I just received an email from a follower (don’t laugh…I have followers!) that reinforces why I started this blog. Here is part of what he said:
My wife is a celiac diagnosed about 2.5 months now. She really truly feels better reading your entries as she doesn’t feel alone and others are experiencing the same things she is. Anyway, I was wondering if in one of your posts you can address the things a spouse can do to help a celiac. I am trying to get all resources and knowledge possible. But I’m sure I’m missing something. Maybe a top 5 list of things a spouse can do to help out would be great. Like in the beginning what you really needed that your spouse couldn’t provide just due to not knowing or something.
Well, you asked for 5, but I’m feeling quite helpful today, so here are 7 ways to support somebody just diagnosed with celiac disease.
1. Be patient. You both are about to enter a whole new world. A world where gluten is now your enemy. Give yourself time. Time to mourn the loss of your old life. Time to learn all you need to know about your new life. Time to adjust. Don’t expect to waltz into your gluten free world without some bumps in the road.
2. Be strict. I remember the first few weeks after my diagnosis telling Mrs. Dude that I can’t make any promises that I won’t cheat. Well, she gave me the death stare and got her point across quite clearly. And I have never cheated…not even once. I’m not saying it has to fall on you to make sure your spouse doesn’t cheat, but don’t make it easy either. Never give your approval. Never encourage her to just “take a bite” of your pizza. And if you’ve got a death stare, now is the right time to bring it out.
3. Be educated. As your spouse is trying to digest the celiac diagnosis, it may be too much for her to learn all she needs to learn. Read, read and read some more about celiac disease and gluten. There is a wealth of information out there. Know as much as you can possibly know. Knowledge is power.
4. Be communicative. Talk about your fears (both of you…your life will also be quite affected). Talk about your anger. Talk about your future. Just talk.
5. Be organized. Read my lips…NO MORE GLUTEN. Help her get your house in order. Make sure she has her own space in the kitchen where she knows she will always be safe. Here are some tips to keeping a gluten free kitchen.
6. Be careful. Gluten is everywhere. And just because it’s not in a food item one day, it doesn’t mean it won’t be another day. Be your spouse’s best advocate. Know what she can and can’t have. Read ingredients for her. Look things up on Google for her. Yep, having celiac disease affects more than just the patient.
7. Be there. She will need you now more than ever. Don’t let her down.