BOOF. My new favorite acronym. But first, a word. No, make it two.
These are loaded words to a celiac. Say it and they know exactly what you’re talking about. Say it to someone else and their eyes may glaze over. If this happens at a restaurant, then we leave because it means the food may not be safe even if it’s gluten free. This is perhaps the biggest misperception about being gluten free as a celiac. While someone who is gluten intolerant can handle a few crumbs here and there, a celiac can’t. You take the F right out of GF the second you use the same cutting board, colander, deep fryer, toaster, condiment jar, etc.
It’s not just restaurants we have to worry about, but family kitchens too. This is tricky stuff. It’s one thing to stop dining out, but harder (though not impossible) to tell a doting grandma she can’t cook a batch of (supposedly) gluten free cookies because while her kitchen appears pristine, gluten is most certainly hiding in the holes of her colander, in the grooves of her cutting boards.
I think it’s important to try to educate people in our lives so they “get it” but if not, then we BOOF: Bring Our Own Food. Because no ones’ hurt feelings – not even grandma’s – are worth my kid getting sick. Sorry Charlie.
We’re still relatively new at this. It hasn’t been all that long since Bunky’s diagnosis and we’re figuring out what our boundaries are. One thing I realized recently is that our boundaries have to be flexible. What was “okay” the last time we visited family may not be the next time. The more I learn about cross contamination – even now, a year later! – the more anxious I get about other people cooking for us. If I can live a year GF and still find mistakes in my own kitchen, how can I reasonably expect other people to understand what is a rather complicated issue?
The truth is I can’t, and I don’t. I’m happy to BOOF anywhere we go – be it a family gathering, a birthday party, a school function. It’s a lovely gesture when people who care about us want to cook safely for Bunky, but lately I’ve been secretly wishing they wouldn’t. This is unchartered territory for me, a life-long people pleaser. I’m the kind of person who would rather stay uncomfortably quiet than risk hurting anyone’s feelings, but suddenly I am forced to speak up, to courteously but firmly refuse kind gestures, because the health of my daughter comes first.
How interesting that this celiac journey is making me stretch and grow in ways I never would have expected. Though it’s not just celiac, it’s motherhood too, and now it’s all wrapped up together.