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Living With A Celiac Spouse: How We Cope


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#1 MonKol

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 06:29 PM

First, we are new to the forum and thanks to everyone here posting because lots of mysteries have been solved. I wanted to share our process with anyone here who is the spouse/partner of a person with Celiacs. So, in short "this is how we roll" :)
Ill give you are really quick history but thats just it. Its not to make anyone who has Celiacs jealous or anything. Me (husband) does not have Celiacs. Before my wife was diagnosed, she dated, fell in love and married me who pretty much hates to eat. Its not that i hate eating the act of it. Its that I can literally eat the same thing every day and not care at all. In fact I used to eat a bacon cheeseburger every single day no matter if it was at a 5 star restaurant or a diner. LOL. I used to say I had the palate of a 6 year old. id be fine on chickie fingers and fries. She, was more or less the same. We are not "foodies" nor have we ever been food motivated. One thing we had in common was the perplexity of our friends and family speaking of foods like they were oxygen, comparing dining guides, and living for The____at Nobu or whatever. In fact we lived in NYC for years and neither of us had or cared to own a Zagats guide!! To most people that is not only heresy but strange!!
So flash forward to the typical self diagnosis. Yup, of course no doctor could diagnose her problem. They considered options...and cut HER SPLEEN OUT!! But, never connected the dots. Anyway we figure out by basic scientific trial and error with some help trolling here that she definitely had Celiacs.
Now if you DO NOT HAVE CELIACS READ CAREFULLY. From my perspective, a person who can eat whatever they want (in theory) When I saw my wife SUFFERING with every mysterious symptom you can imagine I made the OBVIOUS decision. NO GLUTEN FOR ME. Yeah, that's right. Why? Because I am not a FU*&ING BABY who needs to make her condition worse, and life more complicated by eating "my own food." What's more is that Celiacs people are alienated everywhere, and to be further alienated at HOME is insanity! Really, reading some of the threads about people who have lost relationships, jobs, friends, etc because of a Medical Condition makes me very sad. I would be very hurt, angry and sad if i discovered i made my wife ill for days or weeks because of a cross contamination or a kiss after eating some buttered rolls with beer battered bread crumbs fried in Wine sauce!! Seriously folks, I know I have the advantage because I am not a "foodie" but I honestly believe if your partner/spouse doesn't go Gluten Free for safety, health, comaradarie, and efficiency sake you really need to consider what "love" is. I wont rant but has it come to, "honey I love you, but not as much as Pasta, fresh hot bread, and mac and cheese" that is shallow.
I know there is no food on the planet that tastes so good I am willing to have my wife physically and mentally ill for a week afterwards!!
We decided NOT to struggle with it. Once we realized she had Celiacs it was POW! A switch went down and we cut out the danger foods and we literally deny they exist because it isnt worth the pain the suffering.
Some of our own ideas: We use/carry plastic forks spoons etc when we are at home and away. We use paper plates, and we RARELY IF EVER go out to eat. Its just not worth the hassle. Think about it. We cant enjoy a meal when we are stressing over cross contamination, lack of knowledge by staff, and the worst: waiters that will say anything rather than admit they dont know!! Its just our perspective and we realize this isnt feasible for everyone.
We have notices that when we get "crazy" with eating, like try something that is outside of the tested stuff we start to have weird reactions and have to start analyzing ingredients and we drive ourselves nuts. So we try to stick to the same things we know work
Finally the best part is I have benefitted MASSIVELY by going gluten free!! What started as an act in solidarity and love resulted in my chronic migraines being reduced to record low levels. I have more energy than ever and throughout the day my blood sugar seems so much more stable without carbs! I can't believe how GREAT it is to be without the WHEAT!!! ITs crap! I used to feel sleepy after big italian meals and pizza etc, since Gluten Free not at ALL!! I sleep better, feel more focused and emotionally HAPPY!! Go figure? We are starting to think I had some type of sensitivity as well?
Who knows?
Anyway we just wanted to share our opinion on this and really believe that one person can't really have celiacs. Its such a sinister disease that it has to be controlled as a unit.
Imagine if someone in the house was deathly allergic to peanuts and the other person had a peanut addiction? Or if one person had a rare sunlight disorder and their spouse insisted on living in Barbados? Lets get real!
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#2 LDJofDenver

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 11:06 AM

You are wonderful!

I think quite a few families with celiac children end up going totally gluten free in the home, but I don't think that many do so when it's just a husband and wife (or two people in the home).

We didn't go totally gluten-free, but my husband isn't really much of a bread eater, nor much of a snacker. It was easy, last August, when I put the other toaster in the basement and replaced it with my new gluten-free one -- I don't know when in five years I've ever seen him make a piece of toast. He does eat sandwiches for his lunch downtown, but just takes the whole loaf of bread, condiments, lunch meat, to work on Monday and keeps in the workplace refrigerator.

We do have his and hers pasta -- will make the spaghetti sauce and sausage (all gluten-free, of course), then have two pots of boiling water and two colanders -- one for his noodles, one for mine. That's pretty easy to control. He doesn't much care about munchies, and is pretty hooked on whatever rice-based salty crunchy things I have around -- or he's always careful to get the "right" tortilla chips or potato chips, etc.

It is a challenge, and it's definitely not well understood (I've had staff in restaurants rolling their eyes when I start asking ingredients questions). I still have a friend (albeit, not a really close one) who thinks it's just the latest fad diet, like low-carb/Atkins was a couple years back. Doesn't get it that it is a debilitating medical condition. Fortunately for me, my family members get it and keep separate toaster and pans marked "gluten free" and stashed away for when I come to visit.

Anyway, three cheers for you!
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Diagnosed 8-8-08 (I think I'll remember that date!)
Positive blood panel
Endoscopy a little later on confirmed, via Small Intestine Biopsy
Adult son diagnosed Celiac in his late 20s
Suspect my Mother undiagnosed Celiac

#3 summerteeth

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 01:26 PM

WOW -- good for you for being a big enough person to realize that she needs this diet to feel better. I can think of quite a few people close to me who really have no desire to understand (if someone truly does not understand that is one thing. But if someone is ignorant enough to know what is wrong and make a point of to ridicule/humiliate/guilt me... shame on them). It is quite admirable to do that.

I really enjoy reading other people's situations in terms of one partner has celiac and the other does not. I definitely think it is an issue of "do what works for you". For me, I make 90% of the meals and my cooking repertoire includes no gluten (I am the one with celiac). My fiance rarely cooks, but if he does it is gluten free. If need be, he will have a glutinous hotdog/hamburger bun (but usually goes without). If he needs pizza he orders the regular kind and picks up something for me to eat from the grocery store on the way home.

All in all, thanks for sharing that :)
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Monica

dx celiac disease- November 1, 2008
dairy/casein free (much to my chagrin) for good- September 1, 2010

#4 playin_d_fiddle

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 01:41 PM

You and my boyfriend, dear husband of Celiac, should high five! We've been dating for a few months and up until that point he had no idea what Celiac Disease was. I am a strict strict strict NO GLUTEN girl, and not only did he pick up on it quickly, but did research *imagine that* and wanted to learn as much as he could about keeping me safe and healthy. Flash forward to our decision a couple weeks ago to move in together, without having the "gluten free kitchen" talk.... Yes, I know, whoops... But what did he do, he took all of the glutenous food to work to quickly eat and get rid of, he threw away the pasta in the pantry, and will now only buy foods that he either knows by reading (very carefully and learned-ly) are safe for me or by asking me about questionable ones. I didn't ask him to do any of this!!! I was shocked. (I swooned a bit, I will admit)

He now even gets caught up educating others who don't know about Celiac disease and lurking gluten! (well, he partly likes to know more than everyone else, so that helps, heh)

There are conscientious and thoughtful people out there, looking out for our guts! It helps the Celiacs like me, who feel still a bit alienated and judged by many, feel a little more accepted :)

-tianna
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-------------------------------------------
Diagnosed Celiac June 2007
Gluten-free from that moment to this

Life is so much better with better food.

#5 Ahorsesoul

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 05:48 PM

You get five stars!!!!!!!!!!

Wish you would teach seminars on this subject.
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1960s-had symptoms-could have been before but don't remember
1970s-told had colitis or nervous stomach-was given phenobarbital, felt great but still had symptoms
Me, dd and ds diagnosed with Lactose Intolerance
2000-osteopenia
2001-had stroke because of medications I was given
June 2003-saw Chiropractor who specialized in nutrition: Celiac Disease not Lactose Intolerance, went gluten free with once in awhile cheating, off soy and dairy for about 6 months
June 2003-found excellent doctor for fibromyalgia (who has found out she has Celiac Disease)
May 2006-went gluten free with NO cheating-excellent! Made all the difference in the world

#6 FMcGee

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 01:52 PM

You seem like a great, supportive husband, and that's wonderful. I'm sure your wife is very grateful for the lengths you have gone to.

That said, I think you're being pretty hard on people who don't give up gluten for their significant others. I live with my fiance, and did before I was diagnosed with celiac disease. We're definitely foodies, both of us. I have not asked him to give anything up. I do most of the cooking around here, so of course what I cook is gluten-free, and he knows I'm not making any gluten-full food again, and he doesn't care, he's a grown up, he can make what he wants. When he does make a sandwich or whatever, he cleans up. He brushes his teeth after he eats. He's extremely careful, he loves me more than I can tell you, and I feel that every day. He is NOT shallow. I cannot imagine a human being treating me better. I think for me to ask him to give up gluten forever would make me feel atrocious, because it would break his heart. I wouldn't want to put him through what I went - and am still at times going - through. If he did it voluntarily, that's fine. He's never made me sick. He's careful because he loves me, just like you gave up gluten because you love your wife.

Furthermore, we absolutely cannot afford to have both of us eating gluten-free. It isn't feasible. We're living paycheck to paycheck as it is, and if we were both using the gluten-free bread and eating the gluten-free cereal, we'd be, well, gluten-free toast. We've certainly leaned more toward gluten-free food in what we buy, and I enjoy baking treats for us to share when we can afford it, but even if we wanted to, it wouldn't be feasible. But we don't want to. So, let's not call everyone who doesn't go gluten-free for a spouse stupid and shallow, okay? Do what works for you.
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#7 tarnalberry

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 03:24 PM

I'm in a mixed household like FMcgee. Anything I cook is gluten free, and just about everything I buy is as well. But my husband has his own corner of the kitchen counter for a gluteny cutting board and toaster, and a shelf for granola bars and oatmeal. If he is responsible with his stuff (which he is), why should he be restricted from it? He is a picky eater (not a foodie, but a supertaster) and he really doesn't like a lot of gluten free substitutes. (They don't taste the same, and he's particularly sensitive to bitter tastes, which many gluten-free flours have some of. He is, of course, a good sport, and will at least try muffins I make. ;) ) I wouldn't want him to not have granola bars in the house (he wouldn't eat breakfast) or oatmeal (he wouldn't eat much else in the way of whole grains, and would then snack on unhealthier things).

I completely agree that it shouldn't be seen as 'a problem' to not cook gluteny foods. I completely agree that the "lowest common denominator" is what keeps the celiac healthy. But there isn't only one solution to that question.
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Tiffany aka "Have I Mentioned Chocolate Lately?"
Inconclusive Blood Tests, Positive Dietary Results, No Endoscopy
G.F. - September 2003; C.F. - July 2004
Hiker, Yoga Teacher, Engineer, Painter, Be-er of Me
Bellevue, WA

#8 RollingAlong

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 06:01 PM

You lost most of your migraines?? that is so cool!
Mine are gone too. I went gluten-free to support my spouse, sure, but a big part of it was that, to be perfectly honest, is that I knew was too lazy to attempt a "mixed" household. I knew I would screw up. gluten-free seemed so much easier. And then I got the huge bonus payoff - no migraines!!! I also have more energy now, hmmmm.

He also needed to give up dairy and that has saved us a lot on the groceries.
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#9 Gemini

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 10:45 AM

You seem like a great, supportive husband, and that's wonderful. I'm sure your wife is very grateful for the lengths you have gone to.

That said, I think you're being pretty hard on people who don't give up gluten for their significant others. I live with my fiance, and did before I was diagnosed with celiac disease. We're definitely foodies, both of us. I have not asked him to give anything up. I do most of the cooking around here, so of course what I cook is gluten-free, and he knows I'm not making any gluten-full food again, and he doesn't care, he's a grown up, he can make what he wants. When he does make a sandwich or whatever, he cleans up. He brushes his teeth after he eats. He's extremely careful, he loves me more than I can tell you, and I feel that every day. He is NOT shallow. I cannot imagine a human being treating me better. I think for me to ask him to give up gluten forever would make me feel atrocious, because it would break his heart. I wouldn't want to put him through what I went - and am still at times going - through. If he did it voluntarily, that's fine. He's never made me sick. He's careful because he loves me, just like you gave up gluten because you love your wife.

Furthermore, we absolutely cannot afford to have both of us eating gluten-free. It isn't feasible. We're living paycheck to paycheck as it is, and if we were both using the gluten-free bread and eating the gluten-free cereal, we'd be, well, gluten-free toast. We've certainly leaned more toward gluten-free food in what we buy, and I enjoy baking treats for us to share when we can afford it, but even if we wanted to, it wouldn't be feasible. But we don't want to. So, let's not call everyone who doesn't go gluten-free for a spouse stupid and shallow, okay? Do what works for you.


I don't think I could have said this better! :D While I think the original poster should be commended for putting his wife's health first, there is simply no reason, other than having small children around, to have a completely gluten-free household, if one person is not a Celiac. My husband and I do just fine and he has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure there is zero (yes, zero!) CC issues. I even make him sandwiches sometimes with wheaty bread! Imagine that! As long as I thoroughly wash the wheat from my hands, I have never had a reaction so it is possible to accomplish.

The one concession he made, and has made no complaints about, is changing to gluten-free beer himself. I don't drink the stuff at all because the smell of gluten beer is enough to make me really sick. I couldn't get near him for 2 days after he had a beer. Sooooo, he has had fun trying the gluten-free versions and actually likes them just as much. We can actually kiss now without me keeling over! :lol: There are many ways to work things out and I can say without doubt that my dear husband is no f__king baby, either. <_<
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#10 FMcGee

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 10:58 AM

I don't think I could have said this better! :D While I think the original poster should be commended for putting his wife's health first, there is simply no reason, other than having small children around, to have a completely gluten-free household, if one person is not a Celiac. My husband and I do just fine and he has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure there is zero (yes, zero!) CC issues. I even make him sandwiches sometimes with wheaty bread! Imagine that! As long as I thoroughly wash the wheat from my hands, I have never had a reaction so it is possible to accomplish.

The one concession he made, and has made no complaints about, is changing to gluten-free beer himself. I don't drink the stuff at all because the smell of gluten beer is enough to make me really sick. I couldn't get near him for 2 days after he had a beer. Sooooo, he has had fun trying the gluten-free versions and actually likes them just as much. We can actually kiss now without me keeling over! :lol: There are many ways to work things out and I can say without doubt that my dear husband is no f__king baby, either. <_<



Ha! Your last sentence made me laugh out loud.

Gluten-free beer is hard to find where we live, and I don't drink at all, but my fiance has been trying to find it. It's good to know that some of it is just as tasty!
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#11 Gemini

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 02:31 PM

Ha! Your last sentence made me laugh out loud.

Gluten-free beer is hard to find where we live, and I don't drink at all, but my fiance has been trying to find it. It's good to know that some of it is just as tasty!


It's very tasty, according to my hubby BUT the damn price has gone up! Anheiser-Busch raised their distributor fee and the greedy state I live in just raised the alcohol tax......yeah, go ahead and tax my gluten-free red wine! :angry: So, we got a double whammy and the price (sit down, please!) is $10.80 a six pack! Thank God he doesn't drink that much at all but still! :o

Another good beer is Green's....it's from a micro-brewery in Belgium. Very high alcohol content and hubby loves it but it's even more expensive than the Redbridge.
I think he paid around $6.00 for a PINT so that's special occasion only. At least it keeps him from becoming an alcoholic!
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#12 FMcGee

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 02:50 PM

It's very tasty, according to my hubby BUT the damn price has gone up! Anheiser-Busch raised their distributor fee and the greedy state I live in just raised the alcohol tax......yeah, go ahead and tax my gluten-free red wine! :angry: So, we got a double whammy and the price (sit down, please!) is $10.80 a six pack! Thank God he doesn't drink that much at all but still! :o

Another good beer is Green's....it's from a micro-brewery in Belgium. Very high alcohol content and hubby loves it but it's even more expensive than the Redbridge.
I think he paid around $6.00 for a PINT so that's special occasion only. At least it keeps him from becoming an alcoholic!



WOW. Yeah, my boyfriend doesn't drink a lot either. He's a glass-of-wine-with-dinner guy, and a beer on the weekends while he watches soccer or goes to a football game. At those prices, I doubt we could afford to have him switch to gluten-free beer, and it's not available at any of the bars around here, so he'd still drink the gluteny stuff when he's out anyway. Oh well.
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#13 heathen

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 05:20 PM

my hubby also had to deal with my gluten-free changeover while we were dating--and he and his family have been overwhelmingly supportive. you have no idea how much stress it relieves to know that he'll eat where and what i can eat.
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Diagnosed Celiac in February 2006
Villus blunting and positive blood test

#14 JNBunnie1

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 04:14 AM

my hubby also had to deal with my gluten-free changeover while we were dating--and he and his family have been overwhelmingly supportive. you have no idea how much stress it relieves to know that he'll eat where and what i can eat.

My boyfriend is more paranoid than I am. He had some gluteny stuff in the house he was really careful with, but he started to get too nervous about it (I get sick for one full month off some ridiculously small amount of gluten) and now he doesn't keep anything in the house. He'll eat it when we're out, but usually not because he doesn't want to have to carry a toothbrush everywhere for kisses. He gets really mad when he hears about people being mean about gluten too. I mean, my father died of cancer almost three years ago. Then we hear about people breaking up with their spouses/significant others over FOOD? If you can't handle a food change, how are you going to handle the big stuff?
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If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill

#15 FMcGee

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 04:30 AM

Then we hear about people breaking up with their spouses/significant others over FOOD? If you can't handle a food change, how are you going to handle the big stuff?


I agree - breaking up with someone over this... probably isn't breaking up with someone over THIS. In other words, if Person A dumps Person B because Person B can no longer eat gluten, then Person A had other issues, either with him/herself or with Person B. It's not that big a thing to handle in the grand scheme of life.

I'm still standing firm, though, on the belief that not everyone has to go gluten-free for one's partner. If that's what works for you and your partner, rock on. That's not what works in my relationship, at least for the moment. My partner is wonderful and supportive and is never even the SLIGHTEST bit irritable about my inability to eat at certain restaurants or try certain dishes. He's more likely to be upset with someone else for being rude or unaccommodating than I am. But it doesn't make sense, in our lives right now, for him to go gluten-free. Now, if we end up having a child or two with celiac disease, that might be different, at least at home, but that isn't the case at the moment. We can't afford it, and it isn't stressing me out or making me sick because he's very careful, and I don't see his gluten-eating status as a statement of his commitment.
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