Monday, September 10, 2007

Eating out with friends - gluten free that is

My advice on this matter is simple. Don't do least in the beginning. You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to sit around a table full of pasta and bread and not be able to have any of it, for the first time anyway. I don't care how much you care about your friends and family - you won't feel very loving towards them when they're noshing on crab cakes and you're eating crackers you brought in your purse. Trust me...I learned this the hard way. These days situations like that don't bother me at all, since I see gluten like others see rat poison. But that was not the case when I first started navigating this mysterious gluten free existence. It probably took me a good six months before I was comfortable going out with someone besides my husband for a meal ...except my gluten free dinner club but more about them later.

If you're lucky enough to have a supportive spouse like me, they won't order crab cakes or three layer chocolate cake in front of you. However, your friends, and probably even your family, won't be so thoughtful. You might even find yourself wanting to cram a loaf of bread down someones throat at some point. Keep in mind that no one is trying to aggravate you on purpose - it's just that if someone is not on a restrictive diet themselves, they can never understand how it feels.

Eventually you understand that it's really not even about the food - it's about someone saying 'you can't eat this or that'. Let me tell you that I didn't like the words 'you can't' when I was a child and my feelings about them have solidified with time. If you tell me I can't do something...anything...and I will set out to prove you wrong and so far I've never failed at this task. It should be noted that my parents raised me to believe I could do anything I set my mind to. Without question that belief was one of the greatest gifts they ever gave me.

Throughout my life I've met people that were scared of everything...(changing jobs, starting a business, moving to a new place) and I've never understood them. Thanks to my upbringing I doubt I ever will. If it weren't for the wonderful foundation with which I was raised, I'm certain I would not be diagnosed with Celiac today. You see, I would never thought of questioning doctor after doctor, all of whom were sure I didn't have Celiac disease. I can never express the gratitude I feel for all the things my parents did, and continue to do for our family. By the way, they will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in December - congrats Mother and Daddy! Oh and for those of you not from the South, grown women routinely use the term Daddy for their fathers, no matter their own!

Okay I'll get back on track about eating out now. I did not believe others (mostly on Celiac message boards) who told me that my life of eating out and travel were over now that I had Celiac. Someone actually said 'the sooner you accept that, the better off you'll be'. As you can imagine I set out to prove them all wrong and thankfully, the book 'Let's Eat Out!' helped me do just that. It taught me (and showed me in easy to read graphs) exactly what I needed to do in order to eat out anywhere in the world gluten free. Well the book actually covers all top eight allergens but I only had to learn the gluten free stuff. The book is huge and I'm not going to pretend I read every word of it. But I read the important things that pertained to eating out with my own allergen of gluten, including all the sections that explained what dishes typically contain gluten all over the world. Let's Eat Out! helped me to take a trip of a lifetime, when many people told me to cancel my trip. Thank goodness those words 'you can't' kept popping up. Mmmm....we'll see who can't do what.

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