to check labels on EVERYTHING. I read the hairspray bottle before buying to be sure it doesn’t have wheat protien. I avoid Aveeno products because of oats. I scan and rescan cereal boxes. Even if I have eaten it before, I still have to recheck as products can change their ingredients at any time. Many times I cannot buy store-brand products. For example, Cocoa Pebbles are gluten-free. The store-brand version are not. There are certain foods, like my beloved candy corn, that are gluten-free themselves but are often processed on the same equipment as gluten-filled products so it takes the off the safe list. It would be nice to be able to grab something off the shelf.
4- Contamination effects ususally hit at the most inconvienent moments. Nothing is more embarrassing than eating lunch with your supervisor for your birthday and having to excuse yourself mid-sentence. Enough details there. End of story. Totally blows.
5- Holidays. Yes there are gluten-free recipes out there but let’s just face it – many of them aren’t that good. I went through three different gluten-free sugar cookies recipes before giving up. One set turned into bricks. Another fell apart if you breathed on them. I want a yummy sugar cookie darnit! Oh and holiday pies. And cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. And Krispy Kreme donuts. I realize that Krispy Kreme donuts have nothing to do with the holidays but I had to slide them in there somewhere.
If you have Celiac, what are things that you find the most annoying? Or if you personally don’t have celiac or another food allergy but have a friend or loved one that does, what do you find challenging about finding ways around it?