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jasonD2

France Trip A Disaster

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I just got back from my France trip and wish I could say I had a wonderful time but I didn't. I lost so much weight and had to take so much crap from my colleagues about not eating the food. A few places were able to cater to my needs but that was only for 4-5 meals..the rest of the time I was living off of nutrition bars, rice cakes and canned salmon just to survive. I also got gluten reactions so obviously the food i thought was safe was probably not. One night I had a severe breakdown..I was walking around Avignon which is a wonderful city with so many great restaurants and went into 10-15 restaurants...no one understood what I was asking and no one was able to accommodate my needs...even with the allergy cards I had. I went back to my hotel and had a serious panic attack and cried myself to sleep...this is no exaggeration.

im starting to have major reservations about my job& career. i went into sales because i needed a major change and found something I truly love, however, the traveling is taking its toll on me physically and emotionally ..to the point where I just cant handle it any more. this trip stressed me out so much that i was unable to prepare for an important presentation i had to give to my company. as a result I completely messed it up and embarassed myself.

I really think I need antidepressants or something cause I am having a lot of difficulty dealing with life now. My parents have been on vacation & my mother called to check in on me and I upset her so much and now shes worried about me.

i just dont know what to do

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I am sorry to hear your trip wasn't great Jason. Other people with celiac seem to be able to travel, although some us do run into problems also. It's always harder when you don't speak the language. Now that you are back home you can get back in gear though, get back on track, and get to feeling better. I hope you feel better soon!

Did you get to see some pretty Parisian women on the street? :)

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You might consider not pharmaceuticals, but rather working with a therapist who can help you learn and develop coping skills. Based on my own experiences and what I've heard from others, I honestly think that part of your difficulty with the diet (especially during travel) is how you are approaching it. While I could say "you have to do your research ahead of time, even if it takes three weeks before the trip" or "you need to stick up for yourself and find places that have kitchens you can cook in", it seems that may or may not be specific enough for your situation. What strikes me in your posts is that you don't talk about the many different ways you tried to overcome a problem presented to you - maybe just one or two things you try over and over again, whether they work or not. (And I don't mean this as "bad you" criticism. During times of stress, even the most creative of us do this. It is understandable, but something we should be aware of and work towards improving.)

A therapist (the right one) may be able to help you learn how to figure out coping mechanisms that work for you and skills for becoming more creative in solving these problems. Perhaps it's a change in attitude/confidence. Perhaps it's a modification in your job (that may mean a different company, but still doing the same type of work). Perhaps it's a change in communication style. Perhaps it's something else, or a combination of many things. But I'm guessing that someone working with you one on one at cognitive-behavior modification will be more help than any chemical will be. (And I say this having done both cognitive-behavior therapy as well as having been on an antidepressant. They are two different treatments, and work best for different things. The main symptoms may be similar, but the underlying issues between what the two each best treat are different.)

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I can relate. I am newly dx'ed (3 months) and haven't yet developed a grand repertoire of "tools" or coping skills to deal when I come across a difficult situation. I'll try a few times (i.e. different restaurants, asking different questions, etc.) but if that doesn't work out I become very discouraged, frustrated, upset, etc. and start feeling sorry for myself.

Sometimes we have very good reason to feel sorry for ourselves, or at least it's completely natural to do so, like when we are starving and can't for the life of us find something safe to eat. It becomes overwhelming because you realize that this is going to be a long-term struggle as you get better at planning ahead, finding safe foods, communicating your needs and advocating for yourself.

In times of clarity I can remind myself that it's not the end of the world, I will eventually find something to eat, and feeling sorry for myself won't help me to do so. In the moment, however, I can be very quick to become discouraged, throw my hands up in despair and just give up.

There are certainly neurological components of celiac disease and neurological effects of getting glutened (as you know), such as depression, mood swings, anxiety, etc. Most people feel better emotionally once they have successfully made their diet 100% gluten-free, and some require pharmacological intervention.

I do agree that talking to someone about the way we deal with adversity, bumps in the road, and major setbacks can be helpful. It's difficult enough to navigate our way through this gluten-filled world without making it more difficult for ourselves by the way we approach each obstacle we encounter.

Would it be possible for you to just take a few sick days or use up some vacation time? It might help to take a step back from your situation, wait until you start feeling better, and then evaluate. It's never a good idea to make decisions based on emotion or when feeling highly emotional.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck :) Keep us updated!

Jillian

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Sorry to hear about this. I woudn't even consider leaving the country anymore until they come out with a cross-contamilation pill. Travelling in the U.S. is difficult enough with Celiac. Even here, I have to find a hotel with a fridge and kitchen, and health food stores nearby.

I bought restaurant cards a few years ago and only used them once, at a luncheon in Alexandria, VA. I sent a copy of it to the manager weeks before the event and it was fine, all I had was chicken and salad. I just don't eat out anywhere that doesn't have a gluten free menu. It's too risky. Even some places with gluten-free options have seriously messed up my orders by including bread on top.

You can't safely eat out on a regualar basis, unless it's at gluten-free places. They don't even understand gluten-free in many hospital kitchens.

Celiac has a major learning curve. Very few restaurants can correctly prepare a gluten-free meal, without CC, etc.

I was considering going on antidepressants again (I used to take Zoloft), but am trying St. John's Wort. I've been taking this herb for three and a half weeks, but it's too early to know if it works for me. So far, I haven't noticed much difference.

My health is more important to me than a career. Therapy is for anxity and depression, not to heal your villi and cure you of Celiac. The bottom line is, as long as frequent travel is necessary, you're going to have to quit this job eventually.

Good luck.

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Maybe you can combine your talents together with your job frustrations and come up with a brand new plan: how about trying to get a sales job at a company that makes/distributes/produces gluten-free food? If anyone can be a rep for gluten-free products, it has to be you. What you describe as frustration about traveling, eating out, and dealing with food in general sounds to me like a guy who is really passionate about wanting to live his life to the fullest except that this gluten glitch keeps getting in the way. I bet you would be an awesome sales and marketing guy who could convince tons of grocery chains, restaurants, hotels and AIRLINES to carry really good gluten-free food. You could even have some influence with the creation of new food products aimed at helping celiacs travel with peace of mind.

I don't know which companies would be good for you to work at, but I would start at the very top: Kraft, etc. Don't look at their job listings because 'gluten-specialist' will not appear anywhere. They probably don't even know they need someone like you. That's why it would make sense to bypass the whole human resources department and go right to the marketing and sales department. Talk to anyone there. Ask them for 5 minutes of their time to listen to an idea you have. Then tell them you think they need to hire someone just like you (then list all your good sales/employment qualities) and tell them you can start ASAP.

And here's how I would start my conversation with everyone you encounter at the company:

"I was in France for 2 weeks, with a food expense account, and money ready to spend on all sorts of incredible food. And guess what? I ended up eating CANNED SALMON the whole time because I couldn't get gluten free food anywhere. I have celiac disease. And so do millions of other professionals around the world. And we all have money we are dying to spend on good food in convenient places like restaurants, airports, and hotels. This is an enormous market just waiting to be served. And I think I'm the guy who can help your company serve them in a significant way.

Then gather up your courage and say these words out loud: "When could we get together to talk about some of my ideas?"

If Kraft doesn't work, go to Coca-Cola, then Pepsi (they all have food divisions), Sara Lee, Lays, Unilever, and whatever big company is willing to talk.

Then let us know what happens. Because if you get into a company as a gluten-specialist...then lots of us here have some great ideas for food products!

Hope that gives you a bit of a new direction to try!

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I cant quit my job...if i do then it means ive been defeated and i will sink further into a deep depression & feel more useless than i already do. my career was going nowhere before this job and it changed my life, even though its been difficult with the food thing. i will never ever go back to an office job so its not even an option for me. just have to figure out a way to make it all work

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quitting your current job in no way means defeat if you're going to a job that is better for you. no one said you'd have to go back to an office job if you stop the job you're currently in. there are *all kinds* of options that are not office jobs. even sales/marketing jobs vary, and not all of them require travel. if it's the travel that makes you like the job, then you're going to have to become the master at odd-diet confidence and figuring out how to eat as safely as possible (and doing lots of research ahead - literally, I bring printouts of addresses and phone numbers with me).

the quickest way to actually be trapped is to trap yourself.

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:P

Desk job in marketing? No way. I was thinking more of someone who travels to gluten-free food conferences and conventions, getting to eat all sorts of gluten-free goodies, and knowing that if there's a breakfast meeting, or a lunch meeting or a christmas dinner, then it will definitely be gluten-free. And never will anyone ever roll their eyeballs when celiac disease is mentioned.

Okay, I have to stop now, because I'm making myself want this job!

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Jason what an awful experience! I can really relate after the hard time I had in France trying to find enough safe food too, since I have both gluten and dairy intolerance. They put dairy in everything! Discovered that the large markets had deli's with Middle Eastern choices + they had some items that had multi-language ingredient labels as many do here in the US. So, I ate often from what I could find in the markets. Otherwise, it was salads, cans of fish, and raw fruits and veggies + apple juice. I lost weight too, but some of it was from all the walking. None of the other countries we visited were as bad as France. Sure do wish you lots of luck with your job and having to travel with it. Hopefully, someone on the board will be able to guide you if you need to return to France anytime soon.

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Well, Jason, this isn't some little illness that you need to just 'get through' and then return to the life you had. This is the new you. You can sit around and distress yourself about how horrible things are, or you can look at your France trip (for example) and say "that totally sucked. What do I need to do make the next time be better?"

Do you need to learn to cook? Re-evaluate what you consider a meal? Plan on continual snacking so nibbling at a meal isn't such a big deal?

Slices of lunchmeat go well with most fruit.

Many veggies are quite tasty raw (and also do well with lunch meat)

Peanut butter, almond butter, other nut butters work with fruit slices

Avocados are filling

Why even consider restaurants? Dine out of the grocery store.

I spent 6 weeks in Italy and Eastern Europe living out of a backpack and somehow manged to survive. Yes, at least one meal consisted of potato chips and mysterious pickled veggies in a jar, but hey, you eat what you find.

To quote someone absolutely brilliant: "the quickest way to actually be trapped is to trap yourself."

Stop letting food control you. Take back your life.

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I cant quit my job...if i do then it means ive been defeated and i will sink further into a deep depression & feel more useless than i already do. my career was going nowhere before this job and it changed my life, even though its been difficult with the food thing. i will never ever go back to an office job so its not even an option for me. just have to figure out a way to make it all work

Jason, I'm only two months into the gluten free diet, and on the first two occasions of eating anything but home prepared food, I glutened myself. Once was at a family gathering, and the other time was at a work conference. This situation in my life is fairly new to me, and I've only confided with a couple of coworkers at this point - neither of whom attended this conference. So I made the mistake of gutening myself because I didn't want to draw attention to myself (or rather my diet) at this meeting.

I felt awkward enough at a meeting in my home city; I can't imagine traveling overseas.

Recently though, I had a very pleasant dining experience - see my post about Jonathon's in Ogunquit Me. This night out is a yearly tradition for a bunch of the gals from my workplace. (Dinner, and then off the to the Ogunquit Playhouse after!). It's something I normally look forward to because we all have so much fun together. This year I almost didn't go because I was leery of the whole restaurant thing.

So four days before going I looked up their menu online and studied it in the comfort and privacy of home.... I eliminated entrees that were obvious no-nos and made selections for appetizers, salad, entree and dessert. Then I contacted the restaurant and enquired if these selections were prepared in a gluten free manner. I was lucky because staff at this place were familiar with gluten free requirements. My contact even consulted with the chef. So I was able to go into the restaurant with complete comfort, and I didn't have to explain anything, I could just relax and have fun. Plus, having already selected my entree, I had more time to study the wine list! :lol:

This experience really increased my confidence. Maybe you could do a "practice run"? Either by yourself or with a comfortable friend, go out to eat, having studied the menu and consulted the place in advance?

I don't travel often for work, but the next time I'm assigned, I have a plan. As soon as know the location of our accomodations, I'm going to research ahead of time. First, by calling the hotel and asking for restaurant recommendations in their area. Then by looking up the restaurant on line, and studying their menu (more and more places post them these days). Then I will call or email them to get a feel for how gluten-familiar they are. That way, when its time to eat as a group, I will be able to make restaurant suggestions - and say these were recommended by the hotel.

I know coworkers often don't want to hear about - or deal with - somebody elses special dietary needs. There is another person at my workplace who has celiac's so I've been able to observe this first hand. They basically have chosen to completely avoid gatherings that involve food. I am hoping a proactive approach will work to keep me healthy and allow me to enjoy social events and travel successfully.

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Jason, I'm sorry that your trip to France didn't go well for you. I couldn't even imagine trying to tackle gluten-free in a foreign country. I can't successfully eat out here yet. I've read your posts through the last year and it seems you have learned a lot and gained some assertiveness for taking care of your health. If you are suspecting you need antidepressants, you may want to give them a try. I've tried many through the years and most have helped at least a little for my depression/anxiety. Then I found my magic bullet in Cymbalta. (every BODY is different). It keeps me in the normal range of happy, keeps muscle aches and pains down, and has few side effects. I know many people are against antidepressants, but I am all for them. My body needs that extra boost of neurotransmitters and all is well. Tr. y both a counselor and antidepressants. And if they are not right try another counselor or antidepressant. Many times insurance or docs will make you try the older less expensive meds (which can work just fine for some) before you get to the newer ones. Keep at it until you find the one that works for you and don't put up with side effects. The right balance is out there.

As far as the gluten, you have my sympathy. Working in an environment with gluten is difficult. I don't think you should give up what you love doing, but I hope you find a way to have more control over your working conditions as time and experience land on your side.

Best wishes to you.

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Sorry about your trip.

This has some old information about gluten-free in France just in case you go again. You should check out the suggestions online now to see what's still current.

Be sure to research your next area before you go so you have some idea of dinning places. I will say that during the 4 years I lived in Germany, France was my least favorite place. Seemed very unfriendly towards American citizens. We still had a blast and enjoyed the cultural differences.

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The quickest way to actually be trapped is to trap yourself.
Yeah, what Tiffany said.

If you approach a situation expecting to lose, you will lose. You will defeat yourself.

You can tackle the challenge head on and win, or you can assume you will be beaten and have your prophecy be self-fulfilling.

I was diagnosed in the summer of 2000. My job at the time required me to travel and meet with customers. I continued my job, and was not hesitant to tell customers or other professional contacts that, in order to stay healthy, there were certain foods I could not eat. Those that mattered understood, and those that refused to listen did not matter to me.

I met a man in 2002 who was a customer of the company to which I was then consulting. We met at a conference in San Francisco, and were introduced by a mutual friend who I worked with. Like me, his job involved a lot of travel.

Less than a year later, he was diagnosed with celiac disease. In retrospect, he had visible symptoms. He appeared emaciated. He had no energy.

Our mutual friend arranged for us to talk. I spoke with him at length by telephone. He thought that celiac disease meant the end of his life as he knew it. He thought that he would no longer be able to handle business travel.

I told him about how I was able to travel, and how he should be able to as well.

He still works at the same place. He still travels, although not as much since his promotion to manager. He has a positive outlook on life. For a while he was a participant on this board.

Jason, your future is what you choose to make it be. You have a challenge in being gluten-free. You can rise up to the challenge, and accept all of the help you can find here and from other sources, or you can choose to wallow in self-pity for the rest of your life. The choice is yours. I am here to help if you choose to accept help.

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It sound like you've found a job that works for you. In today's job market that is a pretty amazing thing for anyone to be able to say. Heck just having a job is becoming more and more amazing. It also sounds like you have the opportunity to travel with this job. Another great perk. I'd love that myself. I'm currently trying to restructure my life and work so that I can travel to Europe and perhaps live there for a year or more.

So, no, don't give up the job. It is not impossible to work around Celiacs. It does require some creativity and some planning but I know there are people who have posted to this very board who have managed to do it. For starters I'd say the internet is your best friend. Search for gluten free restaurants on the internet for where ever you are going next. It's hit or miss but you may well find some options that way. Talk to the conciergs at your hotel when you get there or even call or email ahead to the hotel. Find grocery stores where you're going. Remember fruits and veggies are naturally gluten free. Take your gluten-free breakfast bars with you in large quantities.

Being gluten-free does require a refocus of your life. In the past if I were traveling I'd be looking forward to the restaurants and hotel room service, LOL. Now I look forward to seeing the area and it's landmarks. I tell myself eating is secondary compared to the things I'm seeing and doing. I also know it takes time to get to that point, LOL. There are still days I'm not entirely there.

Because you're going to be traveling you will be facing an even steeper learning curve than most Celiacs. It's going to take time. Someday it will be easier but unfortunately it comes in increments. But it sounds like you have a job thats going to make all the trouble worth it.

I cant quit my job...if i do then it means ive been defeated and i will sink further into a deep depression & feel more useless than i already do. my career was going nowhere before this job and it changed my life, even though its been difficult with the food thing. i will never ever go back to an office job so its not even an option for me. just have to figure out a way to make it all work

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