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I guess friends don't get it


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Friends from my past school came into town briefly for the holidays. I have tried in the past to explain to them that I cannot really eat out due to the fact that I have food allergies and celiac disease. I try not to dwell on it with friends because no one wants to hear about another's problems constantly because it gets old and puts a damper on the evening. This is unfortunately one of those things where I have to speak up regardless of how I look. I have been very busy this holiday and also let them know that. Whenever they are in town they seem to think I can drop everything to see them when they are free. What they don't understand is that regarding food, I have to look into the restaurant ahead of time and make sure its certified. I have to plan ahead where I will eat. It keeps me from getting violently ill and missing work. I honestly didn't even want to see them only because of the extreme anxiety celiac's deal with when eating out. Celiacs look high maintenance and appear to be picky eaters. I just wanted to avoid this all together. My guy friend was persistent and really wanted to see me. I finally said ok and drove down to see him and suggested that he meet me at a certain place (i knew ahead of time the restaurant is fine for my needs and has good food). He was meeting up with another one of our friends to go eat dinner later. We invited her to join us there.

 

Well, when she got there she was making comments and jabs about, "oh yeah, your eating here because its one of those GLUTEN FREE places. And they serve gluten free food only." My guy friend didn't even notice it was a "special place" because earlier he said the food was good. She has no idea how much extreme anxiety I even had about going out to eat. Like I've said, I have tried to explain it the best I could without feeling like I was preaching to the choir. Then more comments were said that I felt like were jabs at me and my situation. I said gently, hey, that's not very nice. I'm pretty limited with where I can eat. This whole evening just made me feel horrible. Then, when I don't go out and meet people, they think I am ignoring them and don't want to see them. I just cannot win.

 

They also made comments that suggested that I was somehow 'less than' because I'm in a graduate level part-time. 3 classes instead of 5 when you are working and maintaining a strict diet is still A LOT. I just feel miserable right now. I now that everyone has problems. I just wish people wouldn't make fun of me or make jabs. I am doing my best to deal with this as well as I can. I would give anything to have things how they used to be.

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Generally people do not know much about medical illnesses. People also find it difficult to empathize with something they know nothing about and particularly have never experienced.

 

I know something of what you mean. I have IBS and it can be literally minutes after I have eaten when I am running for a washroom. It can be ANY food at all. And it can appear at ANY time. So I never go any place without knowing where a washroom is.

 

I find it too with the migraines I have. People say, " oh you have a headache big deal take a Tylenol and get on with it."

 

But yeah, people don't understand. I would try and surround yourself with people who have some empathy.

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It sucks your friends aren't more supportive. you're not the only person out there with dietary restrictions. Did you see that cartoon that's been circulating? It's about dumb things that people say to people with mental health issues, and highlighting that you would never say those things to say, a person with food poisoning or a person who just had their hand cut off. things like, "you have to be more positive" or "why don't you just ignore the bad feelings?" or "you shouldn't have to take medicine everyday to be normal" (to a diabetic).

 

In that regard, because they can't see how bad it is, they don't know why you have to be so careful. I am really allergic to cats, I can't spend very much time at a person's house if they have a cat. People tell me, "just take a pill" I'm like - no, it's not enough, my allergies are REALLY bad.

 

I suppose you've already been doing this, but can you just bring along a safe snack, and then just order a drink off the menu? The purpose is to spend time together, not to make you eat. You could have a list of restaurants you know are safe for you too.

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^This is a good idea. Can you eat before you go out and then just have something to drink?

 

That is a good idea.

 

When I tried it in the past, I had a close friend say that I was anorexic behind my back. But hey, perhaps its worth a shot again? I have lost more friends over this whole thing than I can fathom. Who knew that food was the primary part of socializing. I thought it was all about seeing friends.

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If they've known you for any ammount of time you'd think they'd be more understanding and cooperative and a little more educated as well.

I agree that the point with friends is to spend time so maybe suggest meeting for drinks instead or going bowling/playing pool.. Invite them over and cook something you can eat?

If it's always a drag, I'd probably re-evaluate the friendships.

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Well, yes, eating has always been a part of socializing even back when we were very ancient peoples. So, yes, it is social, BUT, I would just ignore rumours. And the friends you lost? Not worth it eh? If they want to not be friends with you because you have an ailment what does that say about them? Good riddance I say.

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I think there are lots of ways around this. First, do you always have to meet to eat? Can't you meet to take a walk somewhere, a hike, a bike ride, shopping, a drink, a movie, or at people's homes? Or if you do have to meet at a restaurant, do you necessarily have to eat? I realize that might make you feel self-conscious, but if these people are your friends, it shouldn't matter. I also am not sure it's much of a jab for someone to simply point out that it was a gluten-free restaurant? What else did they say that you perceived as jabs at you? I ask because sometimes if we are self-conscious, that skews perception.

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At weight watchers, I know some people who bring their own salad dressings to a restaurant or their own chips to a mexican restaurant. it's their way of ensuring that they eat foods that stay within their limits. I know that sounds extreme, but maybe the restaurant would be accomodating.

 

what sorts of foods/meals are safe for you to eat?

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You guys always offer such helpful ideas. I cannot thank you enough for listening. XxX

 

I feel like these problems are getting to be too much for me to handle. I'm supposed to be gluten free and also not eat sweet corn, cow's milk, wheat, soy, nuts, eggs, and tomatoes. I am starting to feel like I'm going crazy and OCD. Like why can't I eat normal food anymore?? To be fair, my father was allergic to eggs as a child and he's not supposed to eat nuts either. He said he had horrible rashes and hives as a kid. But he grew out of it. How did I grow into it??

 

I just feel crazy. Either that or I'm going to starve to death. I'm also getting evaluated for Addison's disease right now, so I feel like a pariah.

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I don't have much to add but I wanted to say that I understand where you're coming from. I have had zero physical contact with friends ever since I got stomach surgery. I am now very limited in what I can eat and how much I can eat and this will last for the rest of my life. I can't eat more than 3 oz. I have had to turn down all outings that involve a restaurant.... which means I have had no social time. All of my food needs to be put through a blender now. I tried to go out to a diner with my boyfriend and I just had broth and I ended up getting sick in the bathroom. I am scared to go out again.

 

I do feel isolated now. I didn't know how much food plays a part in social interactions. Isn't it weird?

 

It pains me to hear that you've lost friends over this. I really hope you can find some relief with your symptoms. You are not alone. Please don't feel like a pariah.

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Yes, I've heard that one of the issues with the whole gluten free thing happening is that it's making it more difficult for actual celiac sufferers to be taken seriously - either by friends, or more dangerously by the places they eat at.

 

A friends' brother actually had to have part of his bowel removed because he wouldn't watch his diet.

 

Honestly, I would stop meeting them at restaurants. If they really want to see you, they'll make the effort.

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I know what you are going through because I am in a similar boat --not being able to eat out due to certain food restrictions. I usually meet friends for a drink AFTER they have eaten at a restaurant, that way we are still hanging out, and I am not watching them eat food I can't have. I also have them over for dinners, and they do that too and I bring my own food to cook and eat at their place. Always have snacks prepared and in the freezer for those impromptu plans as well.

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It's terrible that people are so insensitive.

 

I'm wondering if you could send your close friends an e-mail, perhaps with some information and/or helpful links, that they can read to become more educated about your condition. I'm not sure if you've done this already or not, but I thought I'd suggest it. Perhaps posting some info on Facebook or other social networking sites (if you use any of those) would be helpful as well.

 

I also agree with the suggestion to eat at home and then offer to meet them for something to drink afterward. Or, plan outings where you can bring your own food, or where you have people over and cook something together, etc.

 

I have a friend who is a vegan (which I understand is a lifestyle choice rather than a serious health issue like yours), and we go out to eat sometimes. I ALWAYS ask her where she wants to go and tell her, "pick somewhere where you can get something to eat, and I'll be fine." One time, we went to a totally vegan restaurant, and I ate stir fry with chicken made from seitan. Was it something I would order otherwise? Nope. Would I have chosen that place in the first place? Nope. I can guarantee, though, that it would have been 100 times worse for her going somewhere that only served meat/animal products than it was for me to eat faux chicken. I had no problem doing that for a friend because that's what friends do.

 

It sounds like your friends need to be educated on celiac disease -- their ignorance is going to interfere with your relationship with them.

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