Saturday, October 12, 2013

Visiting Non-Gluten-Free Relatives

I'm going to try very hard to not use this post as my therapy for the week. I don't know about your family, but mine is challenging. And I'm going to stop right there from going any further in explaining. But I think many of us have faced the dilemma of how to eat and deal with meals at relatives homes. Personally, I've only dealt with needing to be gluten-free for seven years. Seeing as I have a grown son, that means my side of the family never had to deal with such things for me. When its not my kitchen, my menu plans or others' desires for eating out, having a real need to be gluten-free can be challenging for us and very annoying for others.

I think it's very normal for most family members to think we can eat most of the same dishes that have been beloved traditions, just minus a small ingredient or two. But when those ingredients are glutinous, the substitutions can often completely change a dish. AND a large number of those that are Celiac or gluten-intolerant are likely to have issues with other foods, most predominantly, dairy or eggs. Again, foods that can and will totally change the outcome of many dishes when substituted. You can see how you and your needs suddenly become a real thorn in others' sides when family favorites no longer turn out the same. Some people are very intolerant of Thanksgiving dishes varying from what they grew up with or the finger foods of Super Bowls or the fancy extravagances of New Year's. But there are a number of things you can try. You might not get it right this year or even next year. But, in time, you stumble onto things that work FOR YOU. Seeing that we are looking just ahead to Thanksgiving, let's think about this a bit now.

If you will be at someone else's home, TRY to talk with them but don't demand that everything changes or caters to you. Take a look at the menu items. Which ones are the sacred cows? Would they be easy to rework? If not, don't bother trying. Think through this some ahead of time and have a suggestion for yourself and anyone else that may want to try and offer to make it. The only things you need to concern yourself with then is the possible cross-contamination of the kitchen when preparing it and maybe a special way to label your gluten-free dishes when they are out on the buffet table. And label your utensil for that item also so no one uses it to dip something else. Maybe setting the gluten-free items off to the side away from the other items would be a good idea also. Pointing out that naturally gluten-free dishes that are simple, whole foods is a very good thing might spark ideas of how a meal could be enhanced. If the kitchen, suggestions, family members are just too difficult resistant, then resign yourself to doing for yourself as needed. We have enough options these days at a lot of grocery stores and online to not be hungry. And remember, after all, it's not REALLY about the food. It's not. Family is often a double-edged sword during the holidays. But they are family. Embrace that fact. It's about them. And it's about you as part of them. Be the bigger person, if need be, and let their resistance roll off. One thing I've learned about the gluten-free path is that it changes. We continue to learn and we adapt. Even when we think we've arrived, next year will have something new in our knowledge and ability to deal with it easier. I know it all seems much easier to me this year than it did last. And the same for the year prior to that. This may be a big thing in our life but in the grand picture of things, it's a small thing. And I've heard we aren't suppose to sweat those.

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