Definitely stand up for your health needs. I can't imagine eating gluten to keep others happy - I end up with nausea, loose stools, fever, and exhaustion for days after eating gluten. Yuck!
Fortunately, my immediate family is all GF. My husband discovered after I had to go GF that all his gut issues disappeared when he ate GF as well. We also had our daughter give up gluten and dairy this spring, when her asthma was off the charts, and she has had an amazing improvement. Tried to re-introduce the dairy, and things got worse, so she's happy to stick with GF/dairy free. She was treated for four years at National Jewish Medical Center in Denver (the national experts in allergy/asthma) and they never tested for Celiac or talked about gluten as a possible issue. I'm thrilled that we found this out on our own and can help her get healthier.
As for extended family, some are very supportive. Some are awful. My dad and his wife were educated about gluten by a doctor who told my dad's wife that she has to stay away from it (she gets congested within minutes of eating it). However, she found it too "hard" to stick with, and will now say, "You can have peanuts, right? There's no gluten in peanuts? How about apples? Can you eat those?" It's just a head game. Their response after 3 years of knowing I (and now my whole family) need to eat GF is to do NO cooking or grocery shopping when we visit. My husband, daughter, and I have to do all the shopping and all the cooking. It's freeing in a way, but also feels like punishment. Like I said, head games. It's already very expensive to visit them (plane tickets are always over $400 per person) so the end result is we won't be able to visit as often because I can't afford the plane tickets and food for five for a week.
I like the idea to bringing your own food if you can, whether mixes, prepared foods, or staples like nuts/dried fruit, salads and things like that. When you come prepared you don't need to rely on others. It's so important to protect your health. Celiac isn't just about the awful visible symptoms - it does long-term damage internally. I was diagnosed with osteopenia in my 30s (10 years before I was diagnosed with Celiac), and it also ups the odds of cancer.
Keep in mind that when you eat your healthy GF foods you are also teaching your family members what is healthy. It's a teaching opportunity. Since Celiac runs in families you may be planting a seed for them to get checked down the road, and pave the way for them to adopt a more health-supporting diet. I like to focus on GF staples when I am with non-GF family/friends for this reason. For example, everyone recognizes a meal of grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and green salad as healthy and delicious. Eggs and fruit for breakfast are another example. When you eat "normal" foods that happen to be GF you help them see that GF isn't difficult.
Edited by: HIKELUV at: 8/4/2011 (11:58)
Winners do daily what others do occasionally (Pete Thomas).
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