How I Became a Gluten-Free Mom

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My sons were diagnosed with Celiac Disease when they were only seven and eight. After that everything changed for our family.

First, my youngest boy was diagnosed and then our gastroenterologist told us that all of our children would have to be tested. That was when we discovered that my other boy had it too. Both had to go to the hospital to get a biopsy of their small intestine to confirm their diagnosis.

Out of the three, only two were celiac patients. He went on to explain how what they had was different from an allergy and how it would affect their lives from now on. 

Caution: Bread
Image: Caution: Bread illustration via Shutterstock

With their diagnosis so many things came along as well. We needed to be aware about “gluten”!! To tell you the truth, before that I had never even heard about gluten. Didn’t know what it was or what it did to your body.

Now all of a sudden, we needed to avoid not only gluten, but wheat, oat, barley, etc. The first thing we did was schedule a visit with a pediatric nutritionist to make sure the boys were eating right and in the correct amounts. 

Foods became a source of anxiety not only for the boys, but for all of us. My daughter was asked to quit foods that had gluten, until we all settled into the boys’s diets.

I remember asking her to stop eating cheese turnovers because they were one the boys’ favorite foods, and if they saw her eating them they would get upset. After a while, when she could finally have them, they were difficult to enjoy because eating them became a source of guilt for her, as well as for me for making them.

Not only our meals became like walking the plank on a pirate ship, but going to the grocery store also became a reason for stress. If God forbid I left home the list of what we needed to avoid, shopping would become a nightmare.

What list? The one that told me what my boys could NOT eat or drink. At the beginning, we often forgot taking the list so when we would get home from the grocery store many of the items we had purchased couldn’t be eaten by them.

Another thing that couldn't be overlooked was the fine print on n  food labels.  All those ingredients food companies put in their processed and non-processed foods that are written in very small words and suddenly had become lethal for our boys.

Those years were difficult, but we were able to overcome them as we gained confidence shopping by researching beforehand the products we usually bought.

Now parties were another story! Having them go through the excruciating process of saying “No, thank you” was awful. During parties, while party trays full of delicious appetizers were hassled around. My boys would put “a poker face” (which is a face that hold no expression) and repeat "No, thank you" over and over again.  They would tell me not to tell anyone that it was that they couldn’t eat them.

They felt better, if they only would say what I called the three words of pride, “No, thank you.” It was like they had a choice when saying no.Things got so bad at the beginning that my oldest son once told me that he no longer wanted us to celebrate his birthday because without a cake it wasn’t a real birthday. That’s hard for any parent to hear. Probably you’ll ask me,  “Why in the world didn’t you bake him a gluten-free cake? Easy, because I stink at baking gluten-free. I’ve tried, but always end up with an awful tasting cake. Over the years they gave up on my baking skills and would tell me not to even try. Even though they always tell me that I make great pancakes.  

As their childhood left and their teenagers year came along we built the foundation for a gluten-free lifestyle. They haven't always been truthful to it and have paid the consequences because I can no longer watch them like a hawk.  Nevertheless, I like to think that I gave them the tools so they can take care of themselves and I survived through its ups and downs as a gluten-free mom.   

Maritza

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