What Do You Do When Your In-laws Won’t Feed You?

eating out gluten free

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you all had a great holiday. Personally, I’m pretty psyched for 2015 and am happy to see 2014 in the rear view mirror.

Let me ask you a question. During the holidays, did you eat any meals at someone else’s house? And if so, were you treated like crap? Did you feel like an outcast because of your food restrictions?

If not, awesome. You have true friends and family.

If so, I’m sorry. It looks like you’re not alone.

I received the following message on my Facebook page over the weekend:

Hi Gluten Dude. I just recently came across your page. I have a question for you about gluten etiquette I guess lol. For the past two years I have not eaten gluten; everytime we go to my mother-in-law’s house, whether it be Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc., she has absolutely nothing to offer me for food.

I have to sit there and watch my husband eat. My sister has gone gluten-free in the past year and she deals with it with her husband’s family also.

Are we expecting too much that our family members would have at least one thing to offer us? From our standpoint we would never have somebody come to our house and not have something for them to eat .

I would ask or look it up online but to us it just seems that they obviously don’t care enough to try to have something.

What is your whole take on that situation?

Oh boy, do I have a take on this. First, I’ll be gentle Dude.

I’m so sorry you have to experience this. Do I find it absolutely ridiculous that your own family can’t prepare something for you? Absolutely. Actually, ridiculous is being too kind. I find it rude, ill-mannered and just totally crappy.

So much for gentle Dude.

Who has family over and not have something for them to eat?? And don’t tell me it’s too difficult to prepare a safe meal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It ain’t rocket science folks. There’s this thing called the internet where if you WANT TO LEARN how to keep a celiac safe, you can look it up.

But that’s the key: you need to WANT TO LEARN. If you can have your family over and simply watch your daughter-in-law not eat, well…that doesn’t say a whole lot about you, now does it?

I do have a quick solution for you. If you know they are not going to make anything for you, bring your own food. Problem solved.

I gotta ask…what exactly is your husband’s take on this? He’s the one who should be taking the issue up with his parents. Is he really willing to sit there and eat dinner while you aren’t eating anything?

My suggestion is that you open the lines of communication. Maybe your in-laws don’t believe in the whole gluten-free thing for whatever reason. Maybe they do and just feel too overwhelmed by it. You will never know unless you talk openly with them.

There’s that word again: communication. I’m telling ya folks…it’s the key to fixing life’s problems.

Sorry for the tough love. It comes from the heart.

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57 thoughts on “What Do You Do When Your In-laws Won’t Feed You?”

  1. I went so see my in-laws for the first time who live abroad during the Christmas holidays and they were very well-prepared when they had us over. My boyfriend’s mom had cleaned the kitchen, literally scrubbed the oven and kitchen utensils. She had then made special food for me only to completely separate this from the rest of the food. The reason it all went so well? (despite her low cooking skills 🙂 ) Simply use straight communication of course. Both me and my boyfriend had explained the issue to her and she bought books and read up about the challenge. I believe if you communicate your intolerance and excuse yourself for it, people will most likely follow your path and excuse their ignorance. But if you stand up for yourself, offer to explain rather than making it a problem, positivity and understanding will follow. Good luck and all the best for 2015!

  2. Maybe I’m weird, but I’m totally fine with going to someone else’s house and them having nothing for me. I always take food with me and would rather do that than spend hours on the toilet and weeks afterward in pain. Most times when people have tried to get something for me it’s been labeled gluten free, but still something I can’t have. For example – a friend got me a pack of Damm Daura for my birthday that is kept in the fridge as emergency beer for guests. My mother-in-law brought a box of crackers to a gathering at my house that was made in a shared facility. Sweet and very appreciated gestures to be sure. But why waste the money?

    Think back to when you were first diagnosed and how overwhelming it was. How many times you messed up, missed an ingredient which is probably obvious to you now, and made yourself sick as a dog. That’s what you’re facing all over again when you’re eating with someone who doesn’t cook this way daily. The potential for something to go wrong is great. That is not to say that people shouldn’t make the effort. They should if they care anything about you. But some – try as they might – will just never get it right. My mom is one of those people. I truly miss her cooking but if I tried to eat at her house now, it would kill me. She just can’t remember what’s what. Not only that, but she doesn’t have a dishwasher and she can’t see as well anymore, so the chances of food being left on a hand washed dish is great. Not worth the risk, but I love her for trying.

    My kitchen has to be a safe zone. That is non-negotiable. My house, my rules. But when it’s someone else’s home and kitchen, you gotta go with the flow. Gluten free is very difficult to get right if it is truly gluten free. I’m not going to hold anyone else responsible for that. As long as they don’t make an issue of me bringing my own food, we’ll get along just fine. 🙂

    1. Agreed! 100%

      I refuse to eat from a shared kitchen. I would be so pleased if I didn’t have to constantly deal with, “But it’s gluten free! I made it just for you!” No. Not eating it. And then everyone is mad at me. But I’m not sick for the next 10 days.

    2. That’s what I do too, bring my own food over to someone else’s house. It’s a hassle at times but worth it to avoid an exposure. For Christmas morning breakfast, which was at my sister’s house, I made two dishes and brought them over with my own serving utensils. My sister put together a dish at my house but baked it in her oven, taking the precautions to cover it. She of course used my dishes and utensils to put it together. I also brought over a serving utensil for it the next day. Under normal circumstances, I just throw together a meal for myself and bring it over. For parties, I may have a snack for myself but bring something else for everyone else to enjoy, usually something “regular” so I don’t have to worry about being deprived of a contaminated gluten-free treat.

    3. I’m completely the same way and always bring my own food. For the first year of eating gluten free, I ate the “gluten free” food everyone was nice enough to make for me without me even asking them to. I’m very thankful for that but I just got exhausted of getting sick and pretending I was fine for the rest of my visit so I wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. And then going home and being horribly sick for six weeks because of one little slip up. I started trying to be more cautious about asking what ingredients they used and how things were prepared then sitting down to eat and still being terrified of my food. Eventually I found myself at my grandparents Christmas party guarding the oven (which contained the gluten free macaroni they made for me) with a plate of food hidden in the laundry room next to the kitchen (because I couldnt keep an eye on both) while everyone else was relaxed and socializing. I had isolated myself. I realized I was much happier bringing my own food that I make ahead of time. It has worked out great for me so far and fortunately everyone understands why I feel the need to do it.

    4. MacCeliac (Erik)

      MusicMidget……how did you get into my head and write down exactly what I was thinking?!?!?!. Well said!

      I have no expectations that others supply my food…I always bring my own. I’m there to socialize.


    5. Thank you for saying this so eloquently! These are my thoughts on the subject as well – education & communication will always be key 🙂

  3. I agree, communication is key. My own family still doesn’t get it most of the time so I’ve found that I feel much more comfortable bringing my own food to events rather than starve or get sick. I used to get a lot of flack for bringing my own food (still do from some of my siblings) but I’ve learned to ignore it. If I’ve done all I can to explain myself and educate them then its their own insecurities causing their reaction. I’m all about being proactive. Sitting and starving is not going to get them to change; you taking the steps you need to be happy, healthy and full of yummy food will.

  4. My mother’s family does the same. I also have a mentally handicapped child who they expect to just sit there while they eat desserts. They know. It has NOTHING to do with communication. They just don’t think they should have to accommodate us OR keep unsafe items out of reach of my child (13 yrs old, mentally 2-3). I should keep her in one place and they shouldn’t need to do anything special for us. They eat whatever they want with their diabetes. I do not go to other’s homes to eat. Ever. It’s just too hard. I try to host lots of things and make all the food and ask that they don’t bring anything other than maybe chips that we have never had trouble with. It costs me a lot more, but it’s the only thing I can do to keep my child safe. (We also have nasty dairy allergies.)

  5. Yes, they’re being rude, but I agree with Musicmidget – most times, it’s just easier to ask my hosts to not worry about it, I’ll take care of it myself. Because yes, even people who mean well (“Look, it says gluten-free on the label!”) still miss the little things (“Manufactured in a facility that also handles wheat”). For me, that wouldn’t be worth the risk, but if I don’t eat it, I’m rude and ungrateful. So for folks who don’t see me that often, I think it’s easier to just bring my own or eat before going. Or possibly help cook in the kitchen, so I can see what’s happening with everything, but that’s not always an option.

    For closer friends and family (those I see on a regular basis), I communicate with them beforehand and things go a lot smoother. Plus, I can always help in those kitchens, so if they have a question about something, they’ll ask me since I’m right there with them. 🙂

    I agree with the Dude, that your husband should be saying something to the parents. It’s awful of him to let them be so rude to you. I would be appalled if I was hosting and I had a guest who couldn’t eat anything, and since they didn’t get the hint when you just sat at the table without eating, it’s time for someone to speak up.

  6. Communication first, of course. There’s probably multiple misunderstandings at work here.

    If that doesn’t work – I would say get together with your sister and at family meals, make your own dishes to go. There are some pretty awesome take and bake gluten free dishes that you can bring over to the family and pop them in the oven for your consumption. (I recommend the lasagna from OMG Its Gluten Free! but there’s plenty of other great dishes out there!).

  7. You are not alone! I face the same deal at my in-laws. It’s not that they don’t try, but they’re just not in tune with what I need in order to eat safely. The good (?) thing is that my mother-in-law isn’t the greatest cook in the world, so I get to skip out on mushy asparagus, dry ham and weird mashed potatoes. Major score.

    Take advice from these others and me: Turn this negative into a positive. You get to bring your own awesome food! I usually try and bring something I’m super looking forward to. Why can’t I have cheesy pasta with vodka sauce on Thanksgiving? Please keep your Cranberry Thing to yourself.

    Should your husband say something? Mabes. But you need to also advocate for yourself. Bringing your own food sends a message that you can and will take care of yourself. Happy 2015 and good luck!

  8. The least they could have done was ask you what you will eat for dinner and if there was a specific product they could buy or if there is something they could have on hand such as fresh veg or fruit. Personally I would never eat food prepared by my in-laws. Best intentions and all, but they don’t get it 100% and like others have said you don’t want to seem rude when someone goes to the trouble of making you something and you don’t trust it.

    This past Thanksgiving was my first since diagnosis. I basically made a full thanksgiving meal at my house and made myself a platter to eat during dinner at the in-laws. For once the others were jealous of my plate, instead of vice versa. Yes, it was more work on my end, but i made enough that my husband and I had thanksgiving leftovers for a few days (which we love), and I didn’t feel left out of the holiday or the meal. I also made a dessert to share with everyone.

    Even if it’s just cheese and crackers, always pack yourself something when you visit others. It saves so much aggravation.

  9. I have been gluten free for 15 years – before there were “substitutes”.
    Been through all sorts of situations even yours.

    1 – you should know what is safe and what is not – ask questions – there may be something you can eat and not realize that.
    2 – if they are as cold -hearted as they seem just fat out don’t go
    3 – if you want to go – bring your own food.

    I have learned that people are willing to accommodate you if you simply educate them – if not and you want to be at the event for some reason bring your own food (I usually let them know ahead of time that I am bring my own ____ and I will need the stove or cook top etc. for about a 1/2 hour – that usually did the trick.
    My in-laws were certainly on the Un-caring side big time and they never gave in. I never went hungry – I just brought my own – others often wanted to try what I brought and I let them have nothing more than a taste but they were relentless about not providing anything “special” for me.
    Now that my husbands parents are gone – I am glad he had that time with them and I made my healthier eating a non issue.
    I know it is hard and I know it hurts (it will always be an issue) but it is how we handle it that makes all of the difference in the long run.

    Good luck and remember – it’s OK to bring your own – in fact I find it safer.
    Time with the family can’t be replaced.


  10. I call the hostess first and communicate my eating restrictions and ask if they’d be offended if I brought my own food. I have well intentioned friends and relatives that say, “I’ve made you something gluten-free” only to find out they used a condiment that isn’t gluten-free or they cooked it alongside a gluten containing food. I usually make enough so everyone can taste the food I brought. I do place it away from gluten containing food so there isn’t any contamination. If I’m spending the night, I take my own pan, spatula and sponge. It’s just safer and I really don’t expect others to know all they’d need to know to keep me safe.

  11. Once again, Gluten Dude is right, communication is the key. Your in-laws probably are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. You can approach it in the vein of teaching your mother-in-law how to adapt whatever holiday meal she is planning for you, and then helping her cook that day. This can be a win-win for everyone – she learns how to adapt a recipe for you, you get to eat, and the biggest bonus is you get to spend time with her creating a meal that all can share! Utilize the services of a dedicated gluten free bakery for stuffing, rolls, and pie shells so she is not completely overwhelmed by the idea of making everything from scratch, and provide her with all-purpose gluten free flour for gravy and side dishes.

    My husband will eat my gluten free stuffing but also LOVES Pepperidge Farm stuffing, which is not gluten free. So now he helps me chop the onions and celery for both stuffings, we both get to eat stuffing, and we spend time together in the kitchen. I just make the gluten free stuffing first and stuff the turkey with that one. When he carves the turkey and takes the stuffing out I have a dedicated bowl for it and we all call it “Debbie’s Special Stuffing,” keeping it separate from his stuffing.

    Finally, Google gluten free bakeries for the types of products I mentioned above. Often they will ship. I use Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery in Hinsdale, IL. Gluten Dude, I suggest you check them out, they are AMAZING!! (Their cupcakes are to die for!!!) They are a little pricy but their products allow me to cook a holiday meal where my gluten-eating relatives do not know it’s gluten free unless I tell them. My mother was amazed this year that everything on the table, except for the Pepperidge Farm, was gluten free.

    Good luck!!

  12. Bring your own food. Got something you like making? Freeze portions and have a supply in your freezer, then nuke ’em in the microwave. Bring grapes.

    On the other hand, I don’t think I’d feel so comfortable eating in front of someone who had nothing. Maybe that special celiac someone could bring their own food? I guess I think it’s asking quite a lot for a normal person to suddenly be able to make a GF meal. Are those spices GF, how bout that oil? Utensils washed really well?

    Bring it with you or have boiled eggs and grapes.

  13. Well now this is indeed a different perspective! My husband is trying his best, not so gently, to remind my in-laws NOT to cook for me.

    Every time we visit during a meal something has been sidestepped in the preparation and the in-laws look so disappointed that they made a mistake. I really don’t want them to feel bad. They forget about spice packets, cream of soups added, products manufactured in shared facility with wheat, and confuse what I make to be gluten free as really gluten free. (I make gf cheesecake or other gf desserts sometimes to share and that has convinced them I can eat any cheesecake, etc).

    I think the realization that it wouldn’t improve came this last summer. My incredibly kind mother in law really wanted to feed me and bought a special pan to cook a single chicken breast in with no seasoning or oil (she couldn’t remember what had gluten) and she packed it up and brought it to me. Only problem is she packed it up in one of those plastic clamshell containers that she had bought cookies in. There were crumbs all along the bottom that the chicken had been sitting in. I brought it to the table and my husband snuck it onto his plate and ate a very dry, very plain, piece of chicken for me.

    We’ve come to a place where I’ve learned to say “Thank you” for the food they’ve prepared for me, I just don’t even try to eat it or ask what is in it anymore. I think their hearts break a little each time I tell them that what they made isn’t gluten free. And it seems to upset them when I bring my own food because it shows I don’t trust them. So I just eat before we go over. And my husband will just keep asking them NOT to cook for me.

    1. That’s how my grandparents are – they keep trying, but forget the little things. I think you’re right, I think it breaks their hearts a little each time when I still can’t eat it. 🙁 Now I suggest appetizers and cocktails, or dessert at my place, with the excuse of “Oh, I want you to be relaxed and be the guest, and let me do the hosting!” And then we still get the family togetherness, just without the stress about the food.

  14. I cannot imagine not serving food to my loved ones. And if they are restricted by health issues I would serve them special food. That is me though.
    My issue for this lady is… when you have children and they need to eat gluten free how will you handle that? Stand up. But do bring your own food too.
    I am reminded of a friend of a friend losing their child because someone decided that their peanut allergy was a joke.
    Food allergies are no joke.

  15. My Mother-in-law is gluten free thanks to me, so is my husband, but we can barely get a safe meal prepared by my FIL. He insists a little gluten (or in my case butter or milk – I’m dairy free too) will do us good, and he GUARANTEES if we didn’t know it had gluten in it, we’d never notice. YEAH RIGHT!! He continues to cook with canned College Inn-style broths for my MIL, and she doesn’t care enough to complain. At my house, he made GF and regular pasta, then proceeded to stir them and the sauce with the same wooden spoon!! AARGH!!

  16. In-laws? My own parents won’t make anything I can eat, so I always have to bring my own if we eat there. Which, honestly, is ok with me, because then I can be sure it’s truly gluten-free. But usually I just have them to our house. And if I eat at anyone else’s house, which is rare, I will take a dish I can eat and a utensil for the dish.

  17. I totally agree that communication is the key to helping you feel safe.

    My wife, like I imagine everyone with celiac, has concerns with eating anywhere we go that isn’t our own kitchen including her parent’s home. I’ve found that the best way for her to feel more comfortable and avoid as much anxiety as possible is to take an active lead in trying to talk to my family, friends, restaurants etc. to try and help hammer home the importance of taking the small steps necessary to make sure she is safe. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I speak for her or that she’s incapable of getting her point across. It just helps to make folks realize that she’s not one of the fad dieters and helps her to feel more comfortable when we have to/want to go places. Speak with your husbands/wives and ask them to at least have a conversation with their family about the importance and ease of having safe options. Speaking as the husband of a celiac I can say that it is quite possibly the least you can do to speak to your family so your significant other is safe and comfortable.

  18. I agree with those here who say bring your own food and don’t expect others to be able to get it when it comes to cooking gluten free. Maybe some people can cook truly gluten free while also cooking a regular meal at the same time, but many people have no idea just how careful you have to be to make sure no cross contamination happens. After 14 years of being gluten free, my husband is just now, finally, “getting” the whole cross contamination issue. And no, he isn’t stupid, although he can certainly be careless with his gluten food absentmindedly. I wouldn’t expect anyone to figure it all out overnight. No, it isn’t rocket science. It is just a matter of learning. But when you don’t have to learn like your life depended on it, most don’t learn the lesson very well. I always bring my own food. I wouldn’t expect anyone to provide a truly gluten free version of the meal just for me, or expect someone to cook, and all guests to eat, a 100% gluten free meal just for me. Heck, even some Celiac’s don’t get how to cook gf! I wouldn’t expect a non Celiac to. Gotta take care of yourself. Don’t expect others to do it for you. In order for a Celiac to know they will have 100% safe food to eat when visiting non Celiac friends and family, BYOF.

  19. Communication makes a huge difference but some people just don’t get it or don’t want to put in the effort. Some family and inlaws, I feel like it is such a hassle for people to make/buy me something that I feel bad asking them. I usually will bring something I can eat or I will eat before or after.
    My brother and sister in law are awesome and put so much effort into learning about gluten free cooking, how to read labels and preventing cross contamination. For christmas they made me gluten free pasta with meatballs and all the other food was gluten free. They also made me a separate dip for dessert and searched for gluten free “graham crackers”

  20. I have been GF for several years & my FIL was shocked at Xmas Eve when I was food cheating at their house (they host every Xmas Eve) and unless I bring a spread (and that means enough for everyone to share; not joking) then I either starve, or cheat, or oh wow, how generous – “these chips are gluten-free, or this salad is gluten-free” Ummm… thanks?! Oh don’t mind me, I’m just over here enjoying my chips & salad, you enjoy that feast over there, I’ll binge eat when I get home. Don’t host if you don’t intend to feed everyone, okay rant over.

  21. Hi,

    wow, guess I’m lucky. My Mother-In-Law doesn’t know all that much about GF, just that anything with flour should be avoided, or replaced with GF flour. And she’s a great cook. If she’s not sure about anything packaged, she hands me the pack and asks if it’s safe for me. This Xmas we had delicious goulash, using only meat, vegetables and some real spices, served with normal boiled potatoes. If there was any flour involved, she always uses the pack of GF flour I bought. She even bakes a delicious fruit cake using that flour and we all enjoy it. Never been sick after eating any of her cooking. I just bring my own stuff as well (bread and breakfast cereal) for other meals.
    The next day my Father-In-Law made goose, with potato dumplings, made the old-fashioned way, using real potatoes and potato flour (certified GF). Again, all sauces are naturally GF (not out of a packet!). And it’s not too difficult.
    As GlutenDude states, simple communication is the key.

  22. A slightly different perspective here … the writer says “For the past two years I have not eaten gluten” – not that she’s celiac, or gluten-intolerant. If this is how she has presented her situation to her in-laws, they could see it as a fad diet that they don’t place much value on. If she has eliminated gluten for medical reasons, she needs to be clear and up-front about it – not “I’m not eating gluten” or “I’m choosing to not eat gluten”, but “I have celiac disease and can’t eat gluten on doctor’s orders” or some such. If she’s avoiding gluten for non-medical reasons, that suggests that she could potentially tolerate it in small amounts (after 2 years, she’d have to be careful about how much she eats), which means she could potentially eat some of the in-laws’ offerings.

    All that said, if it is a true gluten intolerance (celiac or otherwise) where cross-contamination is a real issue, I agree with the many folks who suggest bringing your own food – it’s the only way to ensure it’s safely prepared. (It took my family a while to accept my condition and learn to accommodate it, but they came around eventually – 10 years later, I can safely eat at their place, and my mom has taken it on herself to figure out how to make her favourite baked goods gluten-free.)

  23. Well I would say it takes more than one. Have you had heart to heart with spouse.
    My spouse and I had a blow out over Christmas as he went all over place without me because I didn’t feel safe; he knows, has seen me sick and has fair knowledge of situation. I’ll be damned if I sit at table and watch everybody stuff it in and go on and on how good it is.
    Bring own and hope for the best. I can’t ask someone to make gluten free for me, not comfortable. The last Xmas party I attended I brought mini cooler of mini sandwiches, Vegas, cheese balls, and my absolute favorite Silly Yak sugar cookies! Still not quite comfortable with that either but getting better!
    Or you can choose not to attend! Your choosing not be in gluten infested home!
    Communication is best, good luck in future!

  24. I guess I’m pretty lucky, I have amazing in-laws and family that have educated themselves and will ask lots of questions. On the flip side I also don’t mind bringing my own food or eating before I go somewhere but most people are pretty good about accommodating me. When I host dinner parties I always ask questions about what people can and can’t eat, I would feel horrible if I left someone out of the dinner. I just think it’s plain bad manners not to accommodate everyone when you are hosting a dinner.

  25. Thankfully my family has always asked what I could eat. Most often than not I bring my own. When I didn’t I was getting a lot of processed crap. I prefer real food that is gluten free. My family is Italian and I bring my own pasta and it works. I don’t eat their meatballs though. Would it be nice if they made some GF for me? Yep, but again I bring my own.
    I travel with my own food all the time. It’s just easier. I find that when I do pull out something I have made, everyone wants some. (like my Xmas cookies that I made this year with Jennifers Way flour.)

    Hey, found this today. Might be helpful for the newbies. http://www.delightglutenfree.com/glutenfreemyths#.VKrhFdLF9ul

  26. Thankfully my family has always asked what I could eat. Most often than not I bring my own. When I didn’t I was getting a lot of processed crap. I prefer real food that is gluten free. My family is Italian and I bring my own pasta and it works. I know their sauce recipe and it’s GF. I don’t eat their meatballs though. Would it be nice if they made some GF for me? Yep, but again I bring my own.
    I travel with my own food all the time. It’s just easier. I find that when I do pull out something I have made, everyone wants some. (like my Xmas cookies that I made this year with Jennifers Way flour.)

    Hey, found this today. Might be helpful for the newbies. http://www.delightglutenfree.com/glutenfreemyths#.VKrhFdLF9ul

  27. My MIL always has something for me to eat and it’s safe as she gets the cross contamination issues as well. Other members of the family, not so much. I always take my own. Always. Otherwise I am watching other people eat. I usually also take enough to share and put it in 2 dishes. One that is just mine and one that’s for the table. I guess I have been doing that long enough that they don’t bother making me anything but I get it. You just want someone to make an effort.

  28. Let me ask from a different angle. My wife is GF, but that is because she is bloodwork- and biopsy-confirmed as having Celiac disease. This person simply states: “For the past two years I have not eaten gluten”. Why? Choice as part of the stupid fad these days, or real issue (Celiac or at least gluten intolerance issue)? If there is truly an underlying health issue, then there is no excuse at all for the family not making some sort of accommodation (even if that is “working with” you to understand that you’ll bring your own). If, however, you’re doing it as part of the modern fad diet, I’m sorry, but I have very little (not none, but small) sympathy for you. Going GF takes a serious amount of work and time and commitment. Our kitchen (heck, our house – including soaps, hand-creams, lip-balms, etc.) is completely GF. Any “contraband” that enters the house is left in its sealed package and either taken to work by me (I’m completely free of any gluten issues), returned to sender, or dumped into the garbage. To ask someone to provide a GF meal – a truly safe GF meal with no cross-contaminants (as has been made clear by most of the other comments here) is no small feat, and is completely unreasonable to expect of a non-GF kitchen! I’m vegetarian, but if I go to someone’s house and they have prepared a meat-meal, I will eat it (albeit limited, as I’ve lost the enzymes to process it), but I’m safe to do that. If this person is GF for the fad, suck it up and eat. If this person truly has gluten health issues, as everyone has said, communicate, and either you’ll find what jerks your in-laws are or you’ll find a solution that works (if not perfectly) for all involved.

  29. Host! Invite people to your home and cook, that way you know it is safe and have no issues! Don’t let them bring anything 🙂
    Or bring your own food – but seriously, I strongly believe your hubby should be standing up for you. One year we went to my father in laws house for thanksgiving and he had nothing for me, at all! I had been gf for 2 years and he knew, but didn’t care. My husband got very angry and we found a 24 hour grocery store and bought fruit and veggies. But really just be prepared and fight for yourself! 😉

    1. I’d suggest a small amendment – don’t let them bring anything EXCEPT WINE!! That’s always a welcome contribution in my home. 🙂

  30. If my in-laws (family!) didn’t serve any food I could eat, I’d help myself to make a boiled egg or two in their kitchen – and any fruit I could find I their fridge. Rude? Maybe, but so is their not even trying to offer you food. To avoid an unpleasant situation, always bring our own food or snack, or eat before you go and nurse a glass of wine or cocktail (or two) at the table while they eat. You can also keep a food kit in your car – GF oatmeal, cereal, snacks, salad dressing, fruit, GF soup, crackers, etc. along with paper plates and your own utensils. You can just restock this as it is used (keep an eye on the fruit). When I travel to my in-laws (they can not figure out gluten free and don’t care), I mail a package of food items to their house a few days before I leave home. I make it my issue, not theirs.

  31. I understand this oh so well. I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2001 (my mother has it, too). My grandmother still won’t prepare food for us at family gatherings (nor will anyone else). And they won’t allow us to bring in our in, or deliberately contaminate it if we do. We’re expected to be at Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings lasting 14+ hours, in a rural state with nothing else around.

    They do this with other things, too. Weddings where we’re to be “in attendance” all week leading up to festivities. Or worse, family reunion campout things – a week in the woods, no safe way to cook, and if we don’t attend, we’re horrible relations and should never have been part of the family.

    I wish I could say it gets better, but it really doesn’t. Maybe if you host, and don’t let others bring food? Put on a gluten free spread.

    1. Maggie, this is unacceptable. The family won’t make you food you can safely eat and they won’t allow you to bring your own? I would refuse to go if my family was so cruel. They are demanding you starve and be miserable while everyone else feasts and celebrates? That is BS. Perhaps they do not understand the magnitude of the disease and need an education. If anyone in my family treated me in this way I would never participate in any of “their” celebrations.

  32. I got so sick at my in laws house this past Christmas. I will never trust anything they feed me ever again. I hit the bathroom over and over until I finally broke down and asked my husband to take me home.

    I have a pretty bad case of degenerative arthritis in my lower back and sacroiliac joints. The only bathroom that is private in their house is upstairs. Thr last trip I went upstairs on all fours. The grand kids followed me every time I made a bathroom run. I actually think they were worried about me.

    My hubby and his mom had a pretty bad argument over the whole mess. They gluten ex me bad and my mother in law kept trying to give me some old sweaters she said were way too big for her so they should fit me just about right. Excuse me? I’m not a big person either. She can donate them if she wants them gone. They’re too big for me too!

    I sure hated to see it end like that. My mother in law is 88 years old and has aortic valve stenosis. I hope my husband and his mom patch things up….I will never eat their so called gluten free food ever again! My niece is gluten free…sometimes. She thinks it will make her slim and healthy. Bah!

  33. Gluten Dude, this is some hot topic, mostly because everyone who has Celiac or gluten intolerance can relate to feeling left out of the party because we cannot share in the feast. It’s happened to all of us at one time or another, or in some cases every holiday. It hurts no matter if it’s our own flesh and blood, in-laws or even friends. We can pretend to be tough and just pack our little bag of food, but yeah, it still hurts when you are excluded from a feast or celebration. It is isolating and can be very miserable. I have discovered that you really find out what others think of you when it comes to food, meals, and celebrations. If they are unwilling to do anything to accommodate your needs and don’t even try then that says a lot. It’s extremely hurtful. On the other hand if someone goes out of their way (even if they screw it up) and put forth an effort to try and include you in the meal and celebration that shows a tremendous amount of love and kindness. Clearly something that is lacking in many families which is unfortunate. Hopefully this year people will be more compassionate. And maybe we as Celiac’s can be a little more forgiving too.

  34. My in-laws don’t care what you like/don’t like, don’t care what you can/can’t eat, think food restrictions are just being a ‘fussy’eater. They are totally down with my sister-in-law being a vegetarian by choice, but have no regard for gluten free requirements. On top of it, they are thoroughly insulted when you bring your own food in the house.

  35. okay, I’m going to be not so gentle here…did you ask if you could bring something?if it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas and you’re with your family, traditionally people bring food. As someone who was diagnosed with celiac and 2001 I have experienced the full gamut of people not caring, being offended, etc. for me not eating their food. Could they be more caring? Yes! Absolutely. But we can also stop being perpetually offended and take care of our own health. Bring some soup. And the hubs? He needs to step up his game. You might start there.

  36. I consider myself extremely lucky for two reasons 1) I do have Celiac, but am able to eat from a shared kitchen if the cookware has been thoroughly cleaned and 2) my in-laws, parents, fiancé, and friends are extremely careful and vigilant about preparing food for me. Over Thanksgiving, my future mother-in-law called me five times while making me gluten-free mac and cheese – just to be sure she was doing it correctly. I assured her that it was NEVER a stupid question to ask me if something is gluten-free!

    The holidays are difficulty because I hate seeing all the wonderful, delicious treats “normal” people get to consume, but knowing that my food is safely prepared by loved ones helps a lot! I would encourage this woman to go to her husband and talk to him about opening the lines of communication with his parents. Otherwise, bring your own food to his parents house! Sorry, but they sound like harsh, rude, inconsiderate people.

  37. I think you need to bring your own food. Is it great if they could have food? Yes. But be prepared. What if they did it wrong and it glutened you? They would feel awful. I bring my own food for all those occasions or I host them at my house. Extra work but it keeps me safe and I don’t worry about whether I will have a meal or not.

  38. Awesome feedback folks and I think we’re pretty much all saying the same thing. 1) We can’t depend on others so we need to take care of ourselves. 2) The in-laws have hearts of stone. 3) The husband’s got to speak up a bit.

  39. I guess I am really lucky. My family and my in laws saw how terribly sick I got before my diagnosis. We were all scared I was dying…….Since my diagnosis, my mom, my sister and one daughter have had to also start eating gluten free. I am so much better now, but even a little cross contamination makes me very sick. My brother in law volunteered to cook the turkey this year and I just asked if I needed to bring some turkey for me. I explained that if it wasnt gluten free, I couldnt eat it and that was ok, I would bring a turkey breast, I just needed to know. He committed to cooking a gluten free turkey. Him and his new wife did a lot of research and after reading up on Celiac disease, they realized how important this was. They even made gluten free gravy. There were hot rolls and desserts served with gluten but these were placed on a separate table. My new sister in law admitted that she thought the whole gluten free diet thing was a fad until they did some research. They were scared they were going to make a mistake and make me sick, but they did a great job. Pretty amazing, especially since my husband and his brother has a fight 6 years ago and barely speak.

  40. This disease only is survivable if you can cook. (Or live on scrambled eggs???). Cook and invite them over. Only way to make it work. This disease kills people with organ failure AND non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It’s not about tummy aches and diarrhea!!! It’s about life and death. If your husband and in laws don’t understand that, you have bigger problems!!!

  41. I have been going to family functions with my boyfriend for all 4 years that I’ve been gluten free. We discuss every time why I can’t eat stuff. Thanksgiving was the first time she’s ever asked me about what I could eat. However, the fact that I’ve had to explain it to her so many times in the last 4 years means that I would never trust her to cook for me. If you haven’t remembered/tried to understand it by now you don’t need to prepare food for me. My boyfriend never stands up to his mom, but after an incident involving a cake for his birthday I’m pretty sure he did, given the attitude change at thanksgiving.

  42. I just figured out I have an intolerance before Christmas. I have not been diagnosed, but I had peripheral neropathy among other things, and the change in diet has helped out, and the neropathy is almost gone. And honestly I don’t want to go back to eating gluten to get tested. My father-in-law is diabetic, and my mother-in-law always has him on special diets, and at one time went gluten free (but for her it was a fad diet). I go out of my way to make sure when they come over that the food fits his dietary requirements. But when I go to their house, they never have anything I can eat, and I think it is almost intentional on her part. (this is the same woman who knows I can’t digest red meet, but always sneaks it into food then tells me it is pork. I get massive stomach cramps from that too.) I have started to bring over food, but I think that it is very rude on her part to not even try. Really it isn’t very hard.

  43. I have no problem with people’s dietary requirements, having catered for my vegetarian and gluten intolerant family members on many occasions . After years of doing so…I do though feel it would be nice if someone one would cater for my dietary requirements. Lol. I never have communicated how I feel a balanced diet with all food groups is a healthier option nor would I, I do however feel it is rather annoying to have people try and force their dietary views on you. If I wanted to make changes to my diet I would. I am of healthy weight and fortunate to have no health problems and or allergies. I wish people would winging about how your dietary requirements aren’t catered for, turn the coin and ask do you cater for your guests diet when they visit? Would you cook them a roast dinner if you couldn’t eat it?

    1. Do you know anything about celiac disease? For the most part, people with celiac disease are the audience of this website. You are talking to people who often cannot eat ANYTHING at a social gathering, and risk getting extremely sick if they don’t prepare everything themselves. I see what you’re saying, but most celiacs are very sensitive to understanding other’s dietary needs if they are health related (allergies, intolerances, health restrictions). However, no, we cannot cook meals with gluten for other people, because we would be putting ourselves at great risk for getting sick. When my mother-in-law whines about her intense desires for gluten-filled bread at my house, I really don’t give a sh*t. In fact, I find her whining extremely annoying and insensitive to the reality that I am not risking getting very sick because she wants a sandwich. I don’t know why you used the example of roast beef. Perhaps you are upset that your vegetarian friends/family don’t prepare meat for you when you are visiting. But, if that’s the case, I don’t think you realize how entitled you sound considering what everyone else here is dealing with on a daily basis for their entire lives.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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