Jump to content
  • Sign Up
0
Hache24

Newcomer! Family Holiday Meals

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

I'm fairly new here and this is my first post. I just wanted to start off by saying how supportive you all are to newcomers, and I really appreciate your hospitality.

Since you've all been so open with your experiences, I want to share my thoughts on holiday meals.

'm 22 years old and I was diagnosed with Celiacs and lactose intolerance a year and a half ago, but I still find it hard to have holiday meals with my family. I'm almost 100% Italian, so all holiday meals (with the exception of Thanksgiving) include whole grain pasta, cheese, and sauce. I have a high gluten intolerance and an even higher lactose intolerance, so spending holidays with my family is really tough. I have a hard time explaining to my grandparents, and even my parents that I cannot eat their lasagna, or manicotti each holiday. (It's a HUGE insult not to eat my grandmother's lasagna).

When I was first diagnosed my family was really supportive, and tried new recipes whenever I was home. Since then, the novelty of my condition has worn off and my mother has gone back to her traditional Italian meals, because no one else in the family has these problems (except distant relatives that we do not really speak to). Does anyone else find holidays awkward and rough? Everyone is always stuffed at the end of the meal, and I'm usually still snacking at the veggie platter. I'm afraid my grandparents will think I have an eating disorder if I keep avoiding the main course at holidays. I'm afraid my condition is ruining my closeness to my family, and I don't want to put anyone out by throwing traditional italian recipes out the window.

Maybe when I'm older and start making my own holiday traditions, things will get easier. My boyfriend of four years is incredibly supportive and has given up gluten, which makes food shopping and cooking daily meals MUCH easier. But as a college student who depends on family dinners on the holidays, I'm not afraid to admit that getting a little discouraged.

Thank you for listening, I don't mean to bum anyone out! I just get a little lonely on holidays since I have no one else in my boat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum! Sadly you are not alone in dealing with family, who just don't "get it"; even if they do, they don't know how careful we have to be to avoid cross contamination, or they don't take our diet into consideration at all when planning family meals, etc. You might have to start bringing some of your own safe foods or eat first and then visit family later.

It's tough to deal with for many here...you might want to read the "Easter Dinner" thread as you are definitely not alone http://www.celiac.co...-easter-dinner/

I am fortunate in that my family is aware of how important my diet is. That does not mean that I will be able to eat every single thing that's served (heck, sometimes I don't even like everything so wouldn't eat it anyway) nor do I believe they should go without traditional foods just to include me. But I always have plenty to eat and never starve.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mentioned in another thread that thankfully the gluten issue isn't a major one in my family since my father is a Celiac. This past Thanksgiving and Christmas, there were gluten free options for he, I, and anyone else that wanted to try them. Everything gluten free was prepared separately and was served in a different part of the house with great care being taken to avoid any and all CC. My aunt and her daughter recently tested negative for Celiac but my aunt had a 40 and her daughter had a 13 on their EnteroLab tests so this Easter was 100% gluten free and you could either eaten gluten free or starve.

In the past though when it was just me avoiding sugar, additives, chemicals, etc. my grandmother would get her feelings hurt when I would refuse to eat something and then someone else would get their feelings hurt when they would ask me to just eat it to make my grandmother happy and I would refuse. Personally I never understood any of it because I had always been an extremely picky eater when I was child just over how something looked and tasted and no one even bothered to "bat an eye" over it. I'm not sure why me being an adult and making dietary changes for my health triggered some of the arguments that it did.

To answer your question, I used to find the holidays beyond awkward and rough. They were honestly a major drain physically and emotionally because I knew what was going to happen. It was like the movie "Groundhog Day". Thankfully these days everyone has mellowed out and several people eat in a similar fashion as far as "health" content is concerned. Everyone else still consumes added sweeteners but they "get" why I choose not to do so. I'm 32 though so, I've got a bit more "experience" in handling that type of a situation. It will get easier but, it's not anything that's going to happen overnight. Any major change that is seen as "radical" will usually take people time to adjust to especially when a family tradition and older generations are involved.

If nothing else people will see you not being "stuffed & miserable" at the end of a meal and they will start to see why you eat the way that you do. Everyone would go into a "food comma" (doze off) after eating and they would marvel at how I was a awake and feeling "fine" even back when we are all eating copious amounts of gluten. I would just say portion control is your friend lol. Of course looking back, "fine" was actually miserable and, "miserable" was actually on the verge of wanting a meteorite to land on you at full speed.

I am confused about why not eating cheese is an issue though. I was under the impression that while cheese has been used in Italian cuisine for a long time, it's not actually considered "traditional". Well traditional to the country I mean. Family traditions don't always fall in line with cultural ones. I'm not Italian but I am from the south so my family would give me weird looks and talk about how healthy the fat in milk and cheese was when I would decline to eat it. I would have to explain that while that is technically true, I was only consuming a set amount of a fat for the day and that nuts and seeds were full of vitamins and minerals that were totally void in dairy products and the only reason milk was high in anything was because it was "fortified" with synthetic vitamins. Not to mention several foods like kale are much higher in calcium than any dairy product is. To be honest, it was probably only an issue because I was refusing to eat it based on nutritional content rather than actually being lactose or casein intolerant.

I have also gotten the feeling that in the past my family thought I had eating disorders even though I was in the gym and packing on weight and muscle. I wasn't super huge but the gains were rapid enough for friends to make off the cuff jokes about me being on steroids from time to time. I wasn't. It was just a combination of nutrition, my routine, and having a mixed body type of endomorph and mesomorph. The nice thing is I am actually similar to an ectomorph body type when I am on a cutting cycle so hooray for not having all bad genetics. In my experience, if people don't actually understand about what "nutrition" is, they will jump to conclusions about a disorder because your diet differs so vastly from theirs. After all, anything that isn't "normal" is "abnormal & unhealthy" by default.

Also, that's really cool that your boyfriend is supporting you and has made the switch to gluten free. Having anyone in your life that it is gluten free always makes things easier even if it's not a romantic relationship because they understand how crappy it can feel to not be able to go and grab whatever you want to eat, from wherever, and whenever. Even when I was just eating healthy & additive/chemical/sweetener free, it would get old trying to find something at a restaurant I was willing to eat when I would go out for someone's birthday. Even back then, it was almost impossible to eat anywhere due to my chosen diet so, I am used to not "eating out". That has really acted as a "cushion" for going gluten free.

Being "out on your own" and starting your "own traditions" will certainly make things easier as it's just you in control of the situation. Thankfully, most of the people who aren't gluten free in my family actually prefer the gluten free food and deserts or at least can not tell the difference. That's also something they aren't lying about because if there is one thing my family does, it's to not lie about the taste of food in order to not hurt someones feelings. We are all tactful about it but, brutally honest. Based off other situations I have had in the past though, I can totally see how gluten can "drive a wedge" between a person and their family. Those are incredibly painful and crappy situations but, all you cna really do is "stand your ground" and see how it all plays out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our solution is to bring substantial dishes that are gluten free (if you get a crock pot you can bring a roast, even as a college student!), and then plate up extra for seconds and guard it with our lives so that it doesn't get cross contaminated.

As for the difficulty in turning down a traditional dish made by grandma, that's just going to suck. I think I might write a letter explaining how delicious the traditional foods are but also how because of your condition they are just not an option for you, and refusing them is not meant as an insult. That doesn't mean they'll get it, but at least you'll have tried.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, I think it's time you start a new tradition and bring your own gluten free lasagna with low lactose cheese (if you can have that, it not search for recipes that don't use cheese--I am allergic to dairy and I have made great lasagna packed with meat and veggies instead of cheese). If you can find Tinkyada pasta--it is SO GOOD! You'll be enjoying your old pasta favorites in no time. Play with some pasta recipes for a while until you get somethign really good that even gluten eaters can eat (use your bf as a tester). Then you can take your own main dish for holidays to share wiht your relatives. You may have to make sur eyou take some first and no shared utensils ar eused to scoop your's out but at least you won't feel left out and starving. Your relatives might even start to understand what gluten-free means as you explain to them that your dish has rice pasta and no wheat. But even if they don't get it at least you have somehtign safe to eat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GlutenFreeManna's post made me realize I should have pointed out that there are recipes online for "cheese" made out of nuts that vegans use to mimic ricotta and even mascarpone. They typically use a combination of "raw" cashews and "raw' macadamia nuts. Several of the recipes use soy based alternatives so, you sort of have to dig around. A lot of them also call for nutritional yeast but, I don't do yeast and neither do several other people in the world and then there is the debate about if nutritional yeast is MSG or not. In all fairness, I haven't tried the nut cheeses but, they look incredible.

Since the OP is Italian and since this is the best looking vegan tiramisu I have ever seen, I'll go ahead and share the link. I have not had a chance to make it yet but, the pictures make my mouth water every time I see them. It does use soy milk though but, I am sure you could easily swap it out for another milk alternative if you can not or will not do soy. It also calls for spelt in the lady fingers but, that can easily be subbed as well.

CLICK HERE

I had found dairy free and soy free recipes for ricotta and other cheeses but, I guess I didn't bookmark them since I had to give up all grains. What I do recall though is that you sort of have to combine different recipes to get a fully allergen free cheese substitute or end product like tiramisu.

Here is a typical ricotta cheese recipe:

(Macadamia Nut Ricotta)

1 cup macadamia nuts

1/2 cup whole raw cashews

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 T organic extra virgin olive oil (optional)

1 clove garlic, minced

3 T nutritional yeast

1 tsp sun-dried sea salt, or to taste

source for recipe

Perhaps if you were to make something like the tiramisu or a gluten free & dairy free "traditional" dish using the above information or something similar from Google, it would show your family the great lengths you would go to in order to find a happy median for you all to meet at during family events. I understand not wanting anyone to go out of their way but, at the same time you shouldn't feel ostracized over something that puts you health in danger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everyone,

I'm fairly new here and this is my first post. I just wanted to start off by saying how supportive you all are to newcomers, and I really appreciate your hospitality.

Since you've all been so open with your experiences, I want to share my thoughts on holiday meals.

'm 22 years old and I was diagnosed with Celiacs and lactose intolerance a year and a half ago, but I still find it hard to have holiday meals with my family. I'm almost 100% Italian, so all holiday meals (with the exception of Thanksgiving) include whole grain pasta, cheese, and sauce. I have a high gluten intolerance and an even higher lactose intolerance, so spending holidays with my family is really tough. I have a hard time explaining to my grandparents, and even my parents that I cannot eat their lasagna, or manicotti each holiday. (It's a HUGE insult not to eat my grandmother's lasagna).

When I was first diagnosed my family was really supportive, and tried new recipes whenever I was home. Since then, the novelty of my condition has worn off and my mother has gone back to her traditional Italian meals, because no one else in the family has these problems (except distant relatives that we do not really speak to). Does anyone else find holidays awkward and rough? Everyone is always stuffed at the end of the meal, and I'm usually still snacking at the veggie platter. I'm afraid my grandparents will think I have an eating disorder if I keep avoiding the main course at holidays. I'm afraid my condition is ruining my closeness to my family, and I don't want to put anyone out by throwing traditional italian recipes out the window.

Maybe when I'm older and start making my own holiday traditions, things will get easier. My boyfriend of four years is incredibly supportive and has given up gluten, which makes food shopping and cooking daily meals MUCH easier. But as a college student who depends on family dinners on the holidays, I'm not afraid to admit that getting a little discouraged.

Thank you for listening, I don't mean to bum anyone out! I just get a little lonely on holidays since I have no one else in my boat.

Welcome to our wonderful group. I joined in October 2010 and I have to say I have never met a more supportive, intelligent and kind group of people anywhere in my life. I don't know what I'd do without this forum. I'm copy and pasting two links you might find useful. Remember, regardless of what a package says ALWAYS check the ingredients!!! I hope these help.

Loey

http://www.triumphdi...et-survival-kit

http://dearpharmacis.../?p=755&print=1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everyone,

Thank you all for being so supportive. After reading your responses, I've realized that one of my major issue with this disease is my embarrassment by it. I am afraid to talk about my digestive system with my distant family members (and I'm also a little shy). I am going to try the recipes and products you've all mentioned, and I'm always looking for something new to try. I just get a little bogged down when I realize I can't have my family's traditional meals I've enjoyed all my life! I almost wish I had been gluten and dairy free since birth so I wouldn't know what I'm missing.

I do have a crock pot and I think I will start bringing my own foods to these dinners. Who knows, maybe I can trick my Grandmother into eating something good for her :).

Other than that, I have heard from several people with Celiacs that holidays get easier with time. I really hope they do.

I love this forum because I don't know anyone else with any kind of digestive problems, so I've always been told it's a taboo subject. I'm just glad I'm not alone.

Thank you everyone, I really appreciate it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My husband is Italian. We use rice, corn and/or quinoa pasta and he hasn't noticed the difference. I no longer use cheese in my sauces. I do buy it for him and I put it on his portion. Daughter and I used to have dairy allergies but outgrew them. So we can have it twice a week now. But that wasn't always the case.

I buy the gluten-free lasagna noodles, break them in large chunks, cook them then mix them with cooked chicken breast cut in bite sized pieces and chicken gravy. Very good! I suppose you could layer the same to be like real lasagna.

Husband's relatives are in another state. So we haven't seen them since being diagnosed. They are big food pushers though and I don't think they would understand our allergies (we do have allergies and not celiac). I know husband doesn't understand and that is frustrating.

Perhaps for the next family meal you could bring a dish to share? Not all Italian dishes have cheese in them. My MIL used to make something every Christmas that I personally didn't like but husband did. It was angel hair pasta or spaghetti tossed with a little oil, some shrimp and a ton of garlic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everyone,

Thank you all for being so supportive. After reading your responses, I've realized that one of my major issue with this disease is my embarrassment by it. I am afraid to talk about my digestive system with my distant family members (and I'm also a little shy). I am going to try the recipes and products you've all mentioned, and I'm always looking for something new to try. I just get a little bogged down when I realize I can't have my family's traditional meals I've enjoyed all my life!

I don't think anyone is really "comfortable" talking about their digestive system. Most people are brought up being taught that it's a private matter which is why you close the door lol. It is a private matter to some extent but unfortunately, when you have any issues with your digestive system it inevitably becomes a very public topic especially when people just don't understand what the big deal is about some "aches & pains". It sort of becomes clear to those people once you take of the gloves and go "no holds barred" on them with details about what it's like when you have to sprint to the restroom and why. Honestly, I was surprised about how openly it was discussed this Easter as my family is usually somewhat "prim and proper" when it comes to the topic of digestion. Everyone usually tries to be pretty aloof when discussing it but, when it comes to Celiac there is really only so many ways you can do that.

I also get bummed out about not getting to eat our traditional foods. I never really liked desert growing up except for the chocolate pie and lemon ice box pie my grandmother made. Several years ago though I started to like the pumpkin pie and pecan pie my grandmother would make. Now, all of those can be and are now made gluten free and taste the same. In fact, the crusts are actually so much better and still made from scratch. However, they are still off my to eat list as they are loaded with sugar and there is no way in the world anyone in my family is going to make them without sugar or corn syrup lol. Which is perfectly fine as it's been a long time since I have eaten them and, clearly I don't want them bad enough because I have never looked at making them on my own. That doesn't mean I don't stare longingly at them though and think to myself "om nom nom nom" lol. I completely understand the viewpoint of I wish it was this way from birth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't have to tell anybody about your digestive issues. Just tell them gluten makes you very, very sick because you have celiac disease. If they press you for more details of what you mean by "sick" then you can either tell them the details or you can explain celaic disease in medical terms---for example say "When I eat gluten my body starts to have an autoimmune reaction and my intestines attack themselves..." Or something similar. However, if your family does not usually discuss health then they likely won't even ask for details when you say it makes you very sick. At the very least you should tell them you have celiac because you got the genes from somewhere and it's very likely you are not the only one in your family that has it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"intestinal distress" is also a vague phrase that, when preceeded by "severe," gets a broad range of ideas across without too much detailed explanation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
0

×