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Dealing With Social Awkwardness
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Has anyone here mastered the social awkwardness of saying no to gluten? Let me expand. It seems that there have been social invitations my husband and I have been invited to by people who we're getting to know (we moved across the country this February), and there's this sort of offense taken if we decline because of my celiacs. Or there was this one time someone made me brownies with oats - specifically for me. I strained a smile and felt I had no option but to accept and eat (okay, it was really good - but I'm always paranoid with oats, so I try to avoid them). Even if someone smiles and says, "Don't worry, my sister has something with gluten, and I can prepare for it." I'm still left with a little bit of discomfort in the back of my mind, knowing that "something with gluten" could mean full blown celiacs, or just a bit of an intolerance if they over do it.

Or! After church every Sunday, we do a fellowship meal, and often, it's laden with gluten. If it's not, I'm not sure how much I can rely on others to cater for those needs. It just seems we've been suppressed to forever alone status because of my celiacs, and I know my husband twitches a bit at it, though he'd never say or blame me for my condition.

 

How have you mastered the art of declining social invitations? Can anyone relate? Or am I really missing the obvious here? (Like packing myself lunch for Sundays etc).

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I think it isn't good to decline social invitations because of a food issue.  Unless they are throwing flour around the house, there is no reason you can't go and enjoy the company.  Either buy some frozen dinners or pack yourself something, and when you are accepting an invitation, let the hose know you have special food needs and ask if it is okay to use their microwave to heat up your food.  You can also eat before you go and not have to bother with that.  If someone insists on feeding you food that you shouldn't be eating, NEVER give in to that.  Just politely say, "I appreciate the effort you went through to try to feed me, but to be safe I am going to have to decline."
 
For the meal after church on Sundays, if you are not able to sit through it and eat when you get home, pack yourself a lunch.  It is important to empower yourself with the tools you will need to not be socially isolated because of your Celiac disease.  If the church thing is a potluck, you can bring something in a crockpot, and tape over it with masking tape saying DO NOT TOUCH, if you trust people to leave it alone.  Then have at it first, and once you have safely gotten your share out of it, others can get some.  If there is going to be a long standing thing and there is a person who you can trust and teach the ways of safely serving gluten-free food, you can spend some time with them and, only if you feel comfortable, entrust them with your food preparation.  
 
But overall, NOTHING says you have to eat their food, and cannot come if you don't.  Bring some gluten-free snacks to share at a casual sioree, or just have a drink and steal the first clean scoop of ice cream from the unopened container at a dinner party.  But don't sit at home thinking you cannot enjoy life because of Celiac disease.
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I know how you feel, I have caught myself over the past few months considering avoiding social events around food and I'm trying to pull myself up on it. Laura is right, nobody should ever make you eat food you aren't happy with, but if they are people you might see regularly you might be able to teach them and cook with them - it varies. I have a few people I'm happy to do this with but I've only been doing it since I've become more confident in my own abilities to avoid CC.

 

Otherwise, I pack my own stuff and if I can I try to match it to whatever the host is making. If I take stuff to share then yes I grab my own (large) portions first to make sure I don't feel left out. Also - I once went to a cake sale my god-daughter held for a charity I run, which was lovely of her. I made one gluten-free cake expecting to take most of it home but in the end it made the day of an elderly lady who hadn't been able to eat anything at a church cake sale for years. Powering on through the awkward moments was made worth it for that :) 

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The only time I avoid social gatherings because of food is when I don't have the time to prepare something to eat ahead of time, for instance, if I don't get enough notice.

Otherwise, I have to be honest with myself and recognize that I choose not to go simply because I don't want to, and the food issues are just an excuse. Sometimes that is a good thing - not wasting the energy and money on activities that leave me feeling as if I just wasted an evening. Sometimes it is a sign that I'm just not all that comfortable with some types of social situations for a variety of reasons.

I personally prefer meeting up with smaller groups or individuals much more than larger groups, and would prefer to do an activity rather than just sit around and eat. And I think my least favorite is when the only thing on the agenda is drinking alcohol. Perhaps you and your husband can find some middle ground by figuring out what factors other than food might make you more or less interested in attending, or occasionally have people come to you where you can control the menu.

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But overall, NOTHING says you have to eat their food, and cannot come if you don't. Bring some gluten-free snacks to share at a casual sioree, or just have a drink and steal the first clean scoop of ice cream from the unopened container at a dinner party. But don't sit at home thinking you cannot enjoy life because of Celiac disease.

I don't really have the dinner party issue. Normally when my friends want to get together and eat, it's restaurant time, or a cookout (and with my friends, they know I'm gonna want my food straight from the grill). As for church, we haven't had a meal since I got diagnosed, but I plan to do like I've always done, set up the food line and help keep it moving (remove empty pans, replace utensils that get dropped, ect---with gloves on). Except I plan to grab my plate first instead of at the end. But by all means, don't let celiac run your life!
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I go to church potlucks and bring my own food. Yesterday, I brought my own food and in addition, snagged a few pickles from the potluck line to throw on my gluten free burger before anybody else had a chance to CC them. Everybody there is pretty much used to me bringing my own food by now.

 

I came up with a new catch phrase to use to explain why I don't often eat stuff prepared by others. "You know, life is too short to spend time interrogating my friends over their ingredients or preparation methods and worrying about feeling ill the next day. I'd rather bring my own food so that I can relax and enjoy spending time with my friends without worries."

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I just bring my own food everywhere and say, with a huge smile, "Thanks so much for thinking about me... you are too kind...  but if I don't prepare it, I can't eat it." It's as simple as that.

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I go to church potlucks and bring my own food. Yesterday, I brought my own food and in addition, snagged a few pickles from the potluck line to throw on my gluten free burger before anybody else had a chance to CC them. Everybody there is pretty much used to me bringing my own food by now.

 

I came up with a new catch phrase to use to explain why I don't often eat stuff prepared by others. "You know, life is too short to spend time interrogating my friends over their ingredients or preparation methods and worrying about feeling ill the next day. I'd rather bring my own food so that I can relax and enjoy spending time with my friends without worries."

 

 

I just bring my own food everywhere and say, with a huge smile, "Thanks so much for thinking about me... you are too kind...  but if I don't prepare it, I can't eat it." It's as simple as that.

 

Both of your quotes are awesome :)  Hopefully they will help some of our new people when they need the right thing to say!

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