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cait

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We just got back from two weeks at my mom's. As I feared, despite bringing our own cutting boards, pots & pans, colander, etc., I managed to get low level CC the entire time between my mom not really understanding (despite efforts to explain the need to use our cutting boards, etc), going to restaurants, other people eating gluten, etc. My reactions aren't horrible when it's an occasional incident (though certainly not at all pleasant), but after two weeks, my body is totally worn down. I'm exhausted, my joints hurt, and I'm still reacting to EVERYTHING, even when I'm being careful in our primarily gluten-free house. We're home for 1.5 weeks and then we're going away for another 2 weeks. The whole time we're away we'll be staying with other people. The majority of the time we'll be staying with family in a rented house, and of course I'm the only gluten-free person. Then we come home in time to jump full force into the school year. I had hoped that after a summer of being gluten-free I'd be starting the year in better shape, but now I'm worried I'll be a wreck by then. Is there ANYTHING I can do to limit CC on this next trip? I guess the big thing is that my partner or I need to be involved in making anything that I eat, but on this trip cooking dinner often happens at the same time we're putting our kids to bed, so on nights that aren't our assigned nights things will happen when we're not present and there's no way of knowing that other people have been safe. Add to that the fact that my MIL already spends much time complaining about my partner and I being vegetarian and reminding us of all the ways that we're difficult and horrible (like insisting that our children need to ride in carseats and be adequately sun-protected on the beach), and I'm really worried about how to make this a workable trip. Ugh. Am I just screwed?

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Wow. This trip doesn't sound like fun, and it sounds like opting out isn't an option.

If it's a road trip, I guess I'd spend the next week cooking and freezing individual portions of safe food to take in a cooler. Then purchase a teensy crock pot. (They're cheap, but I don't think I've seen one with a removable liner.) A blob of frozen cooked food cooked on low is ready about 8 hours later, and could be cooked in your bedroom, if necessary (no gluteny hands touching it).

Since it's a rental house, you won't have to worry about taking up too much freezer space!

I'd also take a pint of chocolate sauce. I'd label it "Gluten Free Cocoa Cane Sauce" or something equally unappealing so that nobody would give it a second look in the refrigerator. I found a simple recipe on Allrecipes.com. Mark Bittman's latest cookbook featured a recipe where you freeze bananas for 15 or more minutes, stick cut up sections on a skewer (before or after you freeze), then dunk them in chocolate sauce (and ground nuts if you like). This is my favorite dessert (and sometimes breakfast, with or without peanut butter) when everyone is having dessert. Frozen chocolate dipped cherries are great too! And a poached (or fresh sliced) pear with chocolate drizzled on it is outrageously good.

So sorry about your challenging MIL. Hope you have a good trip despite her. I have a snarly MIL too.

As for dining out, I haven't had a lot of luck. I generally tell my partner to have fun with his family ... this is their time and I'm quite happy staying home with a book. MIL makes snide remarks that bother me for a minute or two, but she can't hurt me as bad as gluten can. :P

Good luck, hope you feel better soon, and that the next trip goes better.

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cait ~ I have no words of wisdom for you but I can sympathize with you 100%. Every year we rv all summer and encounter much the same as you. The last 2 weeks we stayed with friends and it was either dinner at their place or out to eat at places I couldn't eat. I just went out to our rv and made my own meal, which I know isn't a luxury you have, or I scrubbed a section of their kitchen counter and made my own meager meal (that sounded pretty pitiful didn't it!lol ).

My partner's sister usually joins us once or twice during the summer for a week or more at a time and that is when it gets really hard for me and I usually have a pity party or two. We almost always eat somewhere I can't, or won't, they love breweries. I get so tired of always taking my own lunch and watching them eat. I honestly don't know what the answer to all of this is. I dislike the old "one day at a time" thing but i guess that is about all we can do.

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My mum went gluten free when my child was diagnosed. Her house is fully gluten free now. When we stay with one particular friend I know she's a clean freak (think As Good As It Gets lol) so I'm happy to take our own and know there will be no risk of cross contamination. We haven't stayed anywhere else. We normally book into a motel when we travel other than to visit my mum or that one friend.

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Designate a space in the kitchen and/or eating area as a strictly Gluten Free Zone. Heck, I'd even get some yellow caution tape and cordon it off for yourself! Family should not be so horrible to you and grumble that you're being difficult. It's your health, and if they properly understood the consequences of you being glutened, they should be nicer and more careful about it.

Show them a picture of some damaged intestines due to Celiac, maybe that'll get their attention :P I think I've still got mine around here somewhere ;)

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Unless the people you are staying with understand cc risks and are very careful to clean up after themselves you will have a hard time staying gluten-free. It takes cooperation from others to have a mixed household. I just had my inlaws come stay with us for 4 hellish days in which they probably cc'd me 3-4 different ways. Despite our requests that they not bring gluten into our house, they did it anyway. I'm paying the consequences now with bad glutening symptoms. Even people who are considerate and try to not make you sick though can make mistakes or forget. Since they don't live gluten-free on a daily basis it's easy for them to slip up.

I think the best solution is to cook/prepare as much of your food in advance (like another poster suggested) and have a separate gluten-free prep space. If you can keep most of your food and cookware in your room, away from the gluten in the kitchen it would help too. Perhaps request that no one use flour and they eat chips (corn and potato) instead of crackers for snacks. If your family will take your imput on food you may be able to suggest things that are "normal" and gluten-free so that most the meals would be safe if made with your cookware (and then of course you may have to oversee the prep for every meal to make sure no glutne sneaks in).

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