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To expect my friends to understand that I am a Coeliac

(142 Posts)
Reredos Sun 07-Dec-14 11:15:56

Basically these are two female friends that I have known for 20 years. We meet up with their husbands every month or so for dinner and we often go for weekends away. I have been recently diagnosed as having Coeliac disease through a gut biopsy but a mutual friend was diagnosed two years ago. I have heard what they say about the Coeliac friend, how she is attention seeking and is loving the drama of having a special diet. I am probably closest to this Coeliac friend and had researched the diet so that I could offer her safe food and also support. this actually meant that when I was diagnosed it wasn't such a big thing for me as it knew so much about it.
The first thing one of these friends said to me when I told her I was diagnosed was 'I hope you are not going to be all silly about it like xxx'
I have tried to explain the danger of contamination with them but they refuse to accept it. Everyone seems to know a coeliac person (probably a gluten-intolerant) who eats cake every now and then and 'just deals with the consequences'
We have one of these trips away booked for New Year and I am frankly dreading it. I will take my own food but they will see that as a slur or that I am trying to draw attention to myself. They couldn't be more wrong. I hate being different. I have no problems with following a gluten-free diet at home or when going out with my family. It is so easy to buy gf food in all of the supermarkets and I actually prefer to just take a sandwich in my handbag and not make a fuss.
I am getting unreasonably anxious about this and I need a coping strategy.
The weekend will involve at least one posh restaurant meal and fish and chips on the beach. I know they will say that I can have the chips because they are just potatoes but, if I then say that it's not recommended due to contamination of the oil by battered products, it will result in melodramatic eye-rolling and being told to get a grip.
The husbands of these women are lovely. I don't think that they really understand the contamination issue either but they are not judgemental. My husband gets on well with all of the group and his advice is to not worry about it until it happens and that I can take my own food and that there will always be something on the menu that I can eat.
It doesn't help that I am a vegetarian. I know that this is a self-imposed restriction but, after 40 years, I can't change. I can manage to eat some fish and I have tried to eat meat (by putting tiny pieces of chicken in rice) but I hate it and I shouldn't have to eat meat (or gluten) to keep everyone else happy.
Am I being unreasonable? Should I eat whatever is prepared for me at friends houses/restaurants and 'deal with the consequences' however detrimental to my health could be?

Pagwatch Sun 07-Dec-14 11:20:53

Of course you shouldn't have to eat and deal with the consequences. But I think you do need to have an 'either understand that this is a serious health issue and stop badgering me or fuck off' conversation.
Obviously not quite those terms but 'friends' who treat the medical need for a special diet as 'attention seeking' are not really very bright and not really good friends.

Fwiw the posh restaurant meal is a non issue. Most restaurants are perfectly capable of dealing with gf. It's never ever been a problem for us.

ilovepowerhoop Sun 07-Dec-14 11:22:48

A lot of restaurants cater for a gluten free diet these days. Could you research where you're going to eat and contact them in advance for suitable menu options?

StatisticallyChallenged Sun 07-Dec-14 11:25:35

Agree the fancy restaurant should be able to cope, could you maybe phone them in advance to check?

It might also be worth checking with the chippy, a few around me have a separate fryer just for chips - they're thinking more about veggies and vegans than coeliacs but worth checking possibly?

That said, your friends are being idiots and I'd be tempted to send them an email explaining that Coeliac is not a choice or a fussy diet but a medical necessity and you would appreciate if they did not make comments about it as you are not willing to live with the potentially severe consequences.

Esmum07 Sun 07-Dec-14 11:26:50

Go to coeliac UK and print out the info about the disease and the associated conditions, particularly bowel cancer. If they still insist it's a faddy person's way of getting attention after reading that, then they aren't worth calling friends!

Cornettoninja Sun 07-Dec-14 11:27:54

Maybe not be polite about it? If one tries the 'stop being so silly' line go off on a full blown lecture about how you'd rather keep the (probably already damaged) intestinal tract you have as healthy as you can because when it starts dying it generally needs to be removed. Explain it's not an 'intolerance' it's a full blown autoimmune reaction and your body literally responds to gluten by trying to kill off your digestive tract.

Besides that what exactly the fuck is their problem? You're not asking them to eat any differently, precisely why the hell does it inspire the need for them to comment?

(I may have a little pmt confused so feel free to time down the jist if you're so inclined grin)

Cornettoninja Sun 07-Dec-14 11:31:20

I also agree with pp, the trend for gluten free diets has made eating out so much easier so there is a silver lining. I've noticed nut free, gluten free and vegetarian options all highlighted on most menus.

mausmaus Sun 07-Dec-14 11:31:29

yanbu at all and you know it.
maybe they are not really friends if they can't see how dangerous they behaviour is towards you.
you are 'not making a fuss' you are making sure you stay healthy.

catsofa Sun 07-Dec-14 11:33:25

Agree with Pagwatch, you need to have a "fuck off" conversation with them. Maybe you could do it now to clear the air before you go? Tell them how much you're dreading their stupid comments and that it's spoiling the trip for you already because you're stressing about their attitude.

If they're too selfish to come up with some alternative to chips on the beach that you can enjoy as well as them then they really aren't worth your time. Good luck!

scarletforya Sun 07-Dec-14 11:34:33

They sound thick. Stop grovelling though and caring so much what they think. Just do your own thing and call them out/ignore them if they eye-roll.

Purplepoodle Sun 07-Dec-14 11:37:17

Must admit I did not know about contamination where you gave fish and chips.

FlorenceMattell Sun 07-Dec-14 11:38:32

Your friends sound horrible people. Not very intelligent and self absorbed.
I wouldn't go on the trip, find new friends who care about you.

Bunbaker Sun 07-Dec-14 11:38:37

Your "friends" sounds incredibly insensitive, ignorant and stupid. I agree that they need to understand what being coeliac involves. Either print off some info from the website or give them a leaflet about it.

Pumpkinpositive Sun 07-Dec-14 11:38:52

These people are not your friends.

Chippednailvarnish Sun 07-Dec-14 11:40:01

They don't really sound like friends...

CwtchesAndCuddles Sun 07-Dec-14 11:42:04

My brother is a head chef and would always cater to your needs but please call in advance and talk to the chef (if you know where you will be eating) so that they can prepare something to your taste, it's much harder for the kitchen if they don't have any notice and service is in full swing.

As for your "friends" they sound like they need a sharp talking to! True friends offer support and try to understand.............

KatieKaye Sun 07-Dec-14 11:42:29

They are being stupid.
Back in the 30s my uncle died as a baby because his coeliac disease went undiagnosed. He was perfectly healthy when bf, but became very ill during weaning. Taken to hospital he was there for several weeks but got so weak and then got pneumonia and sadly died. By the time it was diagnosed it was too late and too much damage had been done to his little body.

Yes, that's an extreme example but it shows how serious it can be. Because of this our whole family was always very aware of coeliac disease and how a change in diet could have saved his life.

Janek Sun 07-Dec-14 11:53:36

My sil discovered that some pub chains coat their chips in flour before frying, for some reason, so she often couldn't have chips when out. Might be worth checking with the chip shop too.

In conclusion, what a pain in the bum for you, what's their problem? They can have what they like!

TheMaddHugger Sun 07-Dec-14 11:56:09

Im Sorry OP. They dont sound much like friends sad

Reredos Sun 07-Dec-14 12:02:14

Thank you everyone. I do agree that I don't actually think I am bring unreasonable. Both women have degrees so are not actually unintelligent and I have tried to inform them as much as possible whilst trying to not bang on about it. Both families are of the hardy type who never have a days illness because they are tough as nails and have the 'right approach to life'. I dread to think how they would cope if one of their children were diagnosed with a food intolerance or allergy. I honestly think they would refuse to accept such a diagnosis.
You are all quite right in that they are not really 'friends'. They would be appalled to hear me say that but true friends would do as I did and read up about the condition. I have joined Coeliac UK on FB and presumably they see those posts. I also occasionally post if someone has made me a nice meal and gone to a lot of effort to avoid contamination hoping that they will get the hint.
I will research the restaurants in the area that we are visiting. There must be an easy meal that I could request such as a jacket potato and salad. Are all salad dressings safe? Probably not, I will have to look that up. Maybe an omelette? I would honestly be happy just to have a plate of vegetables. I did that at a wedding recently where my gf option was a vegetable tart with filo pastry (the chef thought filo was gf!). I sent it back and it was replaced with a plate of veg served with chips that looked like they were the batter coated ones! I just ate the veg as the hosts had already noticed that I had sent one plate back!
We are in a self-catering apartment so I can easily deal with breakfast and make a sandwich for lunch. I thought I could offer to make a massive chilli for everyone for the first night which would sort out one main meal.

Thanks for the advice everyone. It's all quite new to me and I am going to have to toughen up (and find some more friends!)

Songofsixpence Sun 07-Dec-14 12:07:22

YANBU, and of course you shouldn't eat something that will make you ill just to keep them happy

My DD is coeliac and we had similar when she was first diagnosed. Mainly from MiL of all people hmm the upshot of which, is that she doesn't get to spend any time alone with DD as her insistence that it's "new fangled nonsense" means I just don't trust her to follow her diet.

It's so easy to cater for, most supermarkets offer GF products, and we've never been in a pub or restaurant since her diagnosis that doesn't offer GF meals, that I don't understand why MiL makes such a silly fuss about it

MrsItsNoworNotatAll Sun 07-Dec-14 12:08:37

Have to agree with everyone whose said they don't sound much like friends.

You need to get tough with them. You seem to deal with it without a fuss, it's they that are many a big deal of it not yourself.

If they are going to moan and bitch about something that isn't really their concern then bollocks to them.

meltedmonterayjack Sun 07-Dec-14 12:33:38

They sound ignorant and mean imo. So if you were asthmatic would you be being silly to have to use your inhaler? Would you consider not using it, to pander to their stupidity and meanness? If you were diabetic would you eat a chunk of cake to keep the peace? I hope not. If you have been diagnosed with coeliac then you need to keep to a gluten free diet. And that's that. I'd not be nice at all if someone started going on about it. I'd have to have a serious talk with them and if they couldn't or wouldn't accept it, I'd have to review just how good a friend they are.

A friend of mine has recently been diagnosed and the whole group of friends have enjoyed finding and making suitable treats/cake for birthdays that we can all enjoy. We are glad she feels better since her new diet. Surely, you want your friends to be well and happy.

notapizzaeater Sun 07-Dec-14 12:39:31

They are not your friends if they won't try and understand. My ds is coeliac and only 2 of his friends will have him round for tea - the mums are so stressed about cross contamination. I now send him with an uncle Bens rice pot.

Bunbaker Sun 07-Dec-14 12:42:42

I have two friends who are coeliac. I once did a 16 mile round trip especially to get some GF soy sauce for a rice salad I made, so that they could eat it.

Your friends are selfish.

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