Managing dietary restrictions

living lifewise

How family dinners change when you have dietary restrictions

Thursday, May 28, 2015    Sarah Swanberg

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.
Sarah: Traitor.


There you have it! Changing family dinners can be easy. But it does require some work and communication!


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