As people with Celiac disease, we think about food a lot! Food carries a lot of emotion – love, comfort, and healing among others. What does it mean when you have to remove many of the foods that bring positive emotions?
I’ve been sick this past week with a cold. In the pre-Celiac days, I would open a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup with some crackers to soothe the sore throat and open my nasal passages. While there are substitutes, it isn’t the same. The questionable small, white, chicken chunks, slightly mushy noodles, and salty broth brought me comfort knowing I would feel better after a bowl of soup. Now, the organic, low sodium, substitute is good, but not the soup my mom would give me.
Or the nasty, hated, tuna casserole my children have never had. (I’m a little grateful for this one.) Green bean casserole is not the same without French’s french fried onions and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup – luckily they get this at their grandmother’s house. What about the Stouffer’s French Bread pizza that always, no matter how long you waited, burned the top of your mouth with the first bite. Or the joy of picking up an easy dinner of Publix friend chicken, macaroni and cheese, and Hawaiian rolls for dinner. They don’t get these things because of me.
So, what will they remember? They will have memories of mommy’s gluten free dry, dry, dry home made birthday cake my husband made for my last birthday. They will have memories of only being able to eat at certain places because mommy can’t eat where everyone else eats. They will have memories of my “alternative” lasagna made with polenta instead of lasagna noodles. They will remember mommy doesn’t eat hamburgers with buns. They will remember the long talks with waiters at restaurants to ensure mommy stays safe. These will be their food memories.
I even have thought about when they grow up. My daughter will invite me to dinner at her house to meet her new boyfriend and she will make me a lovely gluten free meal without any complaints. My son’s new girlfriend will complain to him before I arrive that she has to change everything and make a gluten free meal for me when the gluten free fad went out of fashion when she was a kid.
Even though their food memories aren’t the same as mine, I hope they have good food memories. I hope they feel the love I pour into every meal we eat. I hope they feel safe and see that I keep myself safe. I hope they see that I honor my health and respect my body. I hope one day, they ask me for my “alternative” lasagna recipe.