In honor of Celiac Awareness Month I wanted to talk about the challenges of living with someone with celiac. As I don’t think I’m particularly difficult to live with, I hit up my family for the truth. After seven years I consider them fully knowledgeable on all things celiac and gluten-free. They also love me (for some reason) and have willingly adapted their lifestyle to accommodate my health. But I can’t say they don’t have a “gluten party” when I’m not home ;)
I should note that along with a sensitive stomach I’m a picky eater in general. I asked them to separate that from celiac for the purposes of this post.
What was your initial reaction to my celiac diagnosis?
Mom: I was the most sad. I cried because the first thought I had was that you couldn’t just go out for pizza (and eventually beer) with your friends. And then I cried again because you couldn’t have communion.
Dad: I was relieved that the doctors found out what was making you sick. To me, the celiac diagnosis meant you would feel better, and that was good.
Olivia (17): I was 10 years old so I didn’t understand how serious it was but I could understand that celiac meant no more Life cereal or Eggo waffles. So that was sad to me at the time.
How did the diagnosis effect you?
Mom: I threw away everything in our pantry and refrigerator, even things that were possibly safe. I just wanted to start fresh. I had to adjust my cooking and it was kind of eye-opening. It made me look at what I was eating (and feeding the family) and I realized that “oh I do feel better when I’m not eating three slices of pizza three times a week.”
Dad: Being in the hospitality industry the people I work with didn’t think celiac was a big deal at the time. But I immediately thought of cross-contamination and set up protocols to prevent that. No one understood celiac but your diagnosis made me understand it a lot better and work to make sure everyone knew about it.
What’s the most annoying thing about living with someone with celiac?
Olivia: Uh, where do I begin? Just kidding…it used to be “all about Emily” and as a 10-year-old I didn’t like that. It’s annoying to always clean up the crumbs and Lysol immediately, I like to bake.
What’s the most challenging thing about living with someone with celiac?
Olivia: Having to pick a restaurant based on if you can eat there or not.
We’ve all tried new foods in the past seven years. What foods do you now like that you didn’t before?
Mom: Quinoa, almond milk, spaghetti squash. We also eat a lot more fish now.
Dad: Spaghetti squash. I still hate quinoa.
Olivia: Sushi. For the first year or so you wanted to go to a sushi restaurant every week and I hated it. But now it’s my favorite food.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Dad: There are so many gluten-free products and options, but it still is a little difficult eating at restaurants. Those that don’t have gluten-free menus.
Olivia: A little funny story…Emily, if you didn’t know, is addicted to watermelon and a few years ago at dinner she wouldn’t share a piece. She had a huge bowl and wouldn’t share. So I took my piece of pizza and placed it on top of the watermelon so she couldn’t eat it anymore. I don’t think we spoke for the rest of the night.
Emily: I don’t think we did either. But that is a good tactic to get my attention…and annoy the hell out of me ;)