Yes it’s the 1st of December today! We can officially start thinking about the big day. For Coeliacs, a lot of the planning will be about what to eat, how to avoid cross contamination and making sure you enjoy your day just as much as the non-Coeliacs. But whenever there is a family occasion you will inevitably deal with family members commenting on your diet – some helpful, some not.
The Understanding Uncle – I hope you all have one of these. This family member gets it – perhaps they know someone else with dietary requirements, perhaps they deal with their own intolerance/disease/IBS and they know exactly how to help you avoid cross contamination. They give you a knowing look as you unpack your tupperware of gluten free goodies and help you to avoid any gluten in the shared dishes.
The Clueless Family Member – As much as you explain it there will always be one family member who just doesn’t get it. “What is it you can’t eat again – cheese?” they’ll say as you tuck into your homemade bits and pieces. “Would you like some brussel sprouts? Or can you not eat those?” they’ll say, a perplexed look on their faces. These family members aren’t being malicious – perhaps they’re from an older generation where awareness wasn’t as good, or perhaps they just forget, but either way they’re not trying to annoy you. Just calmly keep explaining and hope that one day they’ll understand what gluten free means.
The Gift Giver – This family member has remembered you are gluten free and has gone to a lot of trouble to find something for you. For example, one of my aunties buys Schar’s gluten free pretzels for me whenever we have a family occasion. These types of family members are trying their best to show you that they get it and want to help! I hope you all have someone in your family who thinks of you at Christmas meals!
The Curious Cousin – This family member will be constantly looking at your food and wanting to try some. “Oh is that your gluten free XYZ? Can I try some?” they’ll say as they grab a bit of gluten free pizza from the Boxing Day buffet. This family member is not being malicious either – in their own way they are trying to be understanding and want to see what your food is like. This is an opportunity for you to show non-Coeliacs that gluten free does not have to mean taste free! If you can, it doesn’t hurt to encourage them to try things you’ve made!
The Teaser – There is always one family member who thinks it is hilarious that you have to eat gluten free. They will make jokes about gluten free food being bland, tease you by trying to offer you gluten or simply make fun of your food. These people are often not trying to be mean – they are probably just unsure how to approach your dietary issues and attempt to joke around instead of showing their lack of knowledge. Go with it so long as they’re not too rude!
The Denier – This family member still refuses to believe you about your illness. “You’re not going to have Christmas pudding?” they’ll say, probably adding something like “I heard gluten free was just a fad anyway.” If you’re unlucky enough to have someone like this in your family (I luckily do not!), just bite your lip and ignore them!
The Other Coeliac – As it’s a hereditary disease, you might have another Coeliac family member. You can give each other sympathy looks across the table as The Denier and The Teaser get on your nerves and you can share your gluten free Christmas goodies with someone!
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