… when you have food allergies
A topic that sometimes pops up in conversation with my girlfriends is the Mother-In-Law (hereafter referred to as MIL). This relationship can be a tough one, and if you or your kids have celiac disease or food allergies, it can be even more difficult.
It is not anyone’s fault. It just requires some — well, a lot of extra effort on everyone’s part. Even my wonderful, caring, fabulous, super-duper (she’s reading this) MIL and I have had our challenges when it comes to what to feed my family. Our last visit went quite smoothly, and perhaps yours can too if you follow the tips below.
(I am focusing on Mother-In-Law rather than Father-In-Law because I am generalizing that the MIL is usually in charge of the shopping and cooking in her house, but go ahead and apply this to anyone you want!)
If you plan to visit the in-laws for a few days, or if you or your kids spend time at their house regularly, follow these tips:
1. Be patient.
Don’t expect your MIL to understand your special diet right away, especially if you rarely see her. There is a learning curve when it comes to eliminating gluten, or dairy, or anything from the diet. You may feel frustrated, but she may be just as frustrated as you. I didn’t realize that my MIL was frustrated by the whole thing until a sausage brand mixup inspired her to utter a curse word under her breath at me! At least we can laugh about it now.
2. Plan meals ahead of time.
My MIL likes to plan ahead (like buying plane tickets in August for Christmas), so if we discuss meal ideas on the phone the week before we arrive, she can get her grocery shopping out of the way and not have anxiety about the food situation. Telling her brand names that she can find easily also helps.
3. Do your own grocery shopping.
Right when I arrive at my in-laws’ house, I drop off the kids and head to a natural foods grocery store. I buy cereal, bread, snacks and whatever else I will need for the few days we are visiting. This is the deal my MIL and I have worked out – I go, she gives me the money to pay for it. (OK, I’ll admit it, I always throw in a few extra goodies for myself!)
4. Get in the kitchen.
Offer to help make the food. My MIL asks me to make my gluten-free bread and any special treats that may be needed, like cupcakes if there will be a party, or dessert for a holiday dinner. The last time I visited, she asked me to show her how to make bread so she could make it sometime – now that’s progress! Another reason to get in the kitchen is to check ingredients of things, like flavoring packets or canned soups – stuff that goes into those “old favorite” recipes. (Oh – also check the Father-In-Law’s secret seasoning he uses on the bbq!)
5. Bite your tongue.
Obviously you need to let your MIL know if there is something that you or your family cannot eat, but hold back on the criticism. One negative comment can dash all your MIL’s efforts, even if in your mind they didn’t amount to much. Remember tip #1!
Well, hope that helps someone out there. I feel very lucky to have the mother-in-law that I do! Good luck with yours!