Being Assertive

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I think one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn with being coeliac is simply being assertive. I hate asking for things from people, or feeling like I’m being too demanding/fussy/high maintenance. But I soon had to get over that!

When I tried eating out, I’d tip toe around my needs and sort of quietly mumble that I couldn’t eat gluten. When first getting used to it all, I ordered a soup without the bread, saying I couldn’t eat bread. It came with toasted bread sprinkled on top. My shy, confused self back then just picked them out and ate the soup. BAD move. I think the soup was probably made with stock that had gluten in too so the day after that lunch was no fun. The problem was I hadn’t been clear about my needs to begin with and had lacked the confidence in myself to challenge the illogical idea of sprinkled toasted bread in someone’s soup who couldn’t eat bread.

Friends pointed out to me the gravity of such situations. The fact is your putting your health at risk if your not assertive about what you need, this goes for communicating with cafes, friends, family and anyone who you will be eating with. I know its difficult because food is such a social, uniting part of life, and as coeliacs we will often be the odd one out on these occasions. But as long as everyone knows exactly what it is we need then all will run smoothly. Now, though, I stick to eating in or only eating out at places I know for sure are gluten free savvy and I’m sure to debrief friends before eating at their houses.

I feel like a right pain in the arse when I watch over friends shoulder’s like a hawk when they cook for me. And the whole thing can be pretty awkward – I had one amazing friend who baked me gluten free bread to cheer me up when I was getting down about it all, before eating it I thought to check (and felt rude asking) “You didn’t put baking powder in this did you?” to which her face fell and she nodded as we both groaned. She felt guilty for not thinking, I felt guilty that half a teaspoon of baking powder could make all her hard work pointless. But its all a learning curve and lucky for me she baked me another loaf without it in, which was much appreciated (and also delicious).

Always check with whoever is cooking for you that there’s no risk of cross-contamination, check every ingredient that’s going into your food and make sure they know all the basics of cooking for coeliacs (plastic chopping boards and utensils rather than wooden, wiped down surfaces and under no circumstances using anything that has been into contact with gluten!). It’s rubbish feeling like such a nuisance but the fact is, people are there to support you and we just need to make sure they have all the knowledge they need to do it right.

One friend told me when I was worried “Well you kinda are high maintenance to cook for, but its not your fault and we love you anyway”

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