Jan 09 2018

Meeting the Parents for the First Time? Here’s How to Not Freak Them Out About Your Celiac Disease

Published by at 8:15 am under Celiac,Dating,Gluten Free,Relationships

celiac disease

You can impress these two people and your celiac disease won’t get in the way. Photo on Visual hunt

Your new relationship is going great! So great that your hunky boyfriend or dazzling girlfriend wants to take things to the next level. That’s right, you’ve just earned a primo invitation to meet the parents. This age-old tradition comes laden with any number of landmines, but your job is harder than most. Not only do you have to convince Daddy and Mommy dearest that you aren’t about to break the heart of their offspring, but you also have to navigate all the normal challenges of introducing newbies to your Celiac disease. Here’s five tips on how to deal:

1.      Ask Your Partner to Prep Their Parents

Let’s assume that your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents are nominally normal – you’ll learn about all the skeletons in the closet at a later date. They want to give you the benefit of the doubt and will make at least a basic effort to be accommodating. In this case, ask your BF or GF to play diplomat and let their parents know of your condition before your first meeting. This will give your possible future in-laws a chance to learn about the disease and make reasonable accommodations before your visit, such as not greeting you at the door with “Mom’s famous cookies.”

2.      Be Understanding…

It can be difficult for gluten-loving households to really, truly get what life is like for someone with Celiac. They may assume you are like their Aunt Darla who is cutting back on gluten but can always be “persuaded” to gobble down ten brownies at any party. Be understanding that your BF’s or GF’s parents may forget and offer you something with gluten (heck, they may not realize that the gravy has gluten in it). They may have no idea that even using the same pan with gluten in it for non-gluten dishes can set you off. Try to be as clear as possible about these risks without coming across as mean, hysterical, or dictatorial.

3.      … but Also Be Firm

At the same time, be firm. You may desperately want to make a good impression, but not at the expense of spending the next week on the toilet. If you are offered a gluten dish, politely decline. As nicely as possible, double check ingredients and how food was prepared. If you can’t eat certain dishes, ask about alternatives and show gratitude for any accommodations made for you.

4.      Be Open About Your Disease

Celiac is nothing to hide or be ashamed of. It is simply a condition you must manage. In fact, speaking openly about your condition and inviting questions can help your BF’s or GF’s parents start to understand how dangerous it can be if you ingest even a little gluten. Note: this does not give you free reign to describe your horrid bouts of diarrhea or constipation over dinner. You want these people to actually like you, remember!

One more thing to note. Be graceful, even if you get pushback. Some people confuse gluten sensitivity with Celiac or even think Celiac isn’t a real thing. If worse comes to worse, that the parents act like jerks, just be grateful that ignorance isn’t 100% heritable.

5.      Be the Host

The best way to avoid any gluten-related mishaps and to take the pressure off your BF’s or GF’s parents is to either suggest a non-food related meeting or to host dinner yourself. This way, you can be in control of the menu and the cooking process. If your future in-laws want to bring something, suggest a couple of non-gluten options. (Who doesn’t love a good veggie side?)

When you don’t have to worry about whether gluten could be lurking in every dish (because you did all the cooking), you can focus on being your natural, charming self. We know that you can do it!

Good luck meeting the parents!

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