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sandsurfgirl

Cultural Aspects Of Food

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I am all new to this and don't have my formal diagnosis yet. Waiting on test results. I was diagnosed with wheat intolerance and lactose intolerance years ago as well as IBS, but I think that it's going to end up I need to be gluten free. Long story just like so many on this board have to tell.

I am really struggling emotionally with the cultural aspects of food. I am Italian. Because of wheat intolerance, I don't eat pasta a lot and I have pizza on a rare occasion. I always get pretty sick afterwards, and maybe I sound silly, but the thought that I cannot no matter what ever go out to my favorite Italian restaurant for pizza and pasta is making me so sad. Not to be able to enjoy pasta with my family unless I bring my own rice pasta is sad too. It's just my culture revolves around so many special foods that I have to be super careful with and I can't be "free" to just eat with my family anymore.

I'm just mourning the loss of foods and feeling like I'm going to be the outcast at birthday parties. LOL

Friends are telling me "Well if this is what's been causing all of your health problems, then this is wonderful news. You have answers and a cure." Yes of course that is true. Yes I am thrilled that after only a couple of days on a gluten-free diet I already feel better.

But... I have this grieving process going on and I feel like nobody understands except my beautiful wonderful husband, thank God for him. I mean, I can't ever go to a Chinese restaurant again without worrying because of soy sauce and I love doing that!!!! It's not only the loss of foods. It's the loss of experiences. Places I go with my neighbors or places that my husband and I love to go that I might not be able to frequent anymore. I just feel so sad about all of it.

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You don't have to lose the whole experience. We seem to often feel that we can't have the social experience that comes with "eating dinner" without the food. But you can. Is it exactly the same? No. But it changes throughout life anyway. Take your food and enjoy the company! Yes, at first, you'll be doing it because it's a practice. But over time, as you practice, it will be easier to really enjoy the company (as long as you're not going hungry), and enjoy yourself.

It will get easier, after a while, if you make a practice of enjoying what you have, regardless of what else you might want to have. But it takes time. And during that time (and even after) it's fair to mourn the loss of what you did have. It's a loss, even if it's "just" pasta/pizza. It's a major change of life. It takes time to process, time to form new habits, and time to adjust how you look at things that no one else you know (most likely) has to do.

I still greatly enjoy dinner with friends, but it's home cooked more often, and cooked by me. Going out to restaurants still works, but you find the restaurants that you can relatively trust, the menu items you can eat, and mainly stay with those places. (Thai and Vietnamese food is often a good choice. PF Changs still leaves Chinese inspired foods on the table. There are some pizza places that are starting to do gluten free pizzas. And you'll find a few Italian places starting to do gluten free pasta as well. Look. You'll find stuff.)

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Oof... boy, THAT all sounds familiar! I'm in a similar boat at the moment (got my diagnosis of celiac almost 8 months ago) so while I don't have any staggeringly helpful suggestions - I can at least offer the fact you aren't alone.

The lack of companionship and camaraderie is a toughie. My husband and I spent a LOT of our free time exploring new food venues before and after we got married (heck - his dad is the executive chef at a local hall) and realizing that I couldn't try out that new little bistro, or explore the local cafe with a friend was almost like a death blow. And while I love to cook (and am slowly - albeit a tad bit grumpily, I'll confess! - relearning and regaining my love) having to either skip hanging out with friends or cook for everyone does wear.

On the up side? A lot of restaurants are starting to heed the call of the celiac and gluten free dollar. More and more menu options are being offered. And to my surprise - its the little hidden gems that often offer the best options. Only last night my husband came home with a huge grin to tell me that on a whim he had stopped at the tiny Chinese restaurant we had discovered a few years ago and asked to talk to the manager. He explained about celiac, about how I couldn't risk eating gluten, what it was in... and before he could really go on - the manager waved him off and said simply "Bring her back. We'll make it right. Everything here is fresh - so using a different soy sauce or using rice noodles instead of wheat - no problem. We miss seeing you two!" So you never know... there may be more options than you know!

As for the family food? Hugs hon. It DOES suck. But... there is still risotto, some pretty amazing pasta recipes out there (I'm girding my loins and trying my hand at ravioli's out of Carol F's 1,000 gluten free recipes cookbook in the morning), and more. But I know how hard it is. Lots and lots of hugs. You aren't alone.

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Hello

It is natural to go through a grieving process.... There are many places that have gluten-free offerings these days...... & many Italian places will allow you to take your own pasta & they will cook it at no extra charge.

BiAglut is an imported pasta from Italy that is hard to tell its not wheat pasta.There are also several other brands that are very good as well. I make stuffed shells, lasagne, spaghetti, rigatoni, mac & cheese, with Biaglut & everyone eats it. gluten eaters & we that are gluten-free.

Carrabas ,Carino's, olive garden & more now have gluten-free menus. I'm not sure I trust Olive Garden as yet but at least they are trying to support the gluten-free community.

We love Italian food & eat it often.......

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I can understand your grieving process. There are a lot of losses related to Celiac, but, fortunately, down the road when you feel better, you'll realize that good health has entered your life. I'm currently on a quest to find as many restaurants as I can in which to eat, in my hometown of 130,000 people. I've spent a lot of years cooking at home and avoiding restaurants, just because it's been easier, but recently I googled all the eateries in town and am dedicated to finding ones that offer foods without grains, milk & dairy, egg whites, yeast, msg, casein, whey, and other additives to which I am sensitive. I hope that you, too, will be able to find some good places to eat, so you can continue to socialize and enjoy the eating out experience. Best wishes! Welda

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Thank you so much for those well thought out answers. It really really helps to talk to people who "get it." I am greatly looking forward to that better health and it's worth it to me. But I will always be sad that I can't go eat deep dish pizza at my favorite local italian place with my italian next door neighbors. Sometimes you just bond over good food with certain people and that type of food means something to you. I'm sure I will find other items to eat there, but that garlic bread... Oh my Lord their garlic bread is so full of olive oil and butter it's juicy. LOL It's an experience eating that garlic bread.

I had no idea I could have Thai food. I love Thai!!! I have so much to learn.

I reluctantly went to the store to buy some gluten free things to try tonight and I was pleasantly surprised that so far all the things I tasted were really great. I don't eat a ton of junk food anyways, so it's not like I want to be eating gluten-free donuts all the time, but it is nice to have it as an option. I tried the kinnikinnik (spelling?) maple donut and it was actually really good. I would like it if I didn't have to eat like this. So it gave me hope.

I'm going to look into that pasta from Italy. I don't care if it costs me money to order it or whatever. If I can have some decent pasta this Italian girl will be able to live with this. I've heard that it's actually common among mediterraneans and in Italy they test all babies routinely for celiac. So I would think that they would have some good options and alternatives if that's true. I can't remember where I read it, and haven't confirmed if it's true or not.

Overall, eating lots of healthy proteins, fruits and veggies, and whole grains like some cooked brown rice is the best way for everybody to eat I guess. We are being forced to do something healthy for ourselves that in the long run we are better off for doing.

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Maybe your favorite Italian place will be willing to make your pizza without a crust. So you eat yours with a spoon......it's still pizza!

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I completely understand your grieving. I went thru it and my daughter's going thru it now. She's not grieving for the gluten free part, as she's been familiar w/ mine and my middle daughter's issues for years. But she's discovering that she also has interstitial cystitis, which limits her diet even more! She's having a hard time dealing w/ the idea that so much of entertaining and being w/ friends revolves around food!

It's all a learning process... it'll get easier... I promise!

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You are in the grieving phase and thats ok... give yourself time to grieve. We all understand. Life is still going to be okay. I haven't gone out to eat with people I love in like 100 years it feels, and yet my life doesnt feel any less good. Something to remember is that there are a lot of experiences in life. More than we would ever have time for in one lifetime. So fill your life up with the things you CAN do, not what you cant. Also cooking lots of yummy gluten free italian food for friends and family and hosting lots of dinner parties is a way to keep everyone together and things fun and happy. I used to struggle with the holidays until one year I just took control and hosted Thanksgiving myself, cooked the entire meal. Not only did I not have to worry about the food making me sick, but I got to make everyone happy and feel so good as they enjoyed my cooking and told me how wonderful it all was. Good luck, feel better!

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I posted this on another thread, but I got my diagnosis today. It's official. My blood test was positive. I just

knew it was going to be positive and I already started this emotional roller coaster, but now I can't stop crying.

You are all very nice people, but I didn't really want to join your club! LOL!!! So here I am in the club, and I'm elated to finally have an answer after 40 years but I'm so so sad that it took 40 years of my life to get diagnosed and that all that pasta was killing me.

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I posted this on another thread, but I got my diagnosis today. It's official. My blood test was positive. I just

knew it was going to be positive and I already started this emotional roller coaster, but now I can't stop crying.

You are all very nice people, but I didn't really want to join your club! LOL!!! So here I am in the club, and I'm elated to finally have an answer after 40 years but I'm so so sad that it took 40 years of my life to get diagnosed and that all that pasta was killing me.

I know it's a little daunting at first, but in the long run, it's all worth it. When I started this, I did a lot of grumbling about pizza and pasta and bread... but now I feel so good that cheating isn't even the slightest temptation. That doesn't mean I'll never whine again, but the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.

Also, there's no reason why social eating has to end. Educate your friends and family. Have potlucks where you know you can eat something. Be the host. Tell your family to be tested -- if you have it, it's likely many of them do, too. In my family, so many of us have it that our gatherings are gluten-free. :)

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Oh, I am so sorry about your diagnosis, but I am here to tell you that you will, someday, feel blessed that you learned at this point in your life what was going on. I'm 65 and doctors never had a clue what was going with me, since symptoms started at age 8, but now that I have been on this diet for many years, I feel so much better. It still requires diligence and self-love to stick to the diet, but those are small prices to pay to feel better. Once again, I wish you the best in your quest for good health. I'm so glad you're here, and let us know what you need so we can share with you. Your new life has just begun! Welda

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Oh, I am so sorry about your diagnosis, but I am here to tell you that you will, someday, feel blessed that you learned at this point in your life what was going on. I'm 65 and doctors never had a clue what was going with me, since symptoms started at age 8, but now that I have been on this diet for many years, I feel so much better. It still requires diligence and self-love to stick to the diet, but those are small prices to pay to feel better. Once again, I wish you the best in your quest for good health. I'm so glad you're here, and let us know what you need so we can share with you. Your new life has just begun! Welda

All of you have been so nice to me on this board. I can't thank you enough. I feel so fragile right now. It is a new life isn't it? I can't remember a time when I wasn't somewhat sick or uncomfortable or dealing with some ailment. Amazingly, I've been quite athletic all of my life despite being sort of sick all the time and very sick plenty of the time. I can't imagine what will happen to my athletic performance now. I just thought of that!! I had to give up surfing because I couldn't lose the weight I've gained over the years despite my workouts and healthy diet. Maybe I'll lose weight and surf again! Imagine that.

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Maybe your favorite Italian place will be willing to make your pizza without a crust. So you eat yours with a spoon......it's still pizza!

I would advise caution with using this alternative. I've worked in a pizza place and the chances of cross contamination would keep me from trying any of the sauce/veggies even in a bowl. We stretched the doughs out on a board, then used a spoon to spread sauce on it (spoon will be glutened, therefore so will the sauce) and the same hands we just covered in dough to reach in each bin to pick up veggies or meats to add. To my way of thinking, there's no way to be sure that the sauce and toppings don't have a good coating of flour on them after all the pizzas they make in an evening. I suppose if you could get them to open or cut new for you it might work.

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I was thinking that a favorite place, with staff that know you, you have a better chance of teaching them how to make something you can eat. Maybe even get them to stock some frozen gluten-free dough for you. Small neighborhood places tend to think of their customers as friends.

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yes, the cultural aspects are hard! I married into an Italian family, so I am well aware of the importance of traditional foods...

But it does get easier with time, you will find more and more options, and as time goes on it is easier to see the cup as half full (rather than half empty).

In my case, my husband has decided he likes the rice pasta better than "regular" pasta. (We buy the Tinkyada brand). While my mother in law still makes many of her recipes her traditional way, she has even become more open to changing a few things! For example, if she is going to make a breaded cutlets, she uses gluten free crumbs so my daughter and I can eat them too. And she uses cornstarch now (instead of flour) for thickening. She has even made us a few deserts from gluten free mixes!

As for me, I have rediscovered cooking and having a blast. I was given a subscription to La Cucina Italiana last year, shortly before realizing gluten was at least contributing to (if not causing) our problems. Every month the magazine would come, and I was so bummed about all those lovely recipes I couldn't try.

I am bumming no more! I have been busy experimenting with gluten free substitutions in some of those recipes, with some great success. This weekend I am going to attempt to make some gluten free raviolis, using a gluten free flour mix. My only problem right now is that I can't make my mind up on which filling I want in them!

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