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Friends Dont Let Friends Eat Gluten
February 8, 2011
There are many faces of friendship and love. Living Without receives an amazing number of requests from readers who want to help a loved one:
“My friend's daughter was just diagnosed with celiac disease and I want to bake her a birthday cake.”
“My husband can’t eat dairy or eggs and he really misses bagels.”
“My niece needs a First Communion cake.”
“My friend reads only Spanish. Where can I get recipes for her?” [Go to www.translate.google.com and paste in http://www.livingwithout.com.]
Caring comes in all shapes and sizes. When someone extends herself or himself to meet our special dietary needs, it’s a gesture of true friendship. Love can touch the stomach every bit as powerfully as it can touch the heart.
I came across this essay written by food editor Beth Hillson. Although Beth wrote it way back in 2002, it contains a powerful lesson that stands the test of time and bears repeating. I want to share it with you on this week before Valentine’s Day.
“Help! I’m losing all my friends! They think I’m strange because of this crazy gluten-free diet,” wailed a young woman who was just diagnosed with celiac disease. My son, also a celiac, has expressed a similar sentiment. He’d rather starve than eat a hamburger without the roll in front of his friends, or raise an objection when his friends select gluten-filled party food. He’d go hungry before he would mention what he can’t eat.
The truth be known, a lot of us worry more about what people think than about what’s good for us to eat.
Let’s get real. I can understand the social stigma of attending a formal event in cut-off shorts or posing for a photo with spinach in your teeth. But we’re talking about health here. If you look at the proverbial glass as half full instead of half empty, there’s something special about a special diet. Socially, it can be an ice breaker. It makes for great conversation. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to make others aware that we don’t all eat alike.
People respect a person for taking good care of themselves. They’ll take good care of you, too.
When I met my husband, it was love at first bite. On our second date, he cooked me a complete gluten-free meal. The pièce de résistance was dessert. He found a recipe for thumbprint cookies in the local newspaper and adapted the cookies using rice and almond flour. The moment I sank my teeth into those cookies, I knew he was a keeper!
After all these years, the memory of that dinner brings back tender memories of the early weeks of our relationship. Most of all, I’m reminded of what it means to have good friends who go the extra mile. It’s the kind of support that makes it easier to stay on a restrictive diet, the kind that makes a person feel special, not strange.
Are you ashamed to speak up about your special dietary needs? My advice to the young lady was this: “If your friends think badly of you because you can’t eat certain foods, get some new friends!”