I am still fairly new to this disease, and for the first part of it, I didn’t take it seriously myself. I looked at every option to not to go gluten free. It wasn’t until my first endoscope that it really hit me. In the days leading up to it, I pretty much only ate bread and pasta.
Then, I went cold turkey. It was insanely hard for the first three days. Seriously, only three days. Then I stopped wanting all these foods that were making me sick. My house was cleaned out, and there were some pretty awesome substitutes. Plus, there are so many foods that naturally don’t contain gluten.
I found that my friends on the other hand, took more time to understand the severity of celiac disease. I had a few that were informed of every step along the way as I was learning it myself, and for the most part, they understood right off the bat.
Others however, took more time. Every time I’m out to eat, I do a quick explanation of why I can’t share anybody’s dinner or drinks, to please not try mine with the same utensil, and how I may not actually have a lot of selection in this particular place. Occasionally I get some weird looks, which I take as a prompt to explain how cross contamination works.
I find at this point it’s helpful to include what happens to my intestines when I ingest gluten, as well as how much of an anomaly it is that I’m a symptomatic. Next, I talk about what could happen in the future if I continue eating gluten ( 101 types of cancer, higher chance of infertility, etc.) . The seriousness of those commonly known issues then gets translated into the seriousness of celiac.
When people see how I order, it usually drives the point home with people at the table because truly nobody enjoys bothering a waiter/waitress. To order, I explain I have celiac disease, then ask how the restaurant prepares gluten free food. Adding the word ‘disease’ will make any person more serious about your health condition. I ask about the kitchen. In places that do not have designated gf items on the menu, or have very few, I ask the same questions but with more hesitancy.
There are some food places that have gluten free food, and 90% of the process is clean, but one crucial part gets missed because they are not catering to celiac people. Make sure that the person taking your order understands this is not a diet choice, but rather an actual disease.
If a restaurant doesn’t seem as if it’s up to the standard needed for clean substitute foods (gluten free pizza crust that may be baked in a normal oven, for example), choose an option that naturally does not contain gluten to give your body more of a chance to stay totally healthy.
It’s definitely a process. Last week I had to explain to a friend that yes, more than just bread contains gluten, and just a few hours later witnessed another friend I haven’t seen in months explaining to a chef how more than 10 ppm will make me sick. Ups and downs.
-Use the word disease
-Ensure whoever you’re speaking to understands celiac is not a diet choice
-Explain cross contamination.
-Lastly, briefly explain the symptoms if you ingest gluten
Yes, it takes some time, and a lot of re-hashing, but eventually family and friends will be right by your side to inform waiters, new kitchens and anyone else preparing your food, how important celiac really is.