Going Gluten-FreeMarch 23, 2010

Celiac Disease: The Art of Readiness

Comments (3)

Posted by Oksana and Tom Charla

My son, Mikey, has been a diagnosed celiac for a bit over three years now. Although I always try to be “food prepared,” there inevitably always are those days when someone forgets to tell me that there are going to be cupcakes brought to school for little Johnny or little Suzie’s birthday and my son has to be offered his ‘standby’ Italian ices that are kept in the school cafeteria freezer for just that reason.

There have also been plenty of days that I was ‘in the know’ and prepared that gluten-free pizza and carefully arranged to have it arrive at the perfect time, still hot from the oven, only to see my son’s face not carefree and gleaming with delight like the other kids’ hovering around the pizza box fighting for that first slice, or the cheesiest or crustiest slice, but sitting quietly….happy to have pizza, but trying not to draw too much attention to himself and his very own, brought from home, gluten-free pizza.

To an outsider it would hardly be noticeable—but to a mom, she knows…and it hurts. It hurts to have your child feel different—to know he feels it, and yet to be so helpless knowing that no matter how hard you try you can’t make it better.

So the other day when I got wind of a mealtime outing to Chili’s, as a teambuilding ‘togetherness’ activity for my son’s travel basketball team, I was determined to make sure he felt like part of the team. Knowing that Chili’s has a gluten-free menu, Mikey and I did a google search and printed it out. Together we went through the entire menu and highlighted his potential meal(s). We picked back-ups just in case his first choice wasn’t available that day.

All the planning the night before panned out. The coaches had the kids all sit together and order their own food while they (the coaches) and a handful of parents, myself included, sat at nearby tables and let the kids be themselves and just have fun.

A few quick glances over his way confirmed it. Mikey was happy, laughing, chatting and eating. Just one of the boys—just the way it should be.

I’m grateful for establishments that accommodate gluten-free. It makes Mikey happy— and means the world to me.

Go to Living Without’s forum to share restaurants you’ve been to that have gluten-free menus that make you, or your child, feel like one of the gang.