The Crappy Side of Christmas.jpg

The holiday season should be a time of family, fun, and celebration. The world’s best well-intentioned treat makers come out of hibernation and every group of people you associate with NEEDS to have a get together to prove how important you are to one another and/or to tell you how much they appreciate everything you do. Sounds like a dream. Who wouldn’t love to get treats and eat meals with family, friends, and coworkers all month long? I’ll tell you who, people with severe food allergies.

Okay so I don’t actually have a severe food allergy. I suffer from a disease called Celiac Disease. It is an autoimmune disorder that acts a lot like a severe food allergy to wheat, barley, and rye (and any other ingredient that may include the gluten protein). I don’t have to carry an epi-pen or worry about dying from anaphylactic shock but I do have to worry about horrible cramps, bloating, and sitting on the toilet for several hours while half-digested food moves through my intestines at an unnaturally fast rate because my body thinks I’m being poisoned. On top of that, if I let it happen too much it may lead to other issues like colon cancer. Two of my three daughters also have the disease. One gets debilitating headaches to the point she goes to bed and sleeps the rest of the night-even if it comes on at 3 PM and the other pukes her guts out.

One of the hardest things for me about this whole time of year is that everyone means the best. Nobody sets out and thinks- I’d love to poison the Winkler family tonight. At least I don’t think people are planning that… Anyway, there are several different categories of well-wishers. The first category is completely oblivious that we even have this problem. They bring their huge plate of cookies and treats and I smile and say thank you. My husband usually eats one, my daughter usually eats several, and me and the other two usually watch in salivating torture but we make it through. If we are invited to a party with this category, we usually just eat before we go and make up an excuse about why we aren’t hungry.

The next category are the people who think they know what it means (in our case to be “gluten free”) but they really don’t have a clue. These are the most dangerous. They buy special ingredients or make the treats, salads, etc. in a way they think will be safe but don’t understand that just because they didn’t add flower does not make it gluten free. These are also the people who get offended if you don’t eat what they prepared because they think they made it special so you could eat it… Frankly, I try to avoid these people at all costs. They give me anxiety to the max and it is not worth going to the gathering if you have to deal with this. Please be kind to people who have food allergies and don’t be offended if they don’t dare eat your food.

The last category are the people who really get it. These people are the best! They bring non-food items as gifts or you know you can trust their treats. They ask questions any time they aren’t sure how to make something that is safe or when they are unsure of an ingredient on the nutrition label. They also understand the cross-contamination issues and scrub pots, pans, bowls, etc. down before they make your food. Even if you decided not to eat what they brought because you may have some question about the safety, they understand and are not offended. These people are worth hanging out with. Thankfully, I have several of these in my life.

Hopefully this little post will help someone out there realize there is no need to be offended when someone with severe food allergies won’t eat your food. We just don’t want to be sick. Also, there are other things besides treats you can do for gifts.