Are you having people over? Then somebody needs to cook. Is it somebody’s birthday? Let’s go get a cake! Did somebody pass away? Don’t forget to take the Funeral Potatoes with you to console them. Is somebody sick? Make some homemade soup and drop it off for them. Your boss wants to thank you for a job well done? Order pizza for lunch! Are you meeting somebody for the first time? Let’s do it over dinner! Is there a sporting event on TV? Somebody bring the deep-fried foods!
For most people these are high points in their day. For me it ends up being an irritating, frustrating, and often, angry part of my existence. If I didn’t rely on it so heavily to keep me alive then I would happily give all food up just to avoid the hassle.
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease nine and a half years ago, and though now it’s easier to find gluten free products, it’s still just as hard for me to enjoy many social situations. At work this really comes to a head for me around Christmas time. That’s when all of our vendors want to bring lunch in for us to thank us for our business. That’s all fine and dandy, but I can’t eat anything that they bring in! One or two will offer to get me something special, but if they are getting it at the same place as the other food, I decline. The last thing that I want to do is get sick because the person making the food was busy trying to get it all done in time and didn’t change their gloves after making the giant sandwich and then making my salad. Also, as I pointed out to one vendor who offered to get me a salad since I couldn’t eat the pizza he was bringing, how about if I make a whole ton of really good smelling food… but all you’re allowed to eat is a salad as everybody else sits and partakes of the good-smelling stuff.
Maybe I’m being oversensitive. Or, perhaps I’m not being sensitive enough to the people who have never had to deal with this before. I’ve tried it both ways. I will decline an invitation and then I get the guilt trip that everybody missed me and really wished that I was there. I’ve accepted the invitation and then sat there, eating nothing, while having to explain a billion times why I can’t eat anything there and making the host/hostess feel guilty. I’ve accepted the invitation and brought my own food to eat, again making the host/hostess feel guilty that I can’t eat anything that they’ve made. No matter what I do it seems that I either offend somebody or lay a guilt trip on them. That’s not my intention! There is nothing more that I would rather do than attend a function and be able to laugh and enjoy myself fully. But they all involve food! And not just any food, but gluten-laden food!
Here, Kerry, here are a few carrot sticks and some celery. Don’t mind me while I eat this heavenly-looking piece of cake or inhale this wonderful-smelling pizza.
Hello, Hostess, since I can’t eat your food I did bring a plate of gluten free cookies to share. Oh, but you just placed them on the same tray as the full-of-gluten cookies. Okay… never mind.. I didn’t really want to eat any of them myself.
Hello fellow party-goer. Yes, those are gluten-free cookies. No, they aren’t hard to make. No, thank you, now that you have just touched the really crumbly regular cookies and then touched the gluten free ones, I’m no longer hungry for them.
The people with nut and shellfish allergies know what I’m talking about. We can’t just scrape off the stuff that we’re allergic to and be able to consume the rest. No, we can’t have just a little because yes, it WILL hurt us. Will gluten kill me immediately? Nope, but it may cause some very undesirable consequences in polite company.
I don’t have a solution for this problem, either. So I will continue to get angry and irritated over the use of food as a motivational tool or socializing medium. I will continue to wish that everybody could experience, just for a day, what it’s like to have to be in some of these situations as a Celiac. And I shall continue to watch the gluten-free edible that I have brought like a hawk to see if it’s contaminated at any point so that I don’t eat it.
In the meantime, PLEASE don’t offer to get me a salad. PLEASE don’t offer to have a veggie or fruit tray there for me. Actually, what would make it easier is if you would just not invite me to these things. I wouldn’t be offended! Not at all. I am perfectly happy in my gluten-free house, safely hidden from the gluten-filled temptations of the outside world.