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Holiday Food Allergy Blues

Posted on December 11th, 2007 by Alison Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

sadface.jpgIt’s going to happen. You could be the most upbeat, glass-half-full, thankful-for-what-you’ve-got person, but it’s going to happen. Probably around the holidays. Probably at a party or a family event. It might sneak up on you at the buffet table or maybe it will hit you when you see the festive dessert tray.

It’s the Food Allergy Blues.

For people with food allergies, intolerance or celiac disease, the holidays are hard. Appetizers at parties are full of wheat and dairy. Dinner hosts might feel put out to accomodate one person’s special diet. And let’s not forget all the treats — cookies, candies, pies — laden with the most common food allergens. I suspect that this is the time when people with food intolerance (vs. a serious allergy) are tempted to cheat, and if they do, feel miserable. Other people avoid going to parties in the first place because it can make them feel down about their situation.

But here I am to give you a pep talk and tell you that we all feel this way at some point (even me, and I’m one of those people I described at the beginning!) I know it is really Polly-Anna of me to say this, but if food allergy/intolerance/celiac is the only thing you’ve got, think about how lucky you are that you don’t have something more serious.

Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was asked in a recent interview, “What do you tell your patients who are diagnosed with celiac disease?”

He answered: “I tell them, ‘I do understand your feelings, but let’s say I have the power to trade your celiac disease for any other autoimmune disease, which you would rather have? Cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis?’ They say, ‘Well, I will keep the celiac disease.'”

So be strong, fellow food-sensitive people! The holiday season will pass, and while others are making New Year’s Resolutions about what not to eat, you will already have that one covered!

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  1. I believe I’m replying to Alison,

    Thanks so much for the glass-half-full approach! Our Christmas dinner invites have begun,therefore I’m creating some to-go-meals that are fairly appetizing for me to eat as well as for the lucky person who sits next to me and has to view my plate. Your article describing Dr Fasano’s interview Q&A was a gentle reminder in that I feel blessed to have Celiac above any other autoimmune disease!!

    May you have a blessed Christmas and New Year!!!!

  2. Last Christmas (first GF) was a bit of a bummer- I was invited to an old family friend’s place several hours away, and asked to bring my own entire dinner (as well as my usual dessert). They were not willing to change anything to make it safe for me. It was a case for Christmas blues.

    This Christmas is better- staying home and cooking, but by choice not by necessity. And who needs traditional anyway?- we’re having lamb curry.
    I like what Fasano said. I’ve seen something similar from another MD- who said that if she had to choose a chronic condition to have, Celiac might be it. That she considered it a plus that the patient did not have to take any meds- just had to give up eating gluten. (okay, ‘just’giving up gluten isn’t that easy, nor do symptoms necessarily resolve quickly, but still- not taking meds is HUGE).

  3. Cathy and Jane,
    What else can we do but stay positive, right? I do feel pretty special that I don’t take any medication (I used to). It seems everyone is on something! Thanks for the comments.

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