This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc. Subscribe to FREE Celiac.com email alerts What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease SymptomsWhat testing is available for celiac disease? - list blood tests, endo with biopsy, genetic test and enterolab (not diagnostic) Celiac Disease ScreeningInterpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test ResultsCan I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful?The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-FreeIs celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic TestingIs there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and DisordersIs there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients)Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients)Gluten-Free Alcoholic BeveragesDistilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free?Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free DietFree recipes: Gluten-Free RecipesWhere can I buy gluten-free stuff? Support this site by shopping at The Celiac.com Store.For Additional Information: Subscribe to: Journal of Gluten Sensitivity
I'll add my voice to the masses: cook Gluten-Free, and don't tell anyone. It'll be a healthier meal, and probably better tasting too! If someone voices an objection after the fact, it sounds like *they* just volunteered to cook next year (and then you get to provide your dietary requirements for the menu... they wouldn't make a vegetarian eat meat would they?)
And remember, stuffing doesn't HAVE to be made with bread. I usually make a wild rice stuffing that brings people back for seconds, thirds, etc. Far more healthy than white bread too.
The key to coping with this diet is to NEVER be apologetic about it and never make concessions. It's a requirement for your survival, and you sure as hell didn't ask for it, any more than you asked for your eye color.
My wife is gluten-free to support my Celiac diet, and she hasn't looked back! I started her off by just cooking what I normally do; she decided that gluten-free pasta was tastier than wheat pasta, and over the years has come to realize that a gluten-free diet really is superior to a "standard" diet in a lot of ways. She has more energy than she ever did before, and is generally healthier and happier. We suspect that she might actually be a latent Celiac herself, as she has become Gluten Sensitive as a result of being off gluten for severak years. We don't have the urge to diagnose her, as we're already both gluten-free for life.
It's easy to have a gluten-free romantic meal, as others have pointed out. A nice steak, asparagus, baked potato, and you're set! Start off with a Caesar salad with gluten-free dressing (Newman's own and Trader Joe's are great) Top it off with a good wine, and who's going to even notice that your entire dinner is gluten-free? (For an added treat, I like putting McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning on the steak as a rub. gluten-free and SOOOOO good...) Dessert: Ener-G gluten-free pound cake, heated for 45 seconds, with a scoop of Breyer's vanilla ice cream on top. Decadent!
I have found that sitting down and explaining the condition, along with all of the hard science behind it, tends to solve the issue. Fortunately for me, my Dx 28 years ago was the result of my mother's tenacity regarding my condition; I wasn't growing, and none of the doctors could figure it out, until I underwent a new biopsy procedure at UCSF medical center. Once diagnosed, my mom just laid down the law and that was that.
Gently reminding family members that Celiac is genetic, and that in the case of parents, grandparents, etc., it was THEIR combination of genetics that landed you in your current situation, just like their blue eyes are your blue eyes, makes a world of difference. Siblings should be reminded that if one kid has the condition, it is fairly likely that they all will develop the condition in their lifetime.
I also try to avoid calling myself "sick." Personally, I haven't really been "sick" because of Celiac in more than a decade, other than the very occasional accidental glutening, because I'm constantly vigilant and somewhat pushy at times, when it comes to restaurants, etc. When I explain my condition, I tell people that I have a genetically-linked autoimmune condition that renders the protein in wheat, gluten, toxic to my body. I didn't choose my diet, any more than I chose to have blue eyes. If they make light of it, or tell me that "just a little" gluten won't hurt, I ask them whether or not "just a little" cyanide won't hurt them. Tends to shut down the scoffing pretty rapidly. The key is, it's not an allergy, or some fad diet, or some kind of disorder; gluten is poisonous to me. Actually, it's poisonous to everyone, I'm just more sensitive to it due to my autoimmunological "tuning." Rather than looking for pity, I turn my condition into an empowering one. I'm fit, I'm healthy, and I have a great diet that is devoid of all of the horrible processed ingredients of which the typical American diet consists. I eat whatever I want, provided it's gluten-free: cookies, bread, pasta, cereal, waffles, stir-fry. I grill steaks at least once a week, along with loaded baked potatoes, and my cholesterol/HDL/LDL balances are incredible.
I have actually managed to turn many people on to a gluten-free diet, after they hear my full-out lecture. And without fail, every single one of those people have told me that it was the best decision they have ever made regarding their general health.
My wife and I rely on a nice, natural sleep aid when we get insomnia: Rescue Remedy. It's flower essences, distilled into brandy alcohol. Totally gluten-free. A couple of drops under the tongue, and I'm off to sleepy-land in about 30 minutes. It doesn't tranquilize you; but it tends to de-stress you and lets you relax naturally. Works great for hyper doggies too!
It is also far easier if your domestic partner (if you have one,) joins you in your diet. And I'm talking 100% all the way. When I started dating my wife, she started in on my gluten-free diet, simply because I don't cook for 2 different diets. So when she ate over, she got rice pasta (which she loved,) whole vegetables, meats seasoned with herbs, etc. Now, 6 years in, we suspect that she is an undiagnosed Celiac herself, or at least Gluten Intolerant, because if she accidentally strays, she has the same symptoms as I do. Considering the ever-increasing evidence that Gluten is just plain toxic, and nobody should really consume it, we both have concluded that she's better off now than before. She doesn't feel any need to get an "official" diagnosis, she just sticks to the diet now, and all is good with the world.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to deal with this kind of thing. You'd expect family to be a little more understanding; hitting on the genetic side is always a good route with family. "Gee Dad, you keep teasing me about this, but YOU are 1/2 of the reason I have to live this way. By the way, have you been tested for this? You might be poisoning yourself daily and not know it!"
Friends and coworkers are another matter entirely. Personally, I usually just lay it out there: I have a genetically-linked autoimmune condition that renders the protein in wheat, Gluten, toxic to me. I don't underscore it as a disease, an allergy, disorder, or any other kind of shortcoming. (And it's not, really; there are studies that suggest that the immune system of a Celiac is more responsive than a "normal" one. As long as you don't waste your energy and resources producing anti-Gliadin antibodies, you will tend to recover from illness much more rapidly; at least I have noticed this phenomenon in myself.) I think the trick is to underscore that the diet is not a personal choice, any more than I chose to have blue eyes. Usually, people blink at me for a second, process it, and then say, "Oh, okay. Where would you prefer to grab lunch today?" I always have a list of 4 or 5 safe places in the area that I will suggest.
As for people who suggest that you go off your diet; underscoring the TOXIC nature of gluten usually heads that right off. You can always ask your friend whether they would take a week off work, then consume a box of rat poison as a treat?
It does get easier with time. I was diagnosed 28 years ago; I have had enough plain rice cakes over my childhood years to fill a container ship! We've come a long way in the last couple of decades.
The trick is to find some gluten-free comfort foods and indulge yourself from time to time. My favorite store of all time is Trader Joe's. I have a couple where I live; if you have one within 30 minutes of you, it's worth the trip. Their prices are so much better than specialty health food stores, and even standard grocery stores, it's ridiculous. Gorilla Munch sells for about $2.95/box there. They also have AWESOME rice spaghetti and some incredible sauces, all gluten-free and very inexpensive. Throw some ground turkey in their marinara sauce, grab some spinach and their AWESOME caesar dressing, and you have a feast! Don't forget their Quatro Fromaggio chese mix for topping the salad and spaghetti!
They also have a lot of frozen ready-to heat foods (their frozen chicken tamales are to die for!) that are gluten-free, including frozen gluten-free waffles (regular and banana.) You owe it to yourself to make a trip. They have several stores in MD; not sure whether there are any in your specific area though.
I will say, the biggest mistake you can make is dropping off the diet, for a "binge." I read a lot of posts from people new to the diet, and their willingness to "cheat" every now and then, and it blows my mind that people would willingly do this to themselves. Under no circumstances, allow yourself to cheat! Find a gluten-free version of your special craving, and you won't be tempted. Remember that as your gut heals, reactions to gluten will become more and more violent, as your absorptive surface area increases.
My favorite treat: Trader Joe's Chili (great, and gluten-free,) a 1/4 pound uncured Fearless hot dog, and some grated cheddar on top. Wash it all down with some Blackthorn hard cider (okay, the cider is a bit pricey, but I got a taste of it during a trip to the UK a few years ago.)
Yeah, the BF is a jerk and doesn't get it. Does he tell people with broken legs to just "walk it off" too?
With regard to the waiter, you should have demanded to see the manager. These days, it seems that "the customer is always right" is dying out, but there is never any need to deal with an abusive waiter, and you should NEVER have to pay for food that you can't eat. A food allergy/intolerance is completely legitimate, and they need to accomodate us. What would they do with someone who was allergic to peanuts?
Welcome to the boards! You'll find a TON of great information here.
As for explaining/dealing with our condition, the key is to NEVER be embarassed about it, and don't apologize for it. You couldn't control inheriting this condition, any more than you could control your eye color. Sometimes, it's easier to explain the condition as a food allergy; people DIE from peanut allergies these days, and other people bend over backwards to accomodate them.
At a work function, insist (albeit very nicely) that if you're going to be included in a meal, that they need to accomodate your diet. It's a little more of a hassle, but no more so than someone with any other food allergies. The population in general needs to get educated on our condition; it's not going away, and for every 10 people we educate, you'll usually get one who becomes a champion for the cause (maybe they have a relative who's been mysteriously ill for a long time... sometimes our efforts can really help someone who has been unknowingly killing themselves.)
As for family; that's always the toughest. I would suspect that your mother might be feeling guilty regarding your condition; after all, she's the one you inherited it from. I would suggest you point her to this Friends and Loved Ones section, and let her educate herself. How were you diagnosed? Sometimes, people need the concrete evidence in front of them; physiological proof like a biopsy result or blood test might be enough to get through her mental block. She needs to realize that you don't blame her for something she couldn't control either, but she needs to know that she MUST support you in this 100%. Whether she likes it or not, you have a genuine, proven medical condition that must be treated. If she's going to refuse to accomodate you, you need to stop eating at her home. Period.
I would say the biggest thing you need to address is your apologetic attitude regarding the whole thing; there's nothing to be ashamed or apologetic about. And you're not *inflicting* gluten-free food on anyone. gluten-free food these days is just as good or better than non-gluten-free food. It's been proven that gluten-free is in general, a better way to live. My wife, who is not a Celiac, eats gluten-free with me exclusively, except when she wants some sourdough bread from a restaurant. If I have friends over, they get gluten-free food. I've never had one single complaint, and more often than not, praise for the food. I've served gluten-free pasta dishes that has prompted people to switch their own diets over in some areas. We had a gluten-free wedding cake that our guests RAVED about at our wedding last year, and the entire catered meal was also gluten-free. It's *your* life. Live it the way *you* want.
Personally, my wife and I LOVE the Quinoa pastas. Nice and nutty, very flavorful. You just have to make sure not to overcook them. They go from al dente to al soggy in about 30 seconds. Same with the Pastariso stuff (I don't like the angel hair though, it doesn't cook right.)
I also recently found a great gluten-free rice spaghetti at Trader Joe's, at about 1/2 the cost of any of the other rice pastas out there. Again, overcooking is the caution here.
I've always been a fan of the Food For Life gluten-free breads. A little dense, but GREAT when you're making a toasted sandwich.
I think my top bugaboos are:
Ener-G white rice bread (although, I love just about everything else; biscotti cookies, doughnuts and doughnut holes, chocolate chip cookies, pretzels, pizza shells. Pricey though.)
Most of the gluten-free macaroni just don't seem to do the cheese sauce right. The last time we did it, I bought a box of Kraft, threw the noodles out, and used the sauce on some Quinoa elbows. Mmmmmm. Just like I remember it from childhood.
That's about all I can think of right now. Most of my experimentation was years ago. Now I have a pretty good shopping list.
You won't feel a thing. When I did the procedure 25 years ago, I was fully conscious, and the only unpleasant part was getting sick as the tube went down. The biopsy itself is painless, as there are no nerve endings in the lining of the intestine.
Whenever I am dealing with things like this, I always have a supply of gluten-free cookies and treats handy in my desk. When they start busting out snack cakes, I grab an EnviroKidz cereal bar! If it's cake, then I'll grab an Ener-G Gluten Free brownie! (Which are healthier and better tasting than most of the swill others jam in their faces. )
If you're ever planning a trip to Disneyland, I'm happy to report that they are VERY aware of celiac disease and its ramifications.
In-park eating can be problematic, since it's all pre-made food, but the restaurants in the hotels are extremely accomodating, even to the point of making gluten-free waffles and pancakes (on special, non-contaminated grills) for Character Breakfasts in the Disneyland Hotel. All you have to do is call ahead!
We live near the park, and a pair of our favorite restaurants are in the hotels; The Napa Rose in the Grand Californian, and Hook's Pointe in the D-land Hotel. We recently went to the Napa Rose, and I prepared my long-winded speech for the waiter. (We knew about the Gluten-awareness, as my wife is a tour guide, but you still have to go through the spiel with the waiter if you haven't called ahead, and this was short notice.) He surprised us by mentioning that he "understood completely, and that he also was one of the head chefs at the restaurant, and that he would work directly with the head chef of the night with my meal." We both ordered the "Wine dinner;" 4 courses complete with wine flights to go along with the dish. Each course had questionable ingredients, and every time a course came out, the waiter explained the course, and the substitutions that had gone into my dish. Best dinner out I have ever had!
As a humorous aside, my wife came home from work the other day, after helping someone in the phone room with a guest who had called about her daughter having Celiac, and wanted a special-assistance pass for the lines in the park . Needless to say, the guest was a bit deflated, as she was counting on ignorance of the condition to get some special treatment. I mean, come on. Even *I* wait in the lines, and I used to work there, and my wife does now!