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Do You Expect Relatives To Cater To Your Gluten-Free Diet?


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#1 ljgs

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 09:15 AM

My 13-year-old was just diagnosed a month and a half ago. So far things are going pretty well, but I'm feeling a little irked over something and want opinions. A few weeks after her diagnosis we were invited to my husband's sister for a family birthday party. She was good about providing safe BBQ food for my daughter--even a separate grill--but then there was a big fat wheat birthday cake. My daughter was able to eat dessert because I brought gluten-free brownies, which other people ate but which were viewed with suspicion after my father-in-law announced to everyone that they were gluten-free. The following week my kids went to stay overnight with my in-laws. They went to a minor-league ballgame and I ended up packing dinner for my daughter because there wasn't much to eat at the game. My mother-in-law asked me to send breakfast food so she would have something. I guess I was just hoping she would have offered to buy my daughter's favorite cereal or something (how hard is it to find gluten-free Chex?) So...on to tonight: Rosh Hashanah. We're going to my mother's house. My in-laws are also coming--we're lucky that both families are close and always spend major holidays together. My mother took care to cook the brisket gluten-free, in a foil pan, as well as potatoes and other stuff. She forgot to get gluten-free gefilte fish but at least she sent my dad out this morning to try to find it. (Unsuccessfully--I ended up buying it myself today.) Then my mother told me that my mother-in-law was bringing some desserts. I know, of course, that they will not be gluten-free, nor will any effort have been made to find gluten-free desserts. My mother-in-law doesn't cook or bake at all, so asking her to make something would be out of the question.

Am I too sensitive? We recently spent a week on vacation with my in-laws and they were willing to go to the restaurants that would accommodate my daughter on most nights. On the few nights they didn't want to join us, they went to places that weren't safe for my daughter. My mother-in-law told me at the end of the trip that she was very happy we were able to eat together most nights--she had thought that we weren't going to be sharing many dinners during the trip because she figured we would need to go to "strange" restaurants that wouldn't serve anything she and the rest of the family would like. I asked her why she thought that and she had no answer.

Are my in-laws (parents and sister) a little insensitive or am I just too sensitive?
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#2 scarlett77

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 10:33 AM

My 13-year-old was just diagnosed a month and a half ago. So far things are going pretty well, but I'm feeling a little irked over something and want opinions. A few weeks after her diagnosis we were invited to my husband's sister for a family birthday party. She was good about providing safe BBQ food for my daughter--even a separate grill--but then there was a big fat wheat birthday cake. My daughter was able to eat dessert because I brought gluten-free brownies, which other people ate but which were viewed with suspicion after my father-in-law announced to everyone that they were gluten-free. The following week my kids went to stay overnight with my in-laws. They went to a minor-league ballgame and I ended up packing dinner for my daughter because there wasn't much to eat at the game. My mother-in-law asked me to send breakfast food so she would have something. I guess I was just hoping she would have offered to buy my daughter's favorite cereal or something (how hard is it to find gluten-free Chex?) So...on to tonight: Rosh Hashanah. We're going to my mother's house. My in-laws are also coming--we're lucky that both families are close and always spend major holidays together. My mother took care to cook the brisket gluten-free, in a foil pan, as well as potatoes and other stuff. She forgot to get gluten-free gefilte fish but at least she sent my dad out this morning to try to find it. (Unsuccessfully--I ended up buying it myself today.) Then my mother told me that my mother-in-law was bringing some desserts. I know, of course, that they will not be gluten-free, nor will any effort have been made to find gluten-free desserts. My mother-in-law doesn't cook or bake at all, so asking her to make something would be out of the question.

Am I too sensitive? We recently spent a week on vacation with my in-laws and they were willing to go to the restaurants that would accommodate my daughter on most nights. On the few nights they didn't want to join us, they went to places that weren't safe for my daughter. My mother-in-law told me at the end of the trip that she was very happy we were able to eat together most nights--she had thought that we weren't going to be sharing many dinners during the trip because she figured we would need to go to "strange" restaurants that wouldn't serve anything she and the rest of the family would like. I asked her why she thought that and she had no answer.

Are my in-laws (parents and sister) a little insensitive or am I just too sensitive?


No & No actually. My husband and I have had very similar issues. We were especially upset with my family because at first they didn't take it as seriously as we did. We were told that we were being overly protective and taking it way too seriously. I have major issues with this way of thinking. It is my JOB as a parent to ensure the safety of my kids so yes I am going to do everything in my power to ensure that my son is eating safe food. My other issue was that my mother, who of all people knows what it is like to have a medical issue that people have to cater to occasionally, would be proactive and do some research about Celiac. Find safe foods or ask questions to have safe food on hand if we come to visit (which we did quite often since we only live 3 miles away). Honestly, it wasn't until my nephew was diagnosed with nut and dairy allergies and landed in the hospital a couple of times did they start taking us more seriously. I actually stopped talking to my family for awhile because of this. I ended up writing a 4 page letter expressing my issues and concerns and we are now starting to try to work things out.

People have a hard time wrapping their heads around special diets that omit such common things as bread. We HAD to learn the daunting task of how to eat healthy and navigate hidden sources of gluten such as from CC or that malt in rice crispies. To "normal" people it seems impossible, much like the way we felt when some of us (or our kids) were diagnosed. Is it fair to make extended family eat gluten-free solely for the purpose of inclusion? No. But it would be nice if the took the opportunity to understand about it and take their loved ones into consideration. For example, don't expect them to make a gluten-free cake for a non-Celiac birthday...but it would be nice if they called you to let you know so you can bring something for your DD. It would be even better if they offered to purchase/make a treat for her because she wouldn't be able to eat the cake. Or at least make sure the ice cream is gluten-free. I personally make sure that b-day cakes and goodies that I host are gluten-free. If I invite my nephew I also make sure goodies are nut free and dairy free. It is a bit of a challenge at times, but he is my nephew and his health is important to me. If for some reason I can't accommodate him (which is rare-only when we are going to our grandmother's) I will coordinate with my sister to make sure we feed the boys similar items.

And about the restaurant thing...when DS was first diagnosed my mom went and bought a couple of gluten-free specialty items to keep at her house. They were horrid and DS did not like them. I had to explain to her that there are MANY main stream gluten-free items out there that she likes that she can just keep on hand like raisins, chex, mission tortilla chips, etc. She had no clue and I told told her point blank:"that is because you didn't even look." She had just assumed that omitting gluten meant everything had to be "special".

Education is key...but they have to be willing pupils.
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#3 kareng

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 10:34 AM

Yes.



:huh: Oh! maybe I should add something. Because this is new to you and everyone else, there will be a learning curve. It will take the people who don't deal with it everyday, longer to "get" it. Bring your own dessert and keep some aside so its safe from crumbs.

With my parents, they started asking stupid questions like "Can you eat eggs? Can you eat...?" I just said yes. We looked at the ingredients of some stuff they had at home and found that most stuff was gluten-free. Not including the bread, crackers, obvious stuff. I think people don't realize that most foods like meat, veggies, fruits, etc are gluten-free unless you add something. CC is the real issue with a lot of peoples food. Enjoy the Holiday!
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#4 Skylark

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 10:35 AM

I'm impressed that your SIL even went to the trouble of setting up a separate grill. It sounds like your MIL doesn't want to go out of her way, but she is taking the diagnosis seriously enough to make sure you are sending safe food.

I'd call them a touch insensitive as far as not providing dessert for a kid (who really cares about it). We've seen some real horror stories with relatives not taking the diagnosis seriously and feeding kids gluten behind parents' backs, so your relatives are actually doing better than many!

You might have to make more suggestions to your MIL. She might not have thought of Chex cereal. She also may not have a clue about gluten-free desserts and probably will want to follow your family's holiday traditions. You could suggest she grab some halva or a tin of Manichewitz macaroons, either of which is gluten-free if your daughter likes them. (I haven't seen gluten in any major brands of halva.)
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#5 GlutenFreeManna

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 10:59 AM

My 13-year-old was just diagnosed a month and a half ago. So far things are going pretty well, but I'm feeling a little irked over something and want opinions. A few weeks after her diagnosis we were invited to my husband's sister for a family birthday party. She was good about providing safe BBQ food for my daughter--even a separate grill--but then there was a big fat wheat birthday cake. My daughter was able to eat dessert because I brought gluten-free brownies, which other people ate but which were viewed with suspicion after my father-in-law announced to everyone that they were gluten-free. The following week my kids went to stay overnight with my in-laws. They went to a minor-league ballgame and I ended up packing dinner for my daughter because there wasn't much to eat at the game. My mother-in-law asked me to send breakfast food so she would have something. I guess I was just hoping she would have offered to buy my daughter's favorite cereal or something (how hard is it to find gluten-free Chex?) So...on to tonight: Rosh Hashanah. We're going to my mother's house. My in-laws are also coming--we're lucky that both families are close and always spend major holidays together. My mother took care to cook the brisket gluten-free, in a foil pan, as well as potatoes and other stuff. She forgot to get gluten-free gefilte fish but at least she sent my dad out this morning to try to find it. (Unsuccessfully--I ended up buying it myself today.) Then my mother told me that my mother-in-law was bringing some desserts. I know, of course, that they will not be gluten-free, nor will any effort have been made to find gluten-free desserts. My mother-in-law doesn't cook or bake at all, so asking her to make something would be out of the question.

Am I too sensitive? We recently spent a week on vacation with my in-laws and they were willing to go to the restaurants that would accommodate my daughter on most nights. On the few nights they didn't want to join us, they went to places that weren't safe for my daughter. My mother-in-law told me at the end of the trip that she was very happy we were able to eat together most nights--she had thought that we weren't going to be sharing many dinners during the trip because she figured we would need to go to "strange" restaurants that wouldn't serve anything she and the rest of the family would like. I asked her why she thought that and she had no answer.

Are my in-laws (parents and sister) a little insensitive or am I just too sensitive?


I'm sorry, I'm having trouble seeing what the issue is? Is it just that they are not willing to buy gluten free food or make gluten free desserts for your daughter? It sounds like they are being accommodating in many ways--cooking barbecue and other things on foil, going to some restaurants that have gluten free menus, asking you to send safe breakfast food, etc. Also the comment at the end from your MIL about thinking you would have to go to strange restaurants makes me think they really just don't know much about what your daughter can eat. Perhaps you need to educate them a a little about celiac diseas/gluten. Give them a list of mainstream items that your daughter can have so they will see that there are many options for what to feed her. But in the end even if they understand what your daughter can and can't have, they may tell you they are more comfortable with you sending food so they know it's safe for her. If that's your only problem you should be happy. That's much more than some inlaws do. I have read many horror stories on here about grandparents and other extended family members trying to feed celiac kids items with gluten on purpose, saying either a "a little won't hurt them" or not believing that it's a real illness. There are stories of relatives getting caught putting flour in casseroles that they claim are gluten free to "test" whether gluten really makes their celiac relative sick or if it's "all in their heads". At least it sounds like your in-laws are willing to make reasonable accommodations. You can't expect that they will not make a regular birthday cake for their non-celiac relative's birthday or completely change their lifestyle and start checking all labels of things and buying gluten free stuff. The best you can do is what you are already doing--sending food your daughter can eat and bringing a dessert she can eat whenever there's a party.
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#6 Cheryl_C

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 11:26 AM

Having just been through something similar this weekend, I would say yes to both questions.

When it's your allergy (or in this case, your child's) you are naturally going to be more informed, invested, etc; it's only natural.

It sounds like your inlaws are not familiar with what kinds of things she can have - maybe provide them with a list of mainstream food she can have? Having something there to read (instead of trying to remember) might give them more confidence and be more willing to try.

Separate grill rocks - that's very thoughtful. When we did our bbq here, my dad cooked the (plain) chicken first and the (pre-seasoned steaks second, to remove CC. Some people need a nudge here and there to think about CC.

The cake thing is frustrating, but no, you can't expect everyone to go gluten-free. Our bb
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#7 Cheryl_C

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 11:29 AM

(sorry, I got cut off? LOL)

Our bbq was a birthday party, and out of 13 people, I'm the only one gluten-free. My aunt brought a cake for everyone else, and I got a cupcake from the bakery I trust. The only thing that ticked me off was that the rest of my family somehow got their crumbs all over everything - including the gluten-free cookies my mom had made! Arg! Again, it's about information.

It's a big change, and some people don't handle changes well. I've had people say "It's only got a little flour, it won't hurt you" or "It's not like you'll die" or any number of things that show ignorance of the information. Rather than being mad for too long, I take breaths and respond (politely) firmly.

Good luck!
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#8 tarnalberry

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 11:38 AM

Are they insensitive? No, I don't think so. You cite a number of instances where they are showing rather a lot of sensitivity.
Are you being sensitive? Yes, but understandably.

The thing is - you (through your daughter) live with this. You know the adjustments, the modifications, the specialty food, the impact on daily life from living with it every day. This is completely foreign to their habits and life. I would never expect anyone to make large changes to accommodate me (and, if need be, my daughter), whether they are family or not. But there's a lot of room for compromise here. The first thing to do is to help educate them. When you are asked for gluten-free cereal for her, say "well, can you pick up Rice Chex at the store when you're there? that's gluten free and she loves it."

(But, honestly, with dessert - I wouldn't WANT people to try to accommodate me. Chances are, they'll get it wrong and I'll get sick.)
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#9 ljgs

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 11:48 AM

Thank you!!! I'm glad to hear that everyone thinks my in-laws are being accommodating. I wanted to believe that. I think you're right--a lot of it is just misunderstanding and not knowing what is safe and what isn't. I guess I expected my entire extended family to start Googling celiac and to automatically know what has gluten and what doesn't. But that's just me, I guess. And I truly cannot believe grandparents would knowingly gluten a child. What a horror show! I think I would stop speaking to relatives who did that. I'll count my blessings and just keep providing food for my daughter and know it is safe. :)
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#10 K-Dawg

 
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Posted 08 September 2010 - 03:35 PM

I never expect my relatives to cater events in a gluten free manner. I typically bring my entire meal, today being one of those days!! lol. When they offer and take it very seriously, being aware of and taking steps to avoid CC, I am grateful.

I'm also grateful that I can go to these events, with my own meal, and feel GOOD the entire time...no feeling sick after dinner and wanting to get out of there and go home. When I was first diagnosed, I was overwhelmed..it seemed impossible to figure this diet out and I just don't expect anybody else to do that...especially in the time frame I needed to do it. Not everyone needs to be an expert! Just me. Over time, my relatives have become more educated.

But, no. I don't expect other people to understand all the issues related to the gluten-free diet or celiac disease. I just expect them to be gracious when I say, "thanks for making that pie, but I"m unable to eat it because....."

KDawg

Thank you!!! I'm glad to hear that everyone thinks my in-laws are being accommodating. I wanted to believe that. I think you're right--a lot of it is just misunderstanding and not knowing what is safe and what isn't. I guess I expected my entire extended family to start Googling celiac and to automatically know what has gluten and what doesn't. But that's just me, I guess. And I truly cannot believe grandparents would knowingly gluten a child. What a horror show! I think I would stop speaking to relatives who did that. I'll count my blessings and just keep providing food for my daughter and know it is safe. :)


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#11 modiddly16

 
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Posted 09 September 2010 - 04:17 AM

I actually hate being catered to with my family. I really don't like to stand out and make people change everything just for me, it makes me really uncomfortable. That being said...my family does it because they're my family. Sometimes, its not sucessful and sometimes its great but the fact that they even want to try is enough for me! It seems like your family is trying for sure, but there is definitely a learning curve. I've been a celiac for almost 7 years and sometimes my dad still offers me pretzels haha and then is like, "oh...whoops" and then picks on me telling me how delicious they are. That stuff doesn't bother me.

I tend to bring my own desserts or food to those events, most of the time people don't even know its gluten free and they chow them up!

I know its hard not to be overprotective of your daughter, the initial years of diagnosis can be quite challenging but it sounds like your family has been more sensitive than most stories I've heard on this board!
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#12 Cheryl_C

 
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Posted 09 September 2010 - 06:06 AM

But, no. I don't expect other people to understand all the issues related to the gluten-free diet or celiac disease. I just expect them to be gracious when I say, "thanks for making that pie, but I"m unable to eat it because....."

KDawg


This is the really important part. It's like some people are determined not to get it. Thanks for offering, but it's made with _________ and you know I can't eat _______ so why are you getting so bent out of shape when I (very politely) say "It really looks great, but unfortunately because of my allergy I can't have any"? It's like you trying their food is more important than you being safe.
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#13 luvs2eat

 
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Posted 09 September 2010 - 06:21 AM

I think they sound like they're trying to be accommodating and that's good. In fact, I'd RATHER take my own food/desserts so I won't get glutened w/ the best and most loving intentions. My incredibly sweet, late MIL bought me a loaf of gluten-free bread but it was disgusting tasting and I felt like I had to eat it because it was expensive and she went so far out of her way to find it. I'd rather bring my own bread!

I ask people never to cook to accommodate me because I don't trust that I won't get glutened! It's just easier... and safer... for me to bring stuff!
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#14 srall

 
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Posted 09 September 2010 - 03:36 PM

I read your post last night and it got me thinking. I have gluten intolerance, and I only have to look out for myself. It must be hell trying to protect a child from gluten. And I agree, a relative knowingly glutening a child is horrifying. This answer might be sort of off topic. But whenever I'm heading somewhere, like most everyone else on this board I eat a huge meal before I go, and then pack some snacks. I have found that when I've been questioned about why I'm not eating at a party and I say "Oh I 'don't' eat wheat or dairy" instead of "I 'can't' eat wheat or dairy" it seems to sort of shut people down more quickly. Maybe I sound a little imperious, but I think it comes across as "it's not really up for discussion" where as "can't" seems to invite "Why?" "What about white bread?" "I don't think this soy sauce has wheat?" "A little won't hurt you." (Of course in a restaurant I say "can't)


Your relatives actually sound very supportive to me. Since going of gluten and dairy I am the one who has done the crash course about what is safe for me. I was so incredibly ignorant about all this 6 months ago. The least I can say for myself is that if someone left their child in my care I would have been as careful as possible to make sure what he/she was eating was safe.
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#15 Takala

 
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Posted 10 September 2010 - 07:31 AM

Just wanted to say hello, and here is a website that you and your relatives might enjoy- the blogger has an extensive archive of gluten free kosher recipes :)

http://glutenfreebay.blogspot.com/
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