So, I admit that I've been absolutely terrible at keeping up with the blog posts. I hate to use the phrase, 'life happens' because that would just be an even more terrible excuse as to why I haven't been posting. I believe that in life, if something is important to you, you WILL make time for it. No excuses. No if, ands, or buts.
Although my sorry excuse of not having time to post kinda is the truth, I think it's because there hasn't been a great deal of inspiration for me to write. Until last week.
I was at an event for one of my clubs and the idea struck me out of the blue.
Here it is: Why are celiacs or those on a gluten free diets so damn sensitive?
Okay, so maybe I didn't need to use the word 'damn' but I think it just goes to show how much I didn't realize how sensitive I was about my own diet and people's opinions about it.
Let me key you in on this. Everyone knows that those with restricted diets who have to watch every single morsel that goes in their mouth have a difficult time finding safe, allergen friendly foods. But, where do we, as celiacs or gfree dieters, draw the line between not caring about our diet at all and caring too much? And is there even a possibility to care "too much"? It is our health in any case.
I'll give you an example: my family has been so supportive since my diagnosis and start of my gluten free diet. But on occasion, I'll get some of these comments:
Why are you being so picky? That's why you're so skinny and can't gain weight.
A little bit is not going to hurt you- stop being so scared of everything.
Etc etc the list goes on. So, how do I react to this? Of course, I react defensively. Here I am, having to eat a restricted diet that is hard as hell to follow and my own family is telling me how I should eat and making sneering comments about my diet and ultimately my personality. Sometimes, I'll get moments of complete support, almost over-supportive, and other times I'll get the comments above or get sarcastic replies to my questions of "Can I eat this? Is this safe?"
I get it. It's frustrating for those who aren't on a specialized diet to cater to those that are. Over the weekend, I learned a phrase that is surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) fit for this situation. It is from St. Francis who said, "...grant that I may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand." This quote symbolizes the traits of an effective listener, and in my case where I reacted defensively to my own family, I sought to be understood by them instead of trying to understand why they acted the way they did. This puts things in a whole new perspective.
For example, did I ever stop to think about how hard it would be for them to have to suddenly cater to a restricted diet? What about their own sacrifices in what they wanted to eat because they wanted to make me feel included so they perhaps sacrificed flavor, favorite foods or certain restaurants because of me? Did I ever think about how much they have already done for me and how much they have supported me thus far?
The answer is no. No, I really haven't. And now when I write this, I feel apologetic and guilty. Guilty for being defensive and for overreacting and self-victimizing myself.
So many celiacs I read about online and know in real life seem to self-victimize themselves. They have the mindset that no one can ever understand them, that they have to stick together because it's them against the world. But, I'm here to tell you that this mindset is so backwards. It actually hinders us from working toward a brighter, more accepting future for celiacs and those on gluten free diets.
If your friend gives you food with gluten, accept it with kindness and share it with someone who will enjoy it even if you can't eat it. It's not about the food, it's the thought that counts. If someone doesn't understand what gluten is or constantly forgets you're on a special diet, try not to take it personally. My motto is "educate, don't hate." If someone goes out of their way to cook something gluten free for you, don't sneer and give a disgusted face because you know it's full of cross contamination. Again, accept with kindness and graciousness knowing that in your heart, you are appreciative of their efforts to cater to you. Politely decline and give a thorough explanation without being overly sensitive. Remember that those who aren't on specialized diets will never truly understand what it's like to be on your diet, but appreciate those who make an effort to try and understand.
In the end, what I'm saying is again summed up by St. Francis's words: Seek to understand, not to be understood. So much of what we do and say powerfully affects the people around us. Be conscientious, be kind, and in the words of one of my good friends, always be charitable.