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megsbaby

Am I Being Too Controlling?

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Here's some background...I just don't know if I am being oversensitive or ??? (sorry for the long post)

My husband was diagnosed with DH a few years ago (just after we were married) but took him a while to get committed to a gluten-free diet and lifestyle. It has been about a month of gluten-free for him. We celebrated our anniversary with friends and all were very accomodating with his dietary needs. I am also completely gluten-free in support of him (and pretty much because I do all the cooking and I don't feel like cooking one meal, cleaning up and then cooking another). When we first started our gluten-free lifestyle we were invited out for dinner to his parent's place. He warned them in advance that he was gluten-free and would appreciate if none of the food would be prepared with any gluten or same utensils etc. He even said, if in doubt ask first or leave it out. They are his parents - you'd think they wouldn't care. My FIL slathered BBQ sauce all over my husband's steak on the grill. He couldn't eat it because the sauce had wheat and malt vinegar in it. My MIL was livid when I got up from the table to read the ingredients on the BBQ sauce bottle. She said it was rude and that I was implying that they don't know how to take care of their son. She said that he doesn't need me to tell them what he can and cannot eat. I just broke down and cried. I don't understand why a mother would react that way about her son's health?? My DH told my MIL that he relies on me to read the ingredients while he is still learning what is okay and what isn't. He is learning, but maybe not as fast as I am. She calmed down a bit but it still hurts.

The really sad thing about all of this is that even now, weeks later both my MIL and FIL say that I am a control freak over this. I guess they forget what it was like when he was a kid growing up with terrible itchy skin and leisions. They didn't take him to a doctor. They were smart enough to realize it was a food allergy but instead of getting him tested or going to a doctor or anyone they just put him on a potato diet. I guess all he ate for months on end was potatoes. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it.

For those who are family/friends of those with celiac or DH, do you ever get these types of reactions from outsiders who think you are trying to be overbearing or controlling when you help loved ones make wise gluten-free food choices?? I never thought I would encounter this type of attitude but I wonder if its just the start...

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You didn't do anything wrong.

Some people are ignorant. His parents sound incredibly naive and ignorant (though this is not all that shocking...unfortunately).

Take the higher road. Attempt to educate if you can, otherwise, hold your ground, be strong and be the better person.

Hope this helps...

BB

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Actually I thought you were too patient. My in-laws really don't try to understand what I can or cannot have so therefore I either take my food with me when I visit or just eat a "safer" meal out. I understand your frustration and it seems as though this situation is usually the rule rather than the exception. If they really want you and your husband to visit more often then they should make the effort to adjust their lifestyle on occasion.

Tom

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You are NOT being overly sensitive or controlling....you are doing a WONDERFUL job of helping your dh to deal with his celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. I applaud all that you've done for him....he's a lucky man. As far as your in-laws go, the truth of the matter is that they *don't* know how to feed or take care of their son. It sounds as though their reaction was tinged with guilt to me....subconscious guilt perhaps, but on some level, they've got to know that they blew it with him (a potato diet?) You just keep doing what you're doing, and try, as best you can, to ignore their ignorance and their narrow minded judgements. My in-laws have really shown their rear ends since my dd was diagnosed, and then when my ds and I went gluten-free as well. I ended up drawing a line in the sand with my m-i-l and it turned into an ugly confrontation, but she hasn't criticized me or questioned me about our diet since, so it was worth it. I think if I just keep holding my "party line" (no gluten, no questions, thank you) they'll eventually come around. Good luck to you, and hang in there. It really sounds like you're doing a terrific job of helping your dh!

Rho

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No way, you weren't too controlling at all! I agree with the two guys here, you did what you needed to do to keep your husband safe. Which really shouldn't be necessary with his own parents, who should care more and know better. Would they have been happier if they would have caused him to be sick and break out in DH again?

In fact, they were incredibly rude and insensitive to both you and your husband. And apparently, no, they are no good at looking after him, so, somebody has to do it!

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I agree with what everyone said. And I wanted to point out that sometimes it can take a Really Long Time for parents to let go of their parental roles (and the feeling of control parenting gives them). It took my MIL forever-and-a-half to stop buying underwear for my husband. I mean geez!

I can't understand why, but it's really common for people to get all out of emotional whack over food. But you're doing the right thing, so take no prisoners!! Your in-laws will get the message.

I hope it's just a phase and please know that lots of us have been there!

-Shannon

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You definitely weren't being too controlling. Your support is huge for your husband. It sucks when family doesn't get it but you're the most important person in his life and the fact that you are so involved in helping him stay healthy is great.

I'm not sure why his parents would act in such a way. Maybe they are in denial that their lack of action when he was a child resulted in him being sick much longer than he should have been. Hopefully they get over it but either way, don't change what you are doing. You, and not his parents, are the main person in his life now. If you haven't already, maybe let them know about some of the scary long term consequences that can occur if he eats gluten. If that doesn't make them smarten up, I don't know what will.

Speaking from experience, a supportive partner is the greatest thing in the world. Keep on being a great spouse.

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IMHO, you are being too sensitive, but not too controlling. You and your husband have a system that works for you both. That is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. They don't get anything in it but to accept it. Period. Well, I suppose they are allowed to offer their opinion, to which you should listen and think about it in its context (rather than crying), and then do as you see fit. That's it.

You can talk to your inlaws separately, if you like, to tell them that you do not appreciate their belittling comments, and that they can either accept the decisions you and your husband have made, or not partake in meals with the two of you, but that you will not tolerate them being rude and (emotionally) abusive towards either of you. And mean it. There's no reason not to stand up for yourself.

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IMHO, you are being too sensitive, but not too controlling. You and your husband have a system that works for you both. That is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. They don't get anything in it but to accept it. Period. Well, I suppose they are allowed to offer their opinion, to which you should listen and think about it in its context (rather than crying), and then do as you see fit. That's it.

You can talk to your inlaws separately, if you like, to tell them that you do not appreciate their belittling comments, and that they can either accept the decisions you and your husband have made, or not partake in meals with the two of you, but that you will not tolerate them being rude and (emotionally) abusive towards either of you. And mean it. There's no reason not to stand up for yourself.

Well put, Tiffany.

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thank you all for your replies. I feel more positive about the role I am playing in helping my husband to feel better and I take all the suggestions to heart...and hope that it will improve over time.

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I agree with what others have said, but I also think that his parents must be feeling some pangs of guilt (even if they are not showing it) and were probably embarrassed when they didn't think to read the ingredients on the bbq sauce. (You expect gluten in bread, crackers, but bbq sauce, not an obvious thing, especially for people who are new to it)

So I agree that they were totally insensitive and wrong to take their emotions out at you, and you didn't do anything wrong, you saved your husband from some nasty hives, but I also know how badly my parents felt when they wanted me to eat at their home and I couldn't. (I have a Scilian mother and it nearly broke her heart to know that I cannot eat most of her food.)

PS - I am mondo jealous that you are being so amazing for your husband! I would KILL for an extra set of eyes and a personal label reader! You are awesome!

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I feel the same way sometimes when family members are cooking for her. I don't quite trust that they know was gluten-free really means and I usually do check labels on the bottles and such things when other people have cooked for us. Sometimes hubby will call me the gluten-Nazi but I don't care. It's just not worth it if my daughter gets sick.

Part of the problem, though, is unless you're living gluten-free every day, little things like BBQ sauce and utensils might not occur to them and everyone has a different learning curve.

My step-MIL still doesn't believe that just the tiniest bit of gluten will trigger a reaction just as eating a slice of bread would which makes it very, very scary to eat at her house (although she recently bought a gluten-free cookbook and gluten-free for Dummies which was big progress compared to the last time we ate with them).

All in all I think it is better that you check those labels and step up and say something rather than just hoping for the best and end up with a sick hubby (or sick kid in my case). And you are an awesome awesome wife for going gluten-free with your husband to help him stay committed to the diet!

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It took my MIL forever-and-a-half to stop buying underwear for my husband. I mean geez!

:lol::lol::lol: I can't stop giggling over this, sorry!

Anyhoo, I agree with everyone else, Megsbaby, you are doing great by your hubby. Your MIL was rude and in a huff because she couldn't handle the fact that she may have screwed up. Shame on her - her pride was more important than her son's health.

BTW, Buffettbride-- I, too, have been labeled the gluten Nazi! Especially by my best friend's husband- a couple weeks ago, he accused me of trying to rid the world of gluten. I smiled at the idea ;)

-Sarah

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they've got to know that they blew it with him (a potato diet?)

Been there done that one! :( That must have been the popular thing at that time.

That is when you are so reactive that your body goes whacko no matter what you eat. Potatoes are the gentlest to deal with (unless you have issues with them) until your body settles.

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Megsbaby, I read about behavior like this in a book called Toxic Parents. It's a very good book for anyone who has to deal with controlling or abusive parents, whether they're yours or not. Even if it doesn't change anything, it helps you understand what's going on so you can be less bothered by it.

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The first thing that popped into my head was, what was your husband doing while all this was going on? I mean, he's the one that laid down the ground work for the meal, I hope he was in there supporting you when you took the heat. If not... follow his lead. If he's taking responsibility for his dietary needs, and it sounds like he is, then he should be the one checking the labels and standing up to his parents.

I don't think what you did was wrong, it was very nice and thoughtful, but they are his parents and he's got to be the one standing up to them and educating them.

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Part of the problem, though, is unless you're living gluten-free every day, little things like BBQ sauce and utensils might not occur to them and everyone has a different learning curve.

My step-MIL still doesn't believe that just the tiniest bit of gluten will trigger a reaction just as eating a slice of bread would which makes it very, very scary to eat at her house (although she recently bought a gluten-free cookbook and gluten-free for Dummies which was big progress compared to the last time we ate with them).

All in all I think it is better that you check those labels and step up and say something rather than just hoping for the best and end up with a sick hubby (or sick kid in my case). And you are an awesome awesome wife for going gluten-free with your husband to help him stay committed to the diet!

I agree.

...it does seem that people who don't have to deal with the problem often don't understand that even a tiny amount can cause a reaction. Unless you live in a household and see what it does to a person's health to eat wheat, it's also probably hard to imagine that celiac can create so much difficulty.

How old are your parents-in-law? Knowledge about prepared food content can vary from generation to generation. My elders certainly take it on faith that anything they get on the shelves is OK because it's been prepared in a sanitary way and the FDA has OKed it. I think label-checking, whether by celiacs or anyone else, is a recent habit.

( :o Interesting I just checked: while labeling foods has been required for some time, it was only in 1990-1992 that the fuller labels showing preservatives were universally required...)

Even after explaining umpteen times to relatives before I came for a visit that I don't eat wheat or other grains in any form, what did they serve but a nice stuffed chickenbreast rolled in breadcrumbs. They did, however, carefully serve it over rice and didn't have bread on the table.

Some of it is learning curve.

Sometimes there's only so far that you can go with people, though...I'm getting so that I just say "no, thanks," without the explanation, whenever I can. And I do pass on what I'm not sure of.

There's this "aha" moment that happens sometimes too, when people who know me and about the wheat, get an unexplained "no thanks" and then look with eyes that get big at whatever it is, say one of those battered onion blossoms in restaurants, and discover that it has wheat in it. I really don't think people notice

I don't know how you could have fended off the sauce on that steak, though, but maybe asking your PIL not to put any dressing or sauce on your husband's food from here forward, and let him choose what he wants would be a way to handle it.

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My mother in law @ 80 years old didn't understand the gluten free thing either... She thought if you cooked the food for a real, real long time and at a high temperature it would "kill" the gluten off.....oh but that's how she always cooked.....

Once we were invited to my sister in law's place for dinner and she was buttering Italian bread & eating it at the same time as peeling potatoes to make for dinner. There were bread crumbs all over the table, on her hands, etc.! But bread crumbs were going into the pot along with the diced potatoes. Her response was: when I pour out the water, the crumbs will come out too!

She added garlic on the meat (she was told not to do this, which my husband has a sensitivity to garlic too also) and said to him:

"It's only a little garlic, it shouldn't hurt you!! " He already told her beforehand that he needed the meat to be plain, no spices, no rubs, no marinades, no nothing. She's not old either, so I can't blame that.

Some people just don't have the intuition to handle special diets. Do not let them cook or prepare your food.

It is not rude to read the ingredient label. The host upon learning that a "food" mistake was made should humbly accept the info instead of arguing about it with you. They are probably angry at themselves for not realizing that gluten can be a component of a packaged food.

As to the "generation" who thinks that everything pre-prepared is "Ok" goes, that might be the case if the in-laws are elderly (70+); but people have been "ingredient conscious" since the late 1960's & 1970's when the push was "natural." Even now there's people of a certain age which read labels to find out if the food has too much sodium for their diet , sugar or fat; or MSG, or preservatives, etc.

In our situation we no longer eat meals at the in laws due to these prior situations. Again, they don't have the intuition to handle special diets. It's not their fault.

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Megsbaby, I read about behavior like this in a book called Toxic Parents. It's a very good book for anyone who has to deal with controlling or abusive parents, whether they're yours or not. Even if it doesn't change anything, it helps you understand what's going on so you can be less bothered by it.

Sorry to hijack... but I bought 4 copies of this book when I separated from my husband... I gave one to each of my kids and told them there was a chapter in there w/ their father's name on it and another w/ their grandmother's name on it... and gave one to my young friend and told her there was a chapter w/ her mom's name on it!!

Back to the subject at hand... So... his parents get mad at you for questioning how they feed their son... and the BBQ sauce has wheat in it?? They're doing a great job there.

Plus... I love the analogy I've read on here many times when people say, "Oh just a LITTLE wheat won't hurt you." Tell them to substitute rat poison (which is what wheat might as well be for us) for wheat and let's all have just a little!!

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