Imagine growing up with celiac disease. I cannot imagine that would be very easy. Now imagine being the sibling of someone with celiac disease growing up in the same house. I’m sure its hard on everyone and is probably not much different than growing up with someone with a long-term illness. But I wanted to talk about the siblings of those with celiac disease today and how the disease might affect them.
First off, if someone has a first-degree blood relative, they should be tested for celiac disease annually or if symptoms develop.
With that being said, Sally is my thirteen year old niece with celiac disease. Veronica is her non-celiac, twelve year old sister. Sally was diagnosed at 5 and their entire house went gluten free. Neither Sally nor Veronica remember their lives before Sally was diagnosed with celaic. Veronica’s sister has always had celiac disease.
Veronica’s parents take her to gluten restaurants when her sister isn’t with them. They even have a few special restaurants Veronica enjoys that have no gluten free options. Their house is gluten free, but that’s just the way it has always been.
My brother-in-law and I were talking on Sunday about how Veronica got angry when the family when out to gluten free restaurants. I reminded my bother-in-law that because Veronica can eat everywhere, no place is special, like gluten free restaurants are for Sally.
That’s the trick isn’t it? Restaurants aren’t special to those without food allergies or sensitivities. People without celiac eat without thinking. Maybe they think about eating “healthy” – like having a salad instead of a burger and fries, but they don’t research, ask a million questions, or question everything that is brought to them.
But for those with food sensitivities or allergies or celiac disease, restaurants are special. They are places that are fraught with danger for us and have the significant potential to make us sick. When we find a safe place, we patronize the heck out of it just to make sure they stay in business. We make sure to tell our friends. We tell anyone that will listen about the awesomeness of this super cool restaurant that we can eat safely!
Also, my brother-in-law and I talked a lot about gluten free replacements for gluten filled foods. He said that they are never good. He is willing to eat naturally gluten free foods, but won’t eat the replacements, specifically, we were talking about pancakes. Again, the only reason he is gluten free is because they have a daughter that is gluten free.
Anyway, back to my story, I think that anyone should be able to eat naturally gluten free foods. Family members should be able to provide a simple meal of a protein with minimal seasoning, baked potato and/or rice, and a vegetable. Simple, healthy, food that will keep everyone safe and happy. I realize it isn’t sexy. It isn’t a whole lot of fun. It isn’t complex, but it will keep someone with celiac safe.
Furthermore, I’m not sure when complex, gourmet meals became the standard for dinner. Tacos are easy and with corn tortillas, naturally gluten free and much lower in fat and calories than flour tortillas. Lasagna is easy, simply swap out gluten free lasagna noodles for gluten noodles – the rest of it is naturally gluten free with a salad and Boom! Dinner is ready. Now, tuna noodle casserole, is probably off the table for those with celiac and it was pretty gross anyway.
I think we’ve become accustomed to convenience meals. A can of Bush’s black beans and rice with a piece of chicken seasoned with cumin and chili powder can make a pretty healthy, filling, inexpensive meal. If you wanted to get fancy, you could put those same ingredients over chips and melt some cheese, add salsa and an avocado, and call it nachos. One could wrap the chicken, rice, and beans in a slightly warmed chicken tortilla, roll it up, put it in a casserole dish with some others, pour salsa verde on top, sprinkle some cheese and bake until the cheese melts and you have green enchiladas.
Anyway, I’ve started rambling and am off my original topic. I want celiac to not be a burden. I want people to eat whole foods. I want people to be creative within their limitations.