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When Do You Speak Up?


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#1 cdog7

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 09:18 AM

I have a frequent problem with friends and coworkers (mostly the latter) seeming completely oblivious to my diet needs, and not caring to really understand it, when it comes to social situations with food. At my office, this includes every single management effort to promote 'bonding' in the staff, and typically leaves me out. People around me get excited about their pizza, or their free bagels, and I just feel depressed – while trying not to look like it.

The last thing I want is to be hated and seen as just a big 'sour grapes' complainer. Honestly, I have trouble with the whole speaking-up thing to begin with, which is something I've had to work on since it's pretty much mandatory now! I am having trouble with figuring out when I should be more 'proactive' and when I should just shut up and try to forget about it.

But everyone here knows I am celiac and can't eat pizza, etc. Today we have a free pizza day, some kind of morale-booster idea, and I was informed there would be salad "for those who don't eat pizza." I am sorry, but I am so sick of salad! Am I right? It's the token 'meal' for anyone with a special diet when you can't get a real meal together. Like, here's some lettuce and low-calorie oil dressing. Bon Appetit! Not a meal (and sometimes cross-contaminated anyway). But people here don't care if I enjoy the options given to me, they feel it's going out of their way to have anything I can eat, period. If it's my birthday, they'll have a cake for everyone and maybe some yogurt for "those who don't eat cake" for instance. Such a treat! What happens is everyone else has some of the amazing-looking gluten food with a side order of what was meant to be my entree.

Ok, so I figure you guys can relate. But I don't want to get all passive-aggressive on my office mates – on some level I feel like I should be grateful they thought of me at all. But at the same time, I don't look forward to ANY of these office meals/treats because they are never a treat for me. Should I say something? Is it worth it?

I'm actually looking for a new job anyway, for several reasons, but who knows when I'll find anything. It's still really rough out there.

Another question – is this normal? Is this other people's experience in social situations? I find that actual friends seem more thoughtful, even if they still can forget sometimes (which of course, I might too, if it weren't my daily life). This is a small office, less than 30 people, they all know me. It just seems really weird, almost hurtful. But then I think I'm overreacting.

Ugh. Are there like, coaches for this sort of thing? There should be gluten-free life coaches!
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#2 eatmeat4good

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 09:36 AM

I don't want others to provide me food. If they do, they are thoughtful, but then I'm scared to eat it for cross-contamination concerns. So I decided to just bring my food. You know....they are kinda damned if they do and damned if they don't. If somebody tried to cook gluten free or bring you a gluten free cake would you actually eat it? Or would you then have to ask a bunch of questions about how they made it to determine if it was actually safe. I guess my way is to keep a low profile and "Let them eat cake."

There is a feeling of being left out when you start out this life, but I hope it gets better for you. I still feel that too.
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Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.
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#3 etta694

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 09:53 AM

I have an idea.. maybe goofy but.. send yourself a beautiful gluten free treat, if you can or get a friend to bring it as a 'celebration', and let them all see that 1. There are other gluten free foods out there and 2. Someone who cares would think to provide something special. They may or may not get it.. I did it for a friend who works in a school. I took a pan of brownies over to her. They were for her - alone-.. being gluten free. ;)
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Anemia and IBS through my life
2005 Joint pain, exhaustion, general feeling of not being well 2006 Beginning of testing for everything but Celiac 2008 Bloating, more muscle stiffness, feeling sicker, more exhausted-testing 'normal' 2010 March insides begin to shut down, cough that won't go away 2010 June Colonoscopy, Endoscopy, biopsy - all show no problems
Self diagnosed gluten intolerant - went gluten free. Within 3 days feeling better.
After 5 days - insides began to move
Now - feel better than I have felt for 15 years (except when I gluten myself.. which I'm good at)

#4 cdog7

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:01 AM

I can appreciate why you'd rather provide your own food. For the same reasons I am wary of pot lucks. But there are actually nearby restaurants - even a Whole Foods grocery with a gluten-free bakery - where I can safely get food. So it's not an issue of not having any safe options, they just always choose the options I can not have.

I always end up bringing/getting my own food in anyway, I just want to understand what their thinking is.

Hm, yeah the social issues are pretty much the worst part of this for me. I don't mind the diet so much, but that's because there are plenty of genuinely delicious options out there! My meals at home are still quite satisfying, even most of my meals dining out. I love food, I just wish it wasn't such a source of stress and disappointment when it comes to the office. Someone else just stood up and made a joke about how little they care about the salad, so long as they get pizza - it's just like a recurring insult.

Sorry to be so negative, I did just have a reaction to something this weekend. :-/ Just starting to get better!
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#5 Stacy hated pancake Sunday

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:08 AM

I haven't been in a work environment since self diagnosing. But I have always had weird little food issues and my co-workers were used to me refusing food in favor of what I packed for myself and with the exception of one..did not hassle me about what I was or wasn't eating...and that was more out of concern that I might be not be eating enough.

My friends are pretty much ok with my limitations, there is an effort to make sure I can eat something , they all read and understand labels...we've only had issues when I try to drink beyond my safe margaritas...I react to grain based alcohol..but that is part of the learning curve for them and myself.

Now my family? That's hit or miss.. My mom offers me bananas..she chooses not to understand it and goes as far as accusing me of being a hypochondriac. My MIL has substituted ritz crackers for bread crumbs on chicken parm in order to accommodate my diet...it was a sweet thought..but it took a few minutes before she understood that gluten went beyond a loaf of bread. My kids (6 & 8) read labels and have a good sense of what might be gluten. Stepson(20) and my husband both think it's funny..most of the time they will acknowledge it's a real issue for me...but DH gluten-ized me a week ago and I'm pretty sure I was being 'tested'..he normally doesn't remember what he does from one day to the next..but when I started talking about going to the hospital for a bad bout of depression and anxiety out of the blue...and leaving him in charge of the kids he confessed that he accidentally used the community margarine tub when he surprised me with eggs for breakfast....since I haven't been treated with breakfast..never mind breakfast in bed in about 10 years..I didn't even think to ask what butter he used.

Now on my mothers side I have a cousin and her daughter that have been gluten-free and Casein free for years...I just found out about them being gluten-free a few months ago...my mother had been keeping that little tidbit to herself...because "I didn't need any more encouragement, with this nonsense." Hindsight being 20/20 I had obvious issues with gluten all of my life. My mother should probably be tested(she won't) and her father probably had issues with gluten too.
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#6 chasbari

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:10 AM

I already told the story but.. my family got together for my birthday and had ice cream, cake and goodies.. nothing for me.. and, oh yes, they know about my dietary restrictions. They sure had a good time. Is it enough to drive you crazy? Sure. I just don't care anymore. No one there seemed to think I would feel left out or bothered. Oh well. I don't trust others when it comes to food prep because of attitudes like this so I will just provide my own, thank you very much!
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#7 kwylee

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:20 AM

I feel best when I am in control of what I eat, so it would make me uncomfortable for others to provide an alternative treat for me. That being said, I can feel the angst in your post, and I do undertand completely that it hurts to be left out.

I manage a number of employees. I would much rather someone approach me calmly, explain what is on their mind and at the same time, suggest a solution, rather than present a problem and leave it at that. No one wins there. But I am always happy to be able to accomodate a good employee! If you are planning to stay at this particular job, then perhaps you can speak with your manager and respectfully suggest an alternative treat that you WOULD like.
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K Wylee

Gluten Intolerant, Positive test, June 2010
Casein sensitivity, Positive test, June 2010
Reactive to soy, most processed foods & preservatives, June 2010

#8 heatherjane

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:26 AM

I have a frequent problem with friends and coworkers (mostly the latter) seeming completely oblivious to my diet needs, and not caring to really understand it, when it comes to social situations with food. At my office, this includes every single management effort to promote 'bonding' in the staff, and typically leaves me out. People around me get excited about their pizza, or their free bagels, and I just feel depressed – while trying not to look like it.

The last thing I want is to be hated and seen as just a big 'sour grapes' complainer. Honestly, I have trouble with the whole speaking-up thing to begin with, which is something I've had to work on since it's pretty much mandatory now! I am having trouble with figuring out when I should be more 'proactive' and when I should just shut up and try to forget about it.

But everyone here knows I am celiac and can't eat pizza, etc. Today we have a free pizza day, some kind of morale-booster idea, and I was informed there would be salad "for those who don't eat pizza." I am sorry, but I am so sick of salad! Am I right? It's the token 'meal' for anyone with a special diet when you can't get a real meal together. Like, here's some lettuce and low-calorie oil dressing. Bon Appetit! Not a meal (and sometimes cross-contaminated anyway). But people here don't care if I enjoy the options given to me, they feel it's going out of their way to have anything I can eat, period. If it's my birthday, they'll have a cake for everyone and maybe some yogurt for "those who don't eat cake" for instance. Such a treat! What happens is everyone else has some of the amazing-looking gluten food with a side order of what was meant to be my entree.

Ok, so I figure you guys can relate. But I don't want to get all passive-aggressive on my office mates – on some level I feel like I should be grateful they thought of me at all. But at the same time, I don't look forward to ANY of these office meals/treats because they are never a treat for me. Should I say something? Is it worth it?

I'm actually looking for a new job anyway, for several reasons, but who knows when I'll find anything. It's still really rough out there.

Another question – is this normal? Is this other people's experience in social situations? I find that actual friends seem more thoughtful, even if they still can forget sometimes (which of course, I might too, if it weren't my daily life). This is a small office, less than 30 people, they all know me. It just seems really weird, almost hurtful. But then I think I'm overreacting.

Ugh. Are there like, coaches for this sort of thing? There should be gluten-free life coaches!


My office is kind of on the other end of the spectrum... they try to include me by offering to bring me gluten free stuff. I appreciate it, but it scares me because I don't know how they prepare it. So, I respectfully and thankfully decline their offer, tell them with a smile that I'm really high-maintenance and it isn't worth the trouble...which usually gets a laugh.

My suggestion, if you decide to speak up about the "morale boosters", is to approach it with the attitude that you appreciate their efforts, but it's difficult for individuals who have major dietary restrictions. Then provide some fun ideas that don't revolve around food...like a casual dress day, or having a meeting outside if the weather is nice. It's also healthier (and cheaper) for all the gluten-eaters too, who've been loading up on pizza and donuts. A break from all that fat and carbs will probably be good for them. <_<

If it's a no-go, do make sure you have a treat for yourself on those days, so you don't feel left out. It's also helped me to remind myself how I'm not going to regret that slice of pizza like everyone else will later in the afternoon when they lapse into their food comas. :P
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#9 cdog7

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:31 AM

Oh Chasbari, that is awful! I can so relate. And yes, I think it is making me crazy! But maybe in enough time my skin will get thicker. I just don't know – I've always been a sensitive type.

And Stacy, I can relate to what you said too – all those people who think it's just in our heads. That just enrages me, when I think about what I've been through (and you, and everyone else here).

Maybe the larger problem is just a cultural attitude that allergies and food intolerances aren't real, aren't serious, don't count or matter. I often feel like the people who make these wrong food choices for me are just waiting to see if I'll give up my diet for a slice of pizza one day - like it's just some annoying choice I made to get attention or something. No really, I'm not doing this for fun! One of my managers once asked me if I've ever been in a situation where I just had to eat gluten, like a plate of spaghetti - like this would be incredibly funny to him, some kind of sitcom joke. I told him no, I would rather not poison myself and just stay hungry for a bit if I had to.

Maybe some of these people are so hostile/weird about it because they're actually addicted to gluten and it's poisoning their heads? Sometimes I wonder. :)
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#10 kareng

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:39 AM

For the work partys, talk to the person who organizes them. Maybe you could suggest something everyone could eat, like ice cream sundaes. Just be sure they don't get cookies & cream & suggest the gluten-free toppings. Maybe microwave popcorn and sodas. Or suck it up and bring your own. :)
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Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare.  They are consumed in 12 minutes.  Half-times take 12 minutes.  This is not a coincidence.  - Emma Bombeck
 
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#11 cdog7

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:59 AM

I love the idea of non-food-related morale boosters. :) I know I'm not the only one here who'd appreciate it, too!

And I do agree with bringing my own treat on these occasions. Something to make me feel 'rewarded' even if it's just coming from me. :)

I think if we did have more 'perks' that weren't entirely food-based, it would just be a huge weight lifted.

Someone who used to work here actually used to ask me when he ordered food if there was anything on the menu I could eat. It was awesome. I loved that guy. There was a pizza place that makes a gluten-free risotto which I love. Everyone saw me eat it, love it, worship it, praise it. I even shared some. I almost feel like we stopped doing that because of the extra expense (also that guy left). And yeah, money is tight, and a lot of times the gluten-free options are more expensive. Maybe that's the real reason - the stuff they get is the cheapest way to do something for the office? Maybe there's someone here I can ask tactfully if they know whether it's a budget issue.. I really don't want to seem like someone who demands all the expensive stuff when no one else gets it. Will probably suggest the outdoor meeting thing. :)
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#12 heatherjane

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 12:14 PM

I love the idea of non-food-related morale boosters. :) I know I'm not the only one here who'd appreciate it, too!

And I do agree with bringing my own treat on these occasions. Something to make me feel 'rewarded' even if it's just coming from me. :)

I think if we did have more 'perks' that weren't entirely food-based, it would just be a huge weight lifted.

Someone who used to work here actually used to ask me when he ordered food if there was anything on the menu I could eat. It was awesome. I loved that guy. There was a pizza place that makes a gluten-free risotto which I love. Everyone saw me eat it, love it, worship it, praise it. I even shared some. I almost feel like we stopped doing that because of the extra expense (also that guy left). And yeah, money is tight, and a lot of times the gluten-free options are more expensive. Maybe that's the real reason - the stuff they get is the cheapest way to do something for the office? Maybe there's someone here I can ask tactfully if they know whether it's a budget issue.. I really don't want to seem like someone who demands all the expensive stuff when no one else gets it. Will probably suggest the outdoor meeting thing. :)


I work for a large national company and the biggest morale booster for us is that the VP of our department allows us to wear jeans everyday of the week during our busy season...which, coincidentally, falls during the winter and lasts for a few months. We love not having to wear business attire when it's 20 degrees outside! B)
Something on that scale may not work for your company, but it's good to get the higher-ups thinking outside of the "let's-boost-morale-by-distributing-food" box. Personally, I'd prefer a raise with the money they spend on food, but I'll take what I can get. :)
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#13 kareng

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 12:42 PM

I forgot about this until now. We got a water cooler and were all paying $2 every month for the cold water & it had an instant hot water. We earned a treat & the hospital paid for the water cooler for the next budget year.

Free coffee & tea was a nice booster. We got a stereo with speakers around the office once. One place I worked, we hated the color of the walls and instead of a picnic lunch for all 70 people, we got the walls repainted (maintance did it).

Don't know if this is feasible, but some places earn a bring a pet to work day.
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Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare.  They are consumed in 12 minutes.  Half-times take 12 minutes.  This is not a coincidence.  - Emma Bombeck
 
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#14 cdog7

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 12:45 PM

Yes, we'd all prefer the raise, since we've had frozen salaries since 2009! (And frozen hiring) Basically we're all pretty slammed with work, short-staffed, and the boss wants to do something that doesn't cost much to just try to bring a few smiles. And that's awesome. But I've heard a few others grumble about the free food approach too, since it just doesn't solve the problems. Really, I think if it were possible to just give everyone $5 gift cards they'd like it way better. But maybe there's some reason we can't do that, or give out cash – but really, that's what everyone's hurting for. That and basic manpower! Maybe more hours in the day.. OK now I can never say where I work, ha ha.
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#15 domesticactivist

 
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Posted 13 April 2011 - 12:53 PM

I think it makes a lot of sense to talk to the person who organizes these events. It sounds like they are *willing* to make accommodations or do things differently, but just don't quite know how.

It seems like they might be able to do a better job of making these events feel inclusive if you came to that person with suggestions such as:

- What you'd like them to order for you/everyone on pizza day
- Other ideas for team-building that don't revolve around food
- What can be done to prevent cross-contamination
- Letting you know ahead of time about the events so that you can bring something special for yourself that day

As for my personal opinion - I'd rather be in charge of my own food.

I actually just posted a copy/paste about dealing with unsafe food offerings from my blog on this very topic on the Manager Bringing Gluten Free Cake thread: http://www.celiac.co...uten-free-cake/
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Our family is transitioning off the GAPS Intro Diet and into the Full GAPS Diet.
Gluten-Free since November 2010
GAPS Diet since January/February 2011
me - not tested for celiac - currently doing a gluten challenge since 11/26/2011
partner - not tested for celiac
ds - age 11, hospitalized 9/2010, celiac dx by gluten reaction & genetics. No biopsy or blood as we were already gluten-free by the time it was an option.
dd - age 12.5, not celiac, has Tourette's syndome
both kids have now-resolved attention issues.




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