In some ways it went quickly, and in others I feel like we have been gluten free forever!
We have definitely had some ups and downs over this past year. I have a lot to say about it, so don't feel like you have to read it all. I just wanted to be honest about our process so I can remember and in case someone else goes through something similar. Feel free to skip to the bottom to see pictures of Emmet :)
Some of the difficulties:
- Even though Emmet knows we "don't eat food we find" and that we eat "gwuten fwee", it has not stopped him from finding and eating gluten outside our house. Cookies at play areas, cupcakes at a baby shower, or just 2 weeks ago, a slice of bread at a party. Chad and I don't like having to hover and be so persistent when we are any place where gluten is, but it's what we have to do. As a result, we do not feel comfortable leaving him at church nurseries or sending him to preschool at this time. This is something that should change as Emmet gets older, though.
- Missing out. This one is harder on me than Emmet, but he will definitely experience it as he gets older. Just last year I could eat whatever sounded appetizing, have cake in the break room at work, join my friends out to eat wherever they happened to be going. Our family and friends really make an effort to be gluten free and/or have gluten free options, but it's just hard when instances still arise. Like my high school reunion, where I paid $65 like everyone else, but couldn't anything besides raw carrots and broccoli. Or how we have to take our own cake to birthdays. And now pregnant, I am the least fun person to invite to a party - I can't eat gluten and I can't drink! Honestly, knowing that this will be something Emmet goes through pushes me to keep living my life like I did before. I want to be able to sympathize, but also to be able to encourage from my own experience. I don't want him to opt out of fun stuff because the food part makes it difficult. I want him to live a fun and full life.
- Insensitivity. This comes from people in the service industry, mostly. I am getting used to people being annoyed by "demands" and questions about their food. Or the manager of a restaurant who told me that "people don't have that (gluten problems) up here"... in Lewisville. Or just the misinformation - like the restaurant who told me on two occasions the milkshakes were GF, only to be told on the third occasion that they most definitely contained gluten.
- Tex-Mex. I could really go for a chicken enchilada right about now. More traditional Mexican food is gf, but it just isn't the same for this Texan!
- Traces of gluten/cross-contamination. After 6 months of being gluten free, I found out I was still being exposed to trace amounts of gluten. I had to change my chapstick, check all the ingredients in my lipstick (it was ok), change toothpastes, get rid of most of my spices, check my vitamins, eat out even less, and become even more diligent in finding out the processing of store bought food. Basically, we cannot eat anything that was even made in the same factory as something that contains gluten. Thankfully, with our most recent bloodwork, Emmet and I both show no signs of gluten!
- It's expensive.
But, overall, we really are doing well. There are a lot of hard things, but I wouldn't trade our health for relatively minor inconveniences. Most of the things are postive:
- Feeling better. Emmet is completely back on track growth wise. He is a perfectly healthy, happy, well-adjusted kid who doesn't really notice that his diet has changed. Plus, this also has us eating a lot of vegetables, fruit, grains like brown rice and quinoa, etc. and a whole lot less processed foods.
- Chad really likes being gluten free. He even asked for a gluten free cake for his birthday this year. He notices a difference when he does eat or drink gluten these days and feels much better when he goes without it.
- We are very thankful for all of the GF options, this is really the best time to be GF, there are options for everything: mac and cheese, bread, pasta. We have all kinds of yummy alternatives.
- Emmet does get sick if he eats gluten, like painful stomach cramps and throwing up sick. It varies depending on how much he has consumed, from just a few crumbs to a full serving (which makes him throw up for hours). It is unbelievably terrible to witness. BUT, I am thankful that all the poison gets out of his system and he feels normal the next day. A lot of celiacs feel bad for days after they have had gluten.
- Emmet can go trick-or-treating! A ton of candy is GF- Reese's, lollipops, skittles, starburst, butterfinger, and more.
- We have had wonderful support from family and friends. My parents have made their house gluten free since Emmet is there a lot, and Susan makes us a gluten free dinner when the family gets together on Sunday evenings. The flexibility and understanding of everyone means a lot and makes things much easier for us.
One year later
What a cutie :)