Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meet the Atlanta Gluten Free Dinner Club

Right after my Celiac diagnosis I joined the local Celiac support group and they were and are a great resource, especially for 'newbies', but I needed something more. Many people with Celiac don't go out to eat - ever. My husband and I consider ourselves just this side of being 'foodies' so not eating out anymore wasn't an option. One night, after getting a disturbing reply to a post about how to eat out safely (that said it wasn't possible), I frantically typed the words 'gluten free dining Atlanta' into the Google search box. And there it was in black and white - it seemed a bit of a tiny miracle actually - The Celiac Disease Meetup Group. From their home page I could tell they are a gluten free dinner group but are they all single? Since I'd been married for almost 17 years at that point, this group wouldn't work for me if they were a singles trying to 'hook up'. Finally the organizer of the group, Kerry, e-mailed me and explained the group and I joined as fast as I could type. You see, this group was exactly what I needed at that particular moment in time.

My first Meetup event (or dinner) was amazing. The meal was very good and gluten free but the best part of the evening was meeting so many others that had the strange condition that I did. I guess aliens hadn't taken over my body after all....lol! That first night I learned that I lived very near a great health food store that carried a ton of gluten free products. Since then I never attended a Meetup event where I didn't learn a thing or two...or even three. The group's organizer summed it up best by saying 'sometimes the best resource we have is each other'. You were dead on with that one Kerry! I've tried to make the monthly Meetup dinners for over 18 months now and usually only miss events if I'm out of town. It's always a good time with great food and friends. Later I'll tell you about a dinner where we had hot gluten free rolls - all we could eat of them. The place is was the Disney World of gluten free dining!

If you have Celiac, I highly encourage you to join a support group. Statistics show that people who are involved with others facing the same struggles, fare better than those that go it alone. This is true no matter the particular challenge. If you are lucky enough to have educated and thoughtful people running your local group (like I do), that's great! If you aren't impressed with your local group's leadership because they are preaching 10 year old gluten free rules like you can't have vinegar - think about starting a group of your own. Trust me when I say that all those naysayers out there spouting warnings like you can not eat out safely and you should never travel again are WRONG. You need to connect with others that have been where you are and can show you the gluten free ropes, so to speak. Help is out there but you might have to hunt for it. Good luck!

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