Sunday dinner with my parents is my favorite time of the week. We talk, eat a great meal, drink some wine and generally enjoy each other’s company. When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, in the fall of 2013, one of the things I feared was how it would change my cherished family dinners.
Because of my diagnosis, my diet was severely restricted: no gluten or dairy. I hated putting the burden on my parents to make meals to accommodate me — but, as it turns out, it wasn’t as big a deal as I feared.
I sat down with my mom, Kathy, to find out how my limitations have changed the way we eat as a family.
Sarah: When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, we knew I wasn’t able to have gluten. How did that change our family meals?
Kathy: I thought about the foods that we like to eat, and then considered how I could adapt them to meet your needs. I started looking at labels all the time to get acquainted with ingredients. I found new ways to be creative and think outside the box.
Sarah: Did you feel like you needed to give up bread and other foods?
Kathy: No, but it’s been good for us to cut back too. We still enjoy those foods, but we do it on nights you aren’t here.
Sarah: Has making these adjustments been hard?
Kathy: Not at all. Sometimes I have to work a little harder, but it’s not difficult. At first I made sure to read labels, but now it’s easier for me to identify foods that contain gluten, like marinades and sauces. I can still make the food we like, just with minor adjustments — like using corn starch instead of flour or making sure a broth is gluten free. You don’t need to go overboard, just keep it simple. I’ve never considered this a hardship.
Sarah: Do you have any advice for families who are dealing with dietary restrictions?
Kathy: Don’t freak out, and don’t overthink things. Read up on dietary restrictions and find ways to make simple changes. I found some great resources on the internet and in gluten-free magazines, which often have recipes. You’ll become comfortable with it and soon it’ll just be second nature.
Sarah: Would you and dad ever go completely gluten free?
Kathy: (laughing) No. We like some things with gluten.
There you have it! Changing family dinners can be easy. But it does require some work and communication!