While parents of young children with celiac disease are often rather accommodating when it comes to family meal preparation, for people who do not develop the condition or obtain a proper diagnosis until adulthood, getting the family to take your needs seriously can be a significant issue.
Even more problems seem to arise when it comes to distant family members, and for people with celiac disease holiday get-togethers can often lead to large meals where virtually nothing is safe to eat.
How do you get your family to understand celiac disease and the importance of a specific diet? This is a question that plagues many people living with this condition.
Living with celiac disease and trying to explain the condition to family members is difficult to say the least. While most people understand conditions such as diabetes, celiac receives very little attention from the media, which leads to a significant number of people who simply don’t understand. This is certainly unfortunate, given the remarkably high number of people who experience an inability to eat or digest gluten. While in some cases simply talking to family members can help, many people find that it has little effect.
When your family is able to eat gluten and you are not, finding meals that you can enjoy together takes a bit of work. Many people find that their families often choose to eat foods that are high in gluten without considering their needs at all. While this is certainly frustrating, there are things you can do to help stop this and to help your family understand what you are going through.
One option that works for many people is to offer family members informative literature about celiac disease and the effect that gluten has on the intestine. Many people simply do not understand the severe impact gluten can have on your body, and this understanding can make a big difference.
If this tactic doesn’t work for you, a great idea is to take over in the kitchen.
Is your family expecting a big spaghetti dinner? Offer to prepare the meal for them, and substitute gluten free noodles for traditional spaghetti noodles. The odds are good that your family members will never notice the difference. Once the meal is complete, explain to the family that they have enjoyed a gluten free meal and see if this helps to change their idea that your diet means that they can no longer eat the foods that they enjoy most.
For large family gatherings, you can also try bringing your own gluten-free dishes. This is often difficult when gatherings occur out of town, but ask a family member for permission to use their kitchen. Sometimes, just seeing that gluten free foods can be delicious is enough to make a difference.
At the end of the day, you have to realize that you are not alone. Celiac disease is unbelievably common, and when considering how many people have the condition and do not realize it, the numbers are even higher.
Family issues are not unusual, and many family members will choose to believe that you are simply picky or that your problem is in your head. If you are faced with this mindset and find that nothing you can do will change it, then you simply have to decide how willing you are to let this difference affect your relationship.
You are not alone with your disease, and should always keep in mind that there are thousands of people experiencing the same family problems as you. By staying strong and standing by your beliefs and needs, you can deal with these issues successfully.