To Be or Not to Be Gluten Free

I’m not talking about skipping out on gluten because Gwyneth Paltrow is doing it, or worse, Miley Cyrus. Or even because your doctor suggested you try it out (get tested for celiac why don’t you). If you think gluten is making you sick it seems obvious what you should do. Less obvious is what you should do if it’s happening to someone you love.

When Bunky was diagnosed at age 3, it was a no-brainer to eliminate all the gluten from our home. It made sense logistically and realistically, but also emotionally. We didn’t want our daughter to feel different at home. That would happen soon enough out in the world.

It was also clear that we would not eat gluten in front of our daughter. Duh. I couldn’t imagine not being able to share food with my girl. My husband took it one step further and decided to forgo gluten entirely. If Bunky can’t eat it, I won’t either, he said. Though his own health was a factor, I think he would have done it anyway. He’s that kind of guy.

My girl and my man snuggling before celiac.

So what about me? My decision wasn’t so cut and dry. To be honest, I wasn’t ready to cut out gluten entirely. To be more honest, I’m still not.

I know different families who do it all kinds of ways. Some people have two toasters and carefully marked G and GF items in their fridge. Some have totally G free homes, like us. Some swear off gluten forever, others just don’t eat it in front of their kids, like me.

There is no RIGHT answer. It just has to feel right to you.

Ultimately, a year and a half into my girl’s diagnosis, even with B at school every day and with the whole glutinous world at my fingertips, I still don’t eat much G.

Every now and then I get a bagel and cream cheese, my most missed gluten food group (sorry Udi’s, but I live in NYC, it’s like bagel city here, it’s not your fault), but when I’m out in the world, even without my girl, I usually go GF. Out of habit, mostly, but there is another G factor – guilt. I feel less of it than I did in the early days when I scarfed down G on the sly. Back then it often felt wrong, like I was sneaking around behind my kid’s back.

Gluten bagels at my husband’s job. Temptations every day.

My friend whose son and husband have celiac likens it to a bizarre eating disorder. I remember being at a kid’s birthday party and inhaling a slice of G pizza with my back to Bunky because I didn’t want her to see. It was one of my few “rule breaking” moments with her. She was too busy enjoying her own Udi’s pizza to notice, but it still made me feel crappy.

For me, eating gluten solo or even with Little Guy is not as enjoyable because I can’t share the experience (i.e. food) with my girl or my man. Food is communal, it brings people together, and this is a huge part of what makes being GF so challenging, because it affects people on a social level. Food is part of every facet of life, from sharing everyday meals with family to special occasions like holidays, festivals, and birthday parties.

Bunky’s awesome GF birthday cake from Tu-lu’s.

I’m already stressing out about Thanksgiving, the biggest food holiday for me. Last year we left my husband’s aunt’s home before dessert. Partly because we had a new baby, but also because there was NOTHING for us to eat. Thanksgiving with no pie is just wrong.

Not this year. Since I no longer have a brand new baby, I’ll be cooking up a storm to make my husband and daughter feel included at the Thanksgiving table, dessert included. Pie, brownies, cookies galore. Those gluten eaters will be gobbling up my goodies and I’m sure saying things like, oh wow this is really good for gluten free, which will make me cringe but hopefully I’ll remember to be gracious and just smile and nod. They will probably offer me the G items and I will decline as I always do. I will only eat what Bunky can eat, and so will my son.

Because we are a family and that’s how we roll.

How do you handle the G conundrum, if you don’t have celiac or a gluten intolerance? Is your household gluten free? Do you feel conflicted at times about your decision?

This post is just the tip of the iceberg. I have lots more to say on the subject as you can imagine. Coming up soon, how to deal with Little Guy eating gluten…

4 thoughts on “To Be or Not to Be Gluten Free

  1. I know you can’t hear me because this is blog-land… but… I give your husband a huge shout out! I think it’s awesome that he completely swore off gluten. Completely. I know I wouldn’t have the intestinal fortitude to stick to it when I was away from my little celiac.

    Here at the Kidd house- I only keep the bare essentials in my cupboard that are gluten containing. Like a loaf of glutenous bread for my husband and second son to have sandwiches on. My little celiac, Ty- does not care. If I made a habit out of keeping gluteneous donuts or cookies in the house- I’m pretty sure it would be a different story. I just figure that if you want a treat- then I am going to make one that we ALL can eat. And that’s that.

    I hear you on Thanksgiving this year… We are celebrating it at my in-laws house this year and they are less than understanding when it comes to going gluten free. I guess we just get to be the crazy ones and bring all of our own food! Actually… that might irritate my mother in law… so it’s a win-win!! 🙂

    Hang in there and keep sneaking your bagels- and keep writing! I love seeing what you are up to!

    • Oh, Jess, you’re so sweet! I’ll let my husband know about his shout out. It is awesome of him. But it makes sense for you guys to have gluten bread for other family members, in part b/c GF bread is so pricey (and sadly, not as soft). And yes, bread is one thing, donuts or other gluten goodies are another!

      Your Ty is AMAZING – I honestly forgot that you are only 6 months in (just saw your recent post). It’s so remarkable how well adjusted you and your lovely son are! Both of you deserve a huge shout out 🙂

      Good luck with Thanksgiving lady. We’ll also be BOOF-ing it up. I really only trust the turkey. Everything else I’ll have to make. Oy! But I’ll feel better knowing it’s safe. You know how it is. LOL about your MIL! I hear that.

      Keep up your posts too, I always enjoy reading about your Kidds.

  2. That’s awesome that your husband gave up gluten completely. And that you have given it up mostly (hey we all have our moments!)

    My house is not gluten-free. My boyfriend still eats gluten when he cooks for himself, and his cereals, etc… but he’s super careful about cross-contamination. Any meal I cook is obviously gluten-free. We have separate pots and pans, colanders and utensils….

    • You know, I find that when a child is diagnosed with celiac, it’s more “automatic” for a household to become entirely GF. Probably because it’s easier for parents and kids to stay safe that way. It sounds like your boyfriend is super careful about gluten and peanuts. The peanut thing kills me, it’s so intense and frightening. We have a friend whose daughter has a peanut allergy and the stories her mom tells me are really scary. But sites like yours help!

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