Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Support of Family and Friends

Allie at Little Baby Fields left me a comment the other day on THIS post, mentioning how lucky I am to have friends who support me and my son's dietary restrictions.  She's been making some changes in her family's eating habits, and wrote an interesting post about the responses she's been getting from the people in her life when they learn about how she's trying to support her children's health through nutrition.  It's worth a read-just click on the link above to go to her blog. 

There are a few differences between Allie's family and my own; namely that I changed my son's diet initially because the food was making him physically ill in a very obvious way.  THIS is my inaugural blog post that briefly explains his situation, but rereading it now makes it plain to me that I will have to expand on it in a future post. 
Tired, lethargic, miserable.  This was how he typically looked.

Rash on his face

To make a long story short, removing gluten and dairy from his diet allowed him to regain his lost weight, cleared up his rashes, and eliminated his diarrhea.  It made him physically healthy again.  It also had other unexpected consequences, such as an almost immediate change in his behaviour for the better, and eliminated the out of control temper tantrums that could sometimes continue for over half an hour.  Allie is changing her family's diet for her own reasons, which you can read about on her blog.  I guess it could be argued that we changed our son's diet out of necessity, and she is changing hers by choice, but if you really read her reasoning carefully, I believe that she's doing it out of necessity as well. 

At the end of the day though, we are both ultimately working for the health and well-being of our children.  And as she notes, I am very lucky indeed to have family and friends who not only support me, but who go out of their way to make my son's food restrictions a non-issue. 

Here are just a few examples:

-My parents and my sister have dedicated cooking pots and utensils to use when preparing food for my son, and have an "Etienne" corner of the snack cupboard full of gluten and dairy free snacks.  My sister even made her daughter's entire birthday party gluten free so that my son wouldn't be left out
Gluten and Dairy Free Cake for my niece's birthday
-My friend Alana offered to order gluten free pizza and buy a gluten free cupcake for my son at her daughter's birthday party

-The daycare supervisor handed my husband an order form for an allergy friendly magazine that she had picked up in the hospital emergency room over the weekend, while waiting to be seen by the doctor with her daughter.  She said she saw the magazine and immediately thought of us.  She also told us that she would be providing gluten free hot dogs for our son at the Family BBQ this Friday.  Now we don't have to bring our own.

-My friend Sonia regularly sends me emails and links to gluten free sights, products and information that she thinks might be useful to me.  She also always brings along a gluten free snack when she comes to see us.
Mmmm...gluten free chips!

-One of my colleagues at work sent me an email with her home phone number immediately after hearing about my son.  Her husband and son are both diagnosed with celiac.

-Whenever we go to visit friends, we call to ask what's on the menu so that we can provide something similar for our son.  I would say that nine times out of ten, the host has already planned to have a few items available that my son can safely consume.  
At a friend's Christmas party, munching on marshmallows just for him

-I was almost bombarded with messages of support, resources, links, products, etc. from friends and family when we first found out that our son would no longer be able to consume gluten.  After the initial "But he might grow out of it, right?", and our "No" response, there was just a general acceptance that this was going to be our new normal.

It hasn't all been easy- understanding how easy it is to cross-contaminate someone with gluten is a complicated thing, and he's been served food that he's not supposed to eat by people who were trying to be careful but missed an ingredient or didn't adequately separate his food during the preparation process.  Overall though, I feel that my friends and family have gone out of their way to learn about how to provide food for my son that is safe and healthy. 

I can't imagine how tough it would be to have to justify our actions, or to be told that our son was not welcome somewhere because of his food restrictions.  I'm sure the time will come when he will feel left out of some event, or when someone will be unnecessarily insensitive, and we'll have to teach him how to handle those situations. 

Within our immediate circle however, I feel that we've been blessed with some pretty fabulous, supporting individuals.  We are lucky indeed.

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