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    Surmounting Social Situations Encountered by those with Celiac Disease and/or Food Allergies


    Jean Duane
    • Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Summer 2018 Issue

    Surmounting Social Situations Encountered by those with Celiac Disease and/or Food Allergies
    Image Caption: Image: CC--Christian Scheja

    Celiac.com 07/13/2018 - I went to a friend’s home for dinner.  A few days before, she called and asked me what I could eat.  I asked her what she was planning to make, and she said she was grilling meats with side dishes.  I said, “Great.  Please just grill a piece of chicken for me with salt and pepper, and I’ll be happy to bring a side.” She said, “No need to bring a side.  I’ve got this.” When I arrived, she greeted me and said, “I spent all day cooking tonight’s dinner so you can eat it. Hey would you just check this salad dressing to see if it is OK for you?” I looked at the ingredients and it contained gluten and dairy, both of which I cannot eat.  Then I glanced around the kitchen and saw evidence of wheat cross-contamination, including buns being toasted on the grill, and gluten-containing barbeque sauce spilling on the grill where my “clean” chicken was cooking. She had other guests to tend to, and I couldn’t offer instruction or read the ingredients of everything she used in the meal. 

    At social gatherings, I’ve been challenged too by those who ask if I am really “allergic,” or just eating gluten free as a “fad.” I’ve been told many times by hosts and hostesses that, “a little won’t hurt you,” or “everything in moderation,” or “if it is made with loving hands, it is good for you to eat.”  Of course, all of this is bunk for those with food allergies or celiac disease.  A little bit may kill us, and whether made with loving hands or not, it will certainly make us sick. 

    Those of us with food allergies and/or celiac disease walk a tightrope with friends and relatives. The old rules of etiquette just don’t work anymore.  We don’t want to insult anybody, we don’t want to be isolated, and we also don’t want to risk our health by eating foods that may contain ingredients we cannot tolerate.  So what do we do? 

    Etiquette books advise us to eat what is put in front of us when we are guests in someone’s home. They caution us at all costs not to insult our hostess. Rather, we are instructed to compliment the hostess on her good cooking, flavor combinations, and food choices.  But when foods are prepared in a cross-contaminated environment with ingredients we are allergic to, we cannot follow the old social constructs that do not serve us.  We need to work together to rewrite the rules, so that we can be included in social gatherings without fear of cross-contamination, and without offending anyone.

    Let’s figure out how to surmount these social situations together.  

    Each edition of this column will present a scenario, and together, we’ll determine appropriate, polite, and most importantly, safe ways to navigate this tricky gluten-free/food allergies lifestyle in a graceful way.  If someone disagrees with our new behavior patterns, we can refer them to this column and say, “Here are the new rules for those of us with food allergies or celiac disease.”  When we are guests in someone’s home, we can give them links to this column so they understand the plight we are faced with, bite after bite. Perhaps this will help those of us living with us to understand, be more compassionate, and accepting of our adaptations to keep ourselves safe. 

    This column will present a scenario such as the one above, and ask that you comment on how you would navigate it. Let’s talk about it. Let’s share ideas.  Using the example above, here’s the scenario for this issue:

    What would you do?
    Your kind-hearted friend invites you to dinner and insists on cooking for you.  You arrive and the first thing she says is, “I’ve spent all day making this for you. Oh, I bought this salad dressing for you, but you might want to read the ingredients first.”  You do, and it contains malt vinegar.  You look around the kitchen and notice evidence of cross-contamination in the rest of the meal.  What do you do? 

    Please comment below and feel free to share the tricky scenarios that you’ve encountered too.  Let’s discuss how to surmount these social situations.  What would you do?


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    For me, the best way to deal with this is to avoid it.  I tell my friends that I will eat before I come or bring a side that will be my meal (often I bring my portion in a separate container).  I tell them it is just so complex to get safe food for me, and I just want to enjoy the company and wine..... yeah they know there needs to be wine!  ?

    When I get there, sometimes there is a happy surprise I can feel safe eating - Like chips and salsa set on a table away from all the other food - or the open bag of chips on a side counter I can serve myself from.  Maybe a big fruit plate or a watermelon that I can grab before anyone else messes with it.  I went to one party where they put the fruit and the carrot sticks on one table away from everything else - the dips were with the main food.  they wanted to keep that table free of gluten and dairy and meat for people with  various health and religious reasons.

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    I will sometimes ask what they are cooking and make my own version that is safe. Other times I will eat before hand. BUT my most preferred thing is actually being the host and cooking foods I know are safe and inviting others to come join me.

    I always keep emergency meal bars, nuts, seeds that are safe or a MRE meal when I head out.

    -_- I do not trust anything not cooked in a 100% gluten free kitchen anymore, or even cut up....I have had knife contamination of Gluten free foods. Got to admit eating with my family this year and cooking with my mother is something I have been able to do again since I invite them over and get all the required gluten free foods for a meal.

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    Guest Jenn

    Posted

    I've started suggesting that the host not worry about feeding me and to focus on the rest of the party. Then I reassure them that I appreciate all of their efforts to feed me but I'm just too paranoid by other past incidents to feel comfortable eating food that I didn't personally make. 

    If that individual is insulted by my need to keep safe I try to reassure them that it isn't about them at all but is my own burden to carry.  If they still aren't having that answer I stop accepting invitations from them.  This includes a larger portion of my family than I'd like but they seem to feel it is a personal challenge to them when I decline their lasagna, cake, or crouton laden salad.

    That leads to the isolation issue and at this point I am rocking the hermit lifestyle on a fairly regular basis.  Better that than eating poison and then having to apologize for the results.  I'm over that game in a huge way.

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    Guest Meal Planning Mastermind

    Posted

    I've been glutened by well-meaning family members and friends. I have celiac disease and other allergies, and my son has different allergies than I do. Oh yeah, and my husband is a vegetarian. Whenever we are invited somewhere, I just tell the hostess that we will bring our own food. It's awkward, and I'm probably making people feel bad and/or uncomfortable, but it's honestly the best thing I've come up with. Because my son's and my allergies are so different, no one can truly comprehend the meal planning wizardry it takes to feed us all the same (or at least similar) meals regularly. I just bear that burden myself, and tell others that we just want to see them and that they shouldn't worry about feeding us.

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    For the situation that started this "what would you do", being a Celiac with lactose intolerance and UC, I would take the time to read the ingredients and then kindly educate the host on all the reasons why I could not eat any of the food he/she had prepared for me. More than likely he/she will either be offended or saddened, but I have come to learn so long as I do what is right and respectful, kind and loving, I am not responsible for how others feel or react. I think it's better to lovingly educate your friend the host so they can learn something invaluable and the two of you can grow closer in friendship.

    Edited by Lifelong Celiac
    Missed a word
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    Upon an invite to any gathering where someone is preparing food, and offers to make gluten free options for me, I would thank them profusely, and then suggest that I would eat earlier, or figure out what I could safely put together once I arrive. I wouldn't educate them on the proper ways yo cook gluten free, as much as tell them it's taken me months and years to figure it out, with a lot of trial and error, so I have zero expectations of them doing so. Then I would bring a nice bottle of wine and change the subject. :)

     

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    I agree wholeheartedly, the scenario that started this proper etiquette thread here though stated we already insisted on eating earlier or bringing our own food and the host insisted on neither and that they would prepare safe food for us. Therefore with that setting posing the question what do we do in that particular situation when we see our food being prepared in a highly cross contaminated kitchen is where I suggested what I would do. I'm sure early on we all came across this scenario. After years of mastering our circumstances and exposure to situations like this of course we would never be put in a situation like this. But again, in keeping with the scenario posted and in the context of what this thread was suggested to be used as for future new comers, a reference guide to proper etiquette for us Celiac's, is why I responded and posted what I did.

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    Guest Marisha

    Posted

    What one might do would be affected so much by the moment... how comfortable you are with that particular friend, how the hostess is in that moment...relaxed or stressed from her party efforts, etc.  Given the scenario as written, if I was in that situation, I would politely decline the dressing (my friend wouldn't have asked me to read the label if she didn’t want confirmation one way or the other.) I would not say anything at the party about any of the other food, unless pressed by direct relentless inquiry.  I would seek out the one safe thing I could eat (lettuce with no dressing,whole veggies, etc?) and eat that, I would allow the chicken on my plate, but pick at it and not eat it.  I would raise the topic with my friend at another nonparty time, so as to not create awkwardness for my friend in the moment. OR, I would profusely apologize (and thank her for her kindness and efforts) and tell her that it was my bad that i forgot to tell her that my chicken would have to be grilled on separate aluminum foil not touching other gluten foods.  It was my bad afterall, not to think of telling her that important detail.  I’d humbly explain that this is a learning curve for me figuring out how to communicate all the gluten-free prep details to others.  Next time, i would tell my friend that i have a new policy of bringing my own to anyone’s gathering, because it’s not really fair to put so much on them for proper gluten-free food prep, when it takes so long for a gluten-free person to learn it themselves. (This approach works for me and I do believe it’s a relief to my friends.)

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    Guest Arnette

    Posted

    I am celiac and get caught in this situation frequently at work events. I no longer trust the "We can make this gluten-free" from a restaurant or hotel caterer because they don't understand cross contamination. So I'm resigned to bringing my own food and discreetly having it put on a plate at the event. It works.

    I did missionary work in foreign countries and was always admonished to "eat what was put before me" but that was before I knew I was celiac and needed to be gluten-free. (Yikes, cobra and rice!) Today, I would have to make sure gluten-free was understood and would have to come to some understanding. People don't mean to be thoughtless about this - they just don't understand!

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    Guest DaveKD

    Posted

    I ran afoul of my own self-assurances.  I visited a friend who is fully aware of what gluten-free means as I am not her only friend eating gluten-free.  I assured myself that she would only put in front of me a version that I could eat.  Not wanting to second guess her, I ate it.  About half way through my ice cream and brownies she draws a quick breath and says that she totally forgot my gluten sensitivity.  I could have asked... it's on me... but I'd told myself I was in a safe house and that whatever was served would accomodate me.  Sigh... We can't be sure... even among friends.

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  • About Me

    Jean Duane, Alternative Cook, LLC produces instructional DVDs (Chocolate, Mexican, Italian and Kids' Meals), video streams (alternativecook.com) Bake Deliciously! Gluten and Dairy Free Cookbook and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten Free Cooking Cookbook. She shows how to cook without gluten, dairy and other food-allergens. Ms. Duane has produced several spots for Comcast's Video on Demand, made television appearances on PBS and has been a featured speaker at two International Association for Culinary Professionals' Conferences and at the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America's International Conference. She has developed recipes for Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cooking Cookbook, for Beautiful Sweets bakery and was featured in Better Homes and Gardens special Christmas Cookies. Jean Duane is a certified chef, has an MBA and is pursuing a PhD at the University of Denver focusing on the social aspects of food. A regular cooking instructor, speaker and magazine writer, she won Kiplinger's "Dream in You" contest in 2006.

  • Related Articles

    Danna Korn
    Dealing with Denial by Danna Korn
    This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2005 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity.
    You’ve all heard the joke proclaiming that “denial is not a river in Egypt.”  No, it’s not.  What it is, though, is a very real issue for many, if not most people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  There are a couple of types of denial—the first type affects us—while the other type affects those around us.
    When We’re in Denial
    Many people who are diagnosed—or when their kids are—go through some type of denial.  It usually occurs at a few key times after diagnosis—and for a few different reasons, here are some examples:

    Immediate denial—the diagnosis isn’t right.  Nope.  Couldn’t be.  I don’t know anyone who has that.  I don’t even know what gluten is.  I’ve never heard of celiac disease.  I don’t have symptoms…my symptoms are mild.  It’s just lactose intolerance, I’m sure.  I don’t have diarrhea, so I couldn’t have that.  I’m overweight, and all celiacs are skinny.  My results were inconclusive.  Someone must have made a mistake.  All of these thoughts can be symptoms of denial. A few weeks into the diet—I don’t think that diagnosis was right.  This is when the reality of doing this for the rest of your life sets in.  One angel (the good one, of course) sits on one shoulder whispering, “You know you need to stay gluten-free—keep it up—you can do it! Mmmm, yummy cheese on this gluten-free toast.  The other shoulder is home to the Devil-in-Denial: “No way are you going to another happy hour and order wine and celery sticks while all the other guys are drinkin’ beer and deep-fried stuff.  You don’t have no stinkin’ intolerance.  Come on—just one beer...and one piece of pizza.  It won’t hurtcha.  No stinkin’ intolerance…”  This is really just a period of ambivalence, hoping beyond hope that you don’t really have this condition, choosing to lean toward believing you don’t. Danger zone:  I never had that.  The most dangerous type of denial occurs several months into the diet, when all of a sudden you realize you feel so good that you don’t even remember the last time you felt bad.  That’s when people often think, “I knew I just needed a little bit of time to get over that bug I had!  I feel great.  I’ll bet I never even had anything wrong with me.”
    When Others are in Denial
    Then there’s the type of denial that our family members and loved ones express.  Ask anyone who is gluten intolerant or has been diagnosed with celiac disease if they have relatives who won’t be tested, and chances are, you’ll get a surprised look as though you just guessed what color of underwear they’re wearing, and a “yeah, how did you know?”  Because we all have them.  Well, most of us do.  Why is it so hard for our relatives to believe they might have this?  It is, after all, one of the most common genetic diseases one can have—and it does run in the family.  Yet we’ve all heard comments like:
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    Get properly tested. Get a second (or third) opinion. Talk to other people who have been diagnosed with the same condition about your symptoms and your feelings of denial (chances are they’ll grin and say, “Yep, I felt that way at one point, too”). Write it down: List your symptoms, the symptoms of the condition, and how you feel if you’ve been following the diet.  Sometimes seeing it in writing is the just the proof you need.
    Denial, by the way, is one of the most compelling arguments in support of proper testing and diagnosis.  If you’ve been confirmed with a diagnosis, you may be tempted to fall into a state of denial, but it’s going to seem pretty silly, even to you.But also keep in mind that if you’ve been tested and your results were inconclusive or negative, you may need to consider re-testing or other alternatives.  The tests have changed over the years, and maybe your tests were done long ago.  There are also false negatives; and you can be triggered at any point in your life, so just because you were negative once doesn’t mean you’ll be negative again.  And finally, there are people who are negative on all of the tests, yet their health improves dramatically on a gluten-free diet.  Go figure.
    Remember, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s most likely a duck, even if you wish it were a pigeon.


    Danna Korn
    Talking to Others About the Gluten-Free Diet by Danna Korn
    This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2003 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity.
    Celiac.com 11/19/2010 - “To talk to someone who does not listen is enough to tense the devil.” – Pearl Bailey
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    Attitudes Are Contagious
    When you’re talking with other people about your diet, especially close family members who will be “in this” with you for the rest of your life and who may also someday learn they must go gluten-free, remember that attitudes are contagious.  If you give the impression that this diagnosis has ruined your life, and that the diet is worse than astronaut food, others will feel that way, too.
    First, these things aren’t true, even if it seems that way at first.  Second, you don’t want your husband, wife, or kids to feel this way, especially if they’re the ones on the diet.  Be careful what you say. Even when they appear to be tuned out, kids and spouses hear what you’re saying.  Feelings can be hurt, and lasting impressions can be made.  Portray a positive attitude about the diet if you can; you may even find it rubs off on yourself.
    Everyone’s a Doctor
    Before you begin talking to people about your medical condition, you should know that nearly everyone, regardless of education (or lack thereof), is a doctor.  Especially when it comes to gastrointestinal distress, a subject that nearly everyone on the planet is at least vaguely familiar with.
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    Complete understanding (0.1%):  These people will listen intently as you discuss villi, bowel movements, gluten, and modified food starch, barely moving a muscle as they hang on your every word, taking careful notes so as not to poison you at your next get-together.  These saints have also been known to hang flyers in their kitchens, listing safe and forbidden foods in case you drop by for an unexpected visit.  Worship the ground these people walk on, because they’re few and far between. Pseudo-understanding (they think they get it but they don’t) (0.9%): These people are easily identifiable, because they nod much too quickly when you explain the situation to them.  Staccato-type nodding of the head is usually accompanied by rapid-fire successive affirmative phrases such as, “Uh-huh, sure, mm-hmm, yep, gotcha, sure, yep, of course, mm-hmm.”  Don’t burst their bubble; these people are used to knowing everything, and usually can’t be told otherwise.  I recommend that you bring your own food to get-togethers with these people. Absolute and unveiled lack of interest and concern (4.0%): Gotta hand it to ’em, these folks are honest.  Don’t try to push a rope. Desire is there, but they just don’t get it (95.0%): These people mean well, but either don’t have the ability or don’t want to take the time to understand.  Don’t be annoyed, offended, or otherwise put off.  Their attitude can’t change the fact that you feel a lot better now that you’ve eliminated wheat or gluten, and that’s what really counts.  Don’t disown them (especially because most of your friends and family will fall into this category), and don’t berate them, either.  Your diet isn’t their concern, even if you think they should care more than they appear to.
    When Those Closest to You Just Don’t Get It
    Obviously, dealing with this last (and vast) category is difficult.  Already you’re saddled with the extra responsibilities and challenges inherent to the diet, and it may not sit well with you that some of the people closest to you are those who put forth the least effort to understand.  We expect family and friends to support us, show concern, offer assistance, and make things that are important to us important to them, yet often it is exactly those people who disappoint us the most.In this situation, we have the additional challenge of dealing with the fact that we’re around them frequently, and food is often a part of social situations.  Trusting them to provide foods that are safe, or worse yet, dealing with the anger and resentment when they don’t even bother, can test the most solid of relationships.
    If they just don’t get it because they’re simply not capable, forgive them and move on. Some people are set in their ways, and others are intellectually incapable of grasping the intricacies of the diet.  Be aware and be prepared with your own foods when getting together.
    When loved ones are capable but just don’t want to bother taking the time to learn about the diet and your condition, you may experience feelings of hostility and resentment.  It’s okay to be mad, but don’t wallow in the anger; it serves no purpose, and will provide you no benefit, because they’re not going to change, and you can’t force them to want to care.
    It’s important to avoid falling into the role of the victim.  You may have some serious medical conditions, and you could be getting some sort of reinforcement from feeling victimized, both by the condition and the people around you.  It gets you nowhere, except into a rut of negativity.
    People who just don’t get it aren’t going to suddenly show interest in you, your condition, and the diet. Just as they don’t have to cater to your diet, you don’t need to cater to their insensitivity and thoughtlessness.  Forgive them for their lack of sensitivity, their narcissism, and their indifference (but unless you want to start a family feud, do it in your heart rather than out loud), and move on.  They may be sensitive, generous, caring people in many ways, or maybe they’re not.  In either case, you can’t force them to care or learn about your condition or diet, and as frustrating as it can be, your only choice is to accept that fact.  Don’t allow yourself to get mired in the negativity that their apathy can create, and don’t lower yourself to their level either by caring less about their situations.
    Need-to-Know Rating Criteria
    HIGH: Will these people prepare food for me?  If so, it’s important for them to understand which foods and ingredients are safe and which are forbidden.  If you can narrow it down for them, do so.  For instance, don’t go to a restaurant and ask them what they have that’s wheat or gluten-free and expect to get a good answer.  Instead, peruse the menu, and figure out what looks as though it is safe, or could be made wheat or gluten-free.  Then you can get into the intricacies of cooking procedures, contamination issues, and ingredients.
    Sometimes it’s easiest to explain your condition in terms of an allergy, even if your condition is celiac disease (which is not an allergy).  People understand, for instance, that peanut allergies can be severe, and even a little peanut can cause some people to have a serious reaction.  Sometimes it’s necessary to explain that you have a “severe toxic reaction” to wheat or gluten before people will take your condition seriously.  Otherwise, they may think that it’s okay just to pluck the croutons off the salad after the fact.
    MEDIUM: Are they asking out of curiosity or nosiness?  Most people who ask about your diet do so out of genuine curiosity rather than abject obnoxiousness.  Maybe they have dietary restrictions of their own, and wonder if yours are the same as theirs.  Maybe they’re nutritionists, or maybe they’re just genuinely curious.  In any case, don’t be offended, but don’t feel as though you have to give a dissertation on the advantages of a wheat or gluten-free diet either.  Offer as much information as you’re comfortable giving, and as much as it looks like they’re truly interested in hearing.
    A good response is usually generic at first, adding information as the listeners seem to want it.  “I have a condition that makes me unable to tolerate gluten, so I eat a gluten-free diet” is usually a good start. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.
    LOW: Do they warrant a response?  When the 16-year-old kid wearing a paper cap and taking your order at the drive-up window asks with a strong Valley Girl accent, “Like, what’s wrong with the bun, dude? How come you ordered, like, all your burgers without, like, the bun?” your best response is to bite your tongue.  No response is needed, unless you can muster a good, “Like, what-EVER, dude, I like ’em that way.”


    Courtney Buchanan
    Celiacs Feel Excluded from Social Life
    Celiac.com 01/21/2013 - At the end of a long day of class and meetings, Morgan Hembarsky loved to come home to her four roommates eagerly awaiting her to cook their weekly meal together. Immediately when she walked through the door the most important thing to talk about was food, conversation could wait. Was it pasta with marinara and veggies or chicken Parmesan with warm rolls night? "We try to have dinner together at least once a week to catch up," said Hembarsky, a senior at Lehigh University.
    The women sat down to a warm meal together and gossiped about their Lehigh University professors' bad jokes and the new romantic comedy in nearby Lehigh Valley theaters. Cooking and chatting: a girl's perfect way to unwind at the end of the day. But days of cooking with her roommates are gone. Early in the fall of 2011 after months of stomach pain, Hembarsky visited a doctor and received the answer to her suffering.
    The culprit, celiac disease, which is a condition in which one's body cannot digest gluten and eating it damages the small intestine. Because many of the foods Hembarsky and her friends often used to make contained gluten, like pasta and bread, that meant no more pasta nights with her friends. In October 2011 she gave up foods with gluten, the killer protein found in many grains and flours. Being diagnosed with celiac forced a change to the social calendar. "It's something you learn to live with and you learn what healthy decision you need to make," said Hembarsky. Hembarsky is not alone. For many celiacs in Bethlehem, social opportunities are hindered by dietary restrictions such as not being able to eat a hamburger bun or drink beer at a tailgate because they have gluten. Instead of going out with friends, they cook individualized meals at home. Now with more people being diagnosed as gluten-intolerant or celiac – in fact one out of 133 people in the United States is affected by celiac disease, according to the celiac disease Foundation – the choices of where to buy groceries and whether one should go to a restaurant taking the chance of feeling like a burden are at the forefront of people's minds.
    Take Tabitha Echavarria, a senior at Lehigh University, who was diagnosed with celiac last July 1. "The biggest change in my life has been taking charge of my diet," said Echavarria. "I know 100 percent of the ingredients of everything I eat because I most likely made it from scratch. I never eat anything without asking what is in it. " Echavarria said senior year of high school she experienced persistent migraines, numb feet, chest pain and stomach aches – symptoms that other celiacs often suffer as well. After constantly changing her diet hoping to find the trigger to the pain and receiving negative blood tests, she visited every doctor she could find. "The previous year I had cut out bread from my diet ‘cause I knew something was wrong," said Echavarria. "Then eventually I just really couldn't eat ever and went to like every different doctor available to figure it out. " Now on a Friday night when her rugby teammates go out to hibachi or Sal's starving for a delicious meal, Echavarria makes herself dinner beforehand so she can still tag along to the restaurant. Going to meals with friends is no longer about the eating, it's about the company. While Echavarria still goes out to restaurants for the social aspect, other celiacs avoid eating out as much as possible.
    Three weeks ago, Andrew Bench was sitting at his desk at King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul Law Firm in Bethlehem, Pa. , with a stomach ache when he decided to stop eating out as much as possible because of the potential cross contamination. He said many restaurants in the Lehigh Valley have cross contamination even though the waiters told him that the kitchens were being careful. Flash back to when he was diagnosed as celiac a year ago. He described the feeling as a concussion mixed with sinus pressure. Cross contamination could result in the same thing, or worse. Bench recommends Tapas on Main on North Side as a safe gluten-free option. Echavarria likes Red Robin for their protein-style burgers and La Lupita for the corn-based options while Hembarsky prefers salads at Bravo and sushi at Asian Bistro.
    While restaurants are introducing gluten-free menus, Bench said that one slip-up in the kitchen can mean hours of stomach pain. Echavarria recalled getting sick after ordering eggs, a naturally gluten-free dish, at a restaurant. Later she found out that the eggs had pancake batter in them. Restaurants may not think about the danger to celiacs by adding gluten to a naturally gluten-free food. "I think what I am most looking forward to in the future is restaurant activism," said Echavarria. "I would just like to have the option of eating with my friends knowing I'm not going to get sick or that I'm not annoying the people that work there. "The Lehigh Valley is embracing the gluten-free movement, slowly but surely.
    Wegmans, Giant Food and ShopRite have gluten-free aisles that provide a wide range of options. As he was giving granola samples at Wegmans, Calvin Virgillo, operations and sales at The Granola Factory, recognized a need for gluten-free, nut-free granola, which will be available in 2013. "It doesn't matter how good our granolas if there are people who won't buy it because they're gluten free or have a nut allergy," said Virgillo. With increasing options of places to purchase groceries and dine out, the community is recognizing the gap for this niche market of gluten-free consumers. A day will come when gluten-free diners won't have to worry about missing out on social life because of their diets. Until then, Hembarsky must deal with biting into a dry, hard piece of bread and baking her own treats when she wants to socialize with her roommates. "I think bread is the hardest to be gluten-free because it [the gluten-free version] doesn't taste like bread, but a majority of them aren't that great and they come frozen," said Hembarsky. "But everything else, I feel like you don't have to sacrifice at all. "

    Jean Duane
    The Media Encourages Negative Social Behavior Towards Gluten-Free Dieters
    Celiac.com 01/11/2018 - Gluten-free, food allergies and celiac disease have reached the media in the form of jokes and ridicule. This is a serious development because the media influences viewer's day-today reactions to various social situations. In many ways, TV becomes a role model for social interactions. DeVault (1991) says that "an enormous body of science, literature and even humor tells us how a middle-class man and woman might 'do' family life" (p. 16). This is the fundamental reason why the media jabs about gluten-free and food allergies are so impactful. What we see on TV, we emulate in life. If 'doing gluten free' is something to be ridiculed, as with the examples below, then those of us with food allergies need to unite our voices to be heard in public forums to change this practice.
    An example of food-allergy ridicule is found in a scene in The Smurfs 2 when the unctuous "Corndog King" presents every child at a birthday party with a corn-dog. A concerned parent asks if the corn-dogs contain peanuts, and he says, "No, I would never use peanuts." Meanwhile, a little boy is shown eating the corn-dog just as the Corndog King recalls that they are fried in peanut oil. The parents rush to the little boy urging him to spit it out. Here is the snippet:
    . I think the producers thought this incident was funny. Newsflash: It isn't. This scene has been criticized on various blog sites as making light of allergies, but one criticism from a parent of a child who recently died from inadvertently eating peanuts is especially poignant. The parent said scenes like this are not funny, nor entertaining. Scenes of this nature on TV undermine the consequences of food allergies.As much as I love Frankie and Grace, the game that the siblings played in Season 3, Episode 1, called "Bud's Super Needy Girlfriend Game" is offensive. It shows them eavesdropping as Allison, Bud's girlfriend, talks about her allergies to a stranger at the art show. With each statement Allison makes, such as, "it is easier to tell you what I am not allergic to," the group takes a shot of liquor. Allison says, "and that's when I realized I have celiac disease" and the siblings laugh and take another shot. This goes on for several rounds. The siblings ridicule Allison's allergies and maladies in a very uncompassionate way, setting an example for viewers on how to respond when there is a person in the crowd who has allergies. In another episode, when Allison faints, the reaction from the siblings is, "…she always has to be the center of attention. She conjures up some kind of illness. But there's a name for it, 'Fictitious disorder.'" (For a transcript of this and similar scenes, please check out: http://thewalkingallergy.com/2017/08/grace-and-frankie-i-bet-allison-has-mcas/). These responses to Allison's physical malaise are callous and may encourage copycat behavior in real life situations.
    Humans are easily influenced, starting from infancy when they imitate their parents (McCall, Parke & Kavanaugh, 1977) and continue to be guided by what they view in the media, especially on TV. Ramasubramanian (2010) conducted a study to discover how stereotypes of laziness and criminality changed as a result of reflecting on TV depictions of racial/ethnic groups by white viewers (p. 109) and concludes that the ways these scenes influence opinions and attitudes is worrisome (p. 106), perpetuating stereotypes and prejudice. A study conducted by Tan and Kinner (1982) found that interracial children who watched a TV program showing cooperative, positive behavior, yielded "pro-social" (p. 654) social interactions, when compared with a control group. The impact of what is viewed on TV and how it translates to social (or anti-social behavior) has been validated. Humans imitate what they see. Similar to how racial stereotyping is reinforced by the media, so are people with food allergies who become the butt of jokes. The media is teaching unacceptable social norms disguised as humor.
    Disney's episode of Quitting Cold Koala (edited out after parents complained, but still on YouTube in a home-video snippet) shows the character named Stuart (who has a "five page list of dietary problems" according to his nanny) sitting at the breakfast table with other children. He is a cute little boy who wears glasses cocked awkwardly on his nose. He told the cook that he couldn't eat pancakes that contained gluten only to be attacked by other children throwing gluten-containing pancakes in his face! Here it is on:
    . Stuart reacts the way anyone would who has celiac disease. He says, "That's gluten!" and frantically tries to wipe it off his face. I agree with the person who put the video of it on YouTube. This is not "remotely funny. Depending on how sensitive Stuart is, he may have had to suffer through a reaction because of those mean kids. And though this segment was deleted from the final cut of the episode, several people captured videos of it so it remains on the Internet for anyone to see. It sets a sad, and arguably violent standard for how to treat the child that has special dietary needs. Huesmann and Taylor (2006) found that violent behavior on TV poses "a threat to public health inasmuch as it leads to an increase in real-world violence and aggression" (p. 393). Violence toward someone with food allergies, such as throwing pancakes at the person who has just declared they are sensitive to gluten is an example of how behavior seen on TV could be re-enacted in real-life.How do scenes like the three examples above translate into our everyday social interactions? Does the waiter who watches a scene on a sit-com ridiculing someone with food allergies doubt the customer the next day as she orders a gluten-free meal? Does the waiter play a derivation of the "Needy Game" seen on Frankie and Grace and have a shot of liquor in the back room with his waiter-buddies for every customer that orders a special meal? Ridicule in the media completely undermines the severity of celiac disease, and other food-related illnesses.
    I experienced a situation the may have been influenced by commercial programming recently while ordering at a restaurant. I special-ordered my salad, deliberately sitting on the end of the table and explaining to the waiter that I needed to ensure it was gluten and dairy free. I spoke quietly, but since there were only two others at the table, unfortunately the conversation stopped during ordering and the others heard me. The waiter rolled his eyes when I gave him my order, and moved on to the next person who said, "I'll take the salad 'regular' with all the fixings" in a kind of a sarcastic way that belittled my order. My dinner was spoiled because I was irked with my dinner companion, and because I was skeptical of the food I was served. This kind of slight happens all the time, and is likely because of the role models depicted on TV and other media that portrays that it is it socially acceptable to mock the person with special needs.
    It is hard to understand why food sensitivities trigger so much negativity. If someone says they have heart disease, they are taken seriously. Other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimotos, and diabetes are met with seriousness, but gluten-sensitivities seem to be a charged 'trigger' reaction, that I believe has been perpetuated by the media. People ordering in a restaurant seem to be challenged by the waiter – scrutinized whether it is an 'allergy,' 'autoimmune response' or 'fad diet.' When did waiters have the prerogative to make that kind of decision? Where did this 'right' come from? I believe the media has perpetuated these attitudes.
    Nobody with special needs should endure scrutiny or ridicule. I'm frankly glad for the publicity gluten has received because it has enhanced awareness, but I am discouraged about how the media seems to think celiac disease, gluten intolerance and food allergies are a joke. Here is our call to action: When we see something offensive in the media ridiculing food allergies, we need to say something in a public forum to bring attention to this unacceptable portrayal of people with food sensitivities. Please post on social media, or on Celiac.com to create a buzz that this type of ridicule/humor is unacceptable. Perhaps by doing this, we can influence positive changes.
    And on another subject… the winners from the survey.
    A couple of months ago, a survey studying the impact of food sensitivities on adults living together offered a $25 gift card to Amazon to four lucky winners. Those are: Morgan, Angela, David and Tricia. (Winners have been notified and gift cards were sent via email.) Congratulations! And thank you for your participation in the study.
    References
    DeVault, M. L. (1991). Feeding the family: The social organization of caring as gendered work. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Huesmann, L. R., & Taylor, L. D. (2006). The role of media violence in violent behavior. Annual Rev. of Public Health (27), 393-415. McCall, R. B., Parke, R. D., Kavanaugh, R. D., Engstrom, R., Russell, J, and Wycoff, E. (1977). Imitation of live and televised models by children one to three years of age. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 42(5), 1-94. Tan, A. S., Kinner, D. (1982). TV role models and anticipated social interaction. Journalism Quarterly 59(4), 654-656.

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