When my husband and son were first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it was a major challenge for my husband and me. My son was only 18 months old at the time. So, he never even noticed that he went gluten free. But, my husband and I went through a tough period of adjustment. I always tell people who have just been diagnosed or are in the middle of a diagnosis, that the first year is absolutely the hardest. After that, it gets so much easier. Gluten free just becomes a way of life. In that first year, especially the first few months, you have to learn how to cook, shop, dine out and travel on a gluten free diet. Personally, I teared up a few times in those first few months when slowly navigating the aisles of my local Shoprite -- trying to find food to feed my family. I used to be able to practically run through the store. Now, I had this big blue binder of food lists with me. At that time, there were only a few products with gluten free labeling and most were only available at Whole Foods. I was a tired, working mother with little time and little energy -- grocery shopping became a real frustration at the beginning. But, for those of you with children who have just been diagnosed, please know that it gets a thousand times easier. I, and probably every other parent of a gluten free child, will attest to that. You'll eventually go grocery shopping every week without having to look at every label or call companies from the grocery store. Once you get to that point, you'll feel a real sense of accomplishment and you'll find yourself starting to tell people who learn that your child has Celiac Disease, "Oh, it's not that big of a deal. We're used to it and even Shoprite (or whatever the name of your local supermarket) carries a ton of gluten free food." Yes, things are still challenging and I sometimes still feel a bit sorry my husband and son -- and sometimes even for myself. I feel sorry for my son, for example, when I run out of frozen cupcakes 10 minutes before he has to go to a birthday party. I feel sorry for my husband when we've run out of sandwiches on a long car trip and he has to eat potato chips for 5 hours. (My son, of course, couldn't be happier about this type of "problem!"). And, sometimes I even feel a tiny bit sorry for myself when vacation feels like anything but a vacation, because I've had to make 8 sandwiches every morning before leaving the hotel room. (Believe me, I realize that this is completely unfair, because I don't even have Celiac Disease. But, I'm just being honest.) When these moments hit, I try to remind myself that it's truly amazing that eating gluten free food keeps my son and husband from being sick. Simple? No. Amazing? Yes!
Submitted on Jul 17, 2012 - Category: Lifestyle