BEING GLUTEN FREE AIN'T EZ.
It's at certain times of the year that my anxiety around having celiac disease flairs up. It is usually around all holidays. A bit of panic arises in me when I receive an invite to a birthday party, or a dinner party, too. It is hard to always maneuver through food situations when you can't eat what everyone else is eating.
I'm a tough celiac chick. I've managed my way through several food situations, including getting glutened at restaurants that have assured me an understanding of gluten free food prep.
Here are a few uncomfortable situations that I have found myself in just in the past year:
1. A host of a dinner party assured me the crackers in the bowl were gluten free. I didn't want her to think I didn't trust her, but I DIDN'T TRUST HER. I asked to see the box they came in, only to see they were the "Made with Brown Rice" Triscuits that, right on the label, stated "CONTAINS WHEAT."
2. The same host, at a different party, made a batch of "gluten free" pasta salad, which I found out contained a brand of non-gluten free bacon.
3. A woman i had never met before sitting across from me at a dinner party called me out in front of a large table of people on my "so-called Celiac Disease," saying if it really existed then how come no one had ever head of it before recently? She also continued on to say it was a load of sh*t diagnosis that doctors just made up and that she didn't believe for one second that someone couldn't eat wheat.
4. Out with my date and his family at a fancy dinner establishment that advertises their gluten-free menu and safe food prep practices, and after advising the host, waitress AND the manager on duty of my medically necessary gluten free diet, I found a piece of regular spiral pasta in my steamed broccoli. (This restaurant doesn't offer gluten free pasta). When the manager came to our table to discuss the issue, the manager explained that the same strainer was used to strain my broccoli that they use for their gluten-filled pasta. Not only did the manager refuse to take the meal off the bill (he offered me a free dessert), but my date's father DEFENDED the manager out loud, agreeing with him that it was "no big deal," when the manager and I were talking. (This was at BONFIRE restaurant in Eagan, MN for all the locals who are wondering).
5. An acquaintance of mine, who eats gluten free occasionally by choice, surprised me with a flourless gluten free chocolate cake. Nervous, I went over every ingredient in the recipe with her to make sure it was truly gluten free. Suspicious by the white flour-looking substance around the side, she advised me she used the nonstick spray, Pam with Flour, to spray the pan. Luckily, I caught it before eating it.
6. I took a friend out for her birthday, but told her that I had to pick the restaurant. I ALWAYS HAVE TO PICK THE RESTAURANT.
These are just a few examples of why it is so difficult to have celiac disease. Celiac disease depends on the details- what spray oil was used, were the pans/cutting boards/spatulas/colander cross-contaminated? Have I sufficiently grilled the restaurant manager on their food prep practices and ingredients? It is difficult because well-intentioned people will inadvertently gluten you. Restaurants that advertise gluten free menus will gluten you. It makes for some awkward social situations, especially when you are not among close family and friends who understand.
Of the three autoimmune diseases I have- type 1 diabetes, grave's disease, and celiac disease, it is the one that gets taken the LEAST seriously by others.
So to my other celiac disease peeps out there, here is a big virtual hug before the upcoming holiday meals. May you stay safe and healthy!