The Family of a Celiac

I am the one with Celiac disease. My kids don’t have it and never will – they don’t have the genetic markers. My husband has a stomach made of cast iron. I am the only one with this disease and it affects everyone in the family all the time.

We are exceptionally limited to where we can eat out. There are 3-4 restaurants close enough to fight traffic to eat at during the week. I am bored with these restaurants much of the time so we don’t eat there often. My children are bored with these restaurants too.

Within the last six months, I have taken the children to Taco Bell and a Chinese food buffet for the the first time in their lives. I obviously didn’t eat there, but I let them go because they were curious. My son said that Taco Bell was the greatest place ever and asks to have tacos from there at least once a week. I don’t indulge him for obvious reasons – poor quality food, it isn’t good for him, etc. My daughter fell in love with all of the options at the Chinese restaurant.

When we go on vacation, we can only eat at certain places. Last summer, we were in Calabash, NC – birthplace of fried seafood. When we went, I could only have steamed seafood without seasoning. Of the 25 restaurants in Calabash, I had to eliminate 20 of them because of a lack of steamed options. So, I eliminated most of the restaurants for the whole family because I couldn’t eat there. Not really fair for the rest of the family, but they did it without complaint.

I am an adult. I can manage a shared kitchen to keep myself safe. I do all the loading of the dishwasher, most of the cooking, and most of the grocery shopping. I buy 95% naturally gluten free items. I have my own gluten free drawer for gluten free flours and occasionally gluten free treats. My children know that they have their Oreos and mom has hers. When they are out of Oreos, they are not allowed to eat mine and get severely punished when I catch them eating mine! I am fiercely protective of my Glutino sandwich cookies!!

My kids know that anything that touches gluten goes in the dishwasher. They know not to put food on counters. They know not to stick spoons into things without asking. These are not things non-Celiac children think of.

They understand when mom is sick. They make sure they always replace the toilet paper roll and know how to use Febreeze Air Freshener.

We are invited to a wedding in May. We have to call the bride to talk about gluten free options for me at the wedding. We are going to stay in a VRBO with a kitchen so I don’t have to eat out at every meal and run the risk of getting sick.

My Celiac affects every aspect of their lives. But I try to minimize it. I let them have cake on their birthday, pizza on Friday nights, and eat out at regular restaurants when I can. I try not to show them when I am sick and try to let many of the snide comments slide. Most of the time I succeed. Occasionally it gets to me and I have a good cry about it. Then I put on a face and keep on fighting.

3 thoughts on “The Family of a Celiac

  1. It is hard when only one member of the family has coeliac disaese. One of my kids is a coeliac and was diagnosed when he was 14. We all learned lots of behaviours that others think weird – no knives in peanut butter, a separate conatiner of butter for my son, and so much more. Where I live in Australia there are so many more options now for gluten free eating out. We even have a local cafe that is totally gluten free, and most restaurants will accommodate people who are coeliacs if called ahead. But when my son was younger eating out was a very hard thing. He often would eat first before going out with his friends so that if there wasn’t anything available that was gluten free he wouldn’t go hungry. I hope things change to be more accommodating for coeliacs in your part of the world. thanks for sharing. margaret

  2. Thank for sharing your story. I was the first one in my family to be diagnosed with coeliac disease at 45 years old. As a result of my diagnosis, my mother and 2 of my sisters were also diagnosed and since then a couple of cousins too. My kids have been tested but at the present do not appear to have coeliac disease. At home most of the food we eat anyway is gluten free and everyone is happy with that, we still eat pretty well. Lots of recipes can be adapted and non-coeliacs have their own bread and breakfast cereals. My family is pretty understanding and we choose restaurants that will have something on their menus that is gluten free. We can get pizzas that are gluten free home delivered too.

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