As we enter the holiday season, we will have more parties, more places where food will be, and we will be out more and more often. Its time to pull out the Teflon Underwear.
People may not be kind. They may say celiac is a made up, bourgeois disease of the new millennium. Its a fad that will fade like the fat free fad faded (say that three times fast). They will say, just eat the pumpkin pie filling but don’t eat the crust. They might even say that you have been eating this food all your life and it never ever hurt before, why now?
Those are the most common, but I hear a million other reasons why someone with celiac should be okay with whatever food a family normally eats during Thanksgiving and Christmas time. These are food heavy holidays and it is really, really hard for those of us with food issues. So, I always dig out my Teflon Underwear, put on a smile, and do the best I can.
Teflon is the stuff that makes non-stick pans non-stick. I mean that nothing should stick to us and everything should just roll off. There are lots and lots of ways that we will be bothered at this time of year. It can be a nightmare.
However, most of this stuff just has to roll off our backs. We aren’t going to change minds. People are going to try to accommodate us or they aren’t. We can’t control what others do or say. We can only control our reactions and plan for the worst case scenario. We also will make ourselves miserable if we let everything get to us.
We don’t need to let them see us sweat. The more calm and relaxed we are in the scenario, the better off everyone will be. Holidays are not the time to plant the gluten free flag and demand everything be gluten free to accommodate us. A little flexibility and respect for others will go a long way in getting the flexibility and respect we crave.
Nobody should ever eat gluten or bow to the peer pressure to eat gluten.
I always end up crying at Thanksgiving for the same reasons most of us get upset. It gets to be overwhelming. It is really, really hard, especially when you don’t get the support you feel like you need. It is okay to go away from everyone and take a moment. Take a moment to mourn all the changes that this diagnosis brings. Take a moment to be frustrated that nobody has listened and you are stuck eating turkey and mashed potatoes and that’s it – no dessert, no casseroles, no nothing. Take a moment to get yourself together.
Go to the bathroom, go to the car, just get away when you need to. Cry if needed. Screaming might not work so well around a bunch of people, but if a pillow is nearby a quick punch might help. Then wipe the tears, freshen your makeup, straighten your clothes, put on a smile, and get back out there to enjoy your family and friends.
It would be great if the family would make a few items gluten free for us. It would be better if they offered to make an entirely gluten free meal for us. Unfortunately, that is probably not the reality for most of us. Families have their traditions and asking someone to change that is a big deal. So, a little compromise and flexibility is what is called for here.
Flexibility, compromise, and a little planning can make everyone have a great holiday – gluten and non-gluten eaters alike. Make the sweet potato casserole gluten free. Cook the gluten free stuffing – but don’t expect the gluten eaters to enjoy that one – that has always been a hard sell in my house. Find alternatives to the french fried green beans and cream of mushroom soup for the green bean casserole. Or toss the casserole all together and make green beans almondine – its probably even a little healthier. Add cream to the mashed potatoes instead of milk to make them extra creamy. Make ambrosia as a salad. Make an apple crumble or pumpkin mousse with freshly made whipped cream instead of pumpkin pie.
Because the bottom line is what is the holiday about – is it about the food or is it about being closer to the ones you love and that love you. If it is about the food, then you will be disappointed. I guarantee. If it is about spending time with friends and family, then the food fades away and you start to just be able to enjoy the moment. Yeah, food is around, but it isn’t the most important part of the day anymore.
PS – Sorry to all the men. This was probably gender slanted towards women, but I’m a woman so that’s how I write.