I recently heard a story about someone who felt she “owed” it to her family to eat normal for a meal during a celebration event and this made me incredibly sad.
Is it because our medicine is food that makes it so hard for people to follow a strict gluten-free diet? Is it because we associate food as something our bodies need and really can’t understand how consuming gluten with celiac disease impacts our health now and in the future? Is it because for some of us the negative effects aren’t immediate like anaphylaxis so we treat it with less seriousness?
If your family member had lung cancer, would you expect them to go to a cigar club with you for your birthday?
Well, then why would we expect someone with celiac disease to indulge in a piece of cake for a birthday?
Our society and culture is so wrapped around food, making it difficult for us to eliminate gluten because we feel our social lives are taken from us or our ability to have fun with friends. The crazy thing about living gluten-free is that it only confines us if we give it permission to do so. Gluten-Free is challenging and so is staying safe, but I’ll preach it over and over and over that with careful planning, a successful gluten-free life can happen. I live a full, happy, busy gluten-free life because I spent the time learning where and what my body loves to eat. I know what to order at even the scariest restaurants but still keep my fingers crossed knowing I did the best I could with the situation at hand. And, very rarely have I had a problem. Usually it’s when I let my guard down that I get glutened.
It is entirely possible training for a fitness competition and dealing with the negative and rude comments from people about what I ate during those times prepped me for the ignorance of people I meet now while living gluten-free. But, in all honesty, I don’t really care what people say about my eating habits because I’ve NEVER. FELT. BETTER. That’s really all our friends and family should be concerned about when it comes to our health. The foods I consume are healthy and not slowly killing me so where’s the problem?
At some point, you need to accept that others opinions don’t really matter. As long as you are educated about your disease, following the guidelines and living a happy life – that’s what is important. For me, I’m not asking anyone else to live gluten-free. I don’t promote gluten-free for people who don’t need it and I don’t go on and on about my problems unless someone asks me. Don’t get me wrong, I love educating others about my disease and gluten-free living and I’m a huge big mouth advocate too! But I know what I can eat, where I can eat and how to order – which makes all the difference in the world when it comes to staying safe.
But I can tell you that I would never, ever risk my life to feel normal. And you shouldn’t either! I’m the only one that will suffer the consequences and frankly there aren’t any gluten filled foods worth being sick again. (A really hot soft pretzel is very tempting at times though, after all I am human!) Check out an older post of my about why cheating on celiac is a horrible idea.
Bottom line is this… You don’t OWE anyone, anything when it comes to YOUR health.
One of my favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt –
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”