The other day I was curious. I wondered how many times we brought up the word “gluten” or “celiac” in conversation during the course of a normal day. If you think about it, eating is an integral part of daily communication in everyone’s home. Over breakfast, you talk about your plans for the day. If you are a parent or work outside the house, lunch is usually the next topic and the decision is made as to what needs to be prepared or packed. Halfway through the day, the thought crosses your mind or a conversation is had with your spouse or loved one that touches on plans for dinner. “Can I have a snack?” is asked when the kids get home and finally, when the entire family is back under one roof, the daily debriefing is conducted over a warm meal at the dining room table. Talking and food go hand-in-hand. So, with the eating lifestyle changes that we have endured over the past months, I just wanted to know how much Cam’s condition had become a part of our every day vernacular. I’m embarrassed to say that I tried to find out and lost count.
On one hand, this is a great thing as it shows that my wife and I have our son’s health first and foremost in our minds. On the other hand though, are we putting too much emphasis on these changes? Has gluten not only taken over my son’s intestines but had it also taken over as our family’s primary topic of small talk? I know that things will change as we become more accustomed to this new diet in the months and years to come but I definitely do not want it dominating the conversation. A balance needs to be achieved. This will not only be good for Cam (de-emphasizing his differences) but it will also be good for his younger sister. Caroline is almost 10 and she’s a non-Celiac. She hasn’t met a food that she doesn’t like and there really isn’t anything out there that she will not try. She’s at that stage where she’s eating something such as an orange or crackers or a yogurt about once an hour. She doesn’t care that the crackers have changed from Wheat Thins to Nut Thins and we’ve heard no complaints about the new chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’ve never asked her but I’m sure she gets tired of hearing the words “gluten” and “celiac”. To her credit, she has never said anything. She watches her mother cook in the kitchen and seems genuinely interested in the changes made for the benefit of her brother. She’s insightful enough to ask questions about whether or not the rest of us should also be taking vitamins to fulfill our lost, daily intake. She’s been the perfect sister when it comes to her brother’s disease.
But should she be deprived (for lack of a better term) of an expanded palate? When we pass up the artisan bread at the grocery store, while healthy for him is it fair to her? We do take her out when Cam is at an after-school activity or a friend’s place and we “sneak” a piece of NY style pizza or chocolate lava cake. I don’t want it to feel like we’re “cheating” or doing something wrong but, honestly, sometimes it does. And we want to change that. He says that he doesn’t mind if we have certain foods that he can’t so maybe it is time to test that statement. Not for our sake, but for the sake of his sister and understanding that her tastes can be different. It’s a balance that we need to find and achieve, to match the love that we have for them equally.