Having celiac disease is lonely. Going out of my house with the knowledge that I will need to eat a meal terrifies me. I used to like going out to eat. I had a great love for a variety of cuisines but now, they are just something I can never enjoy again.
Last weekend, I went to a blogging conference and food was provided for lunch and dinner. Before the conference started, the coordinator asked if anyone had food issues. Myself, along with and several other people, said they could not eat gluten. I brought some snacks for the hotel room but nothing for the meals because I thought they would be taken care of.
Breakfast was a table of doughnuts and fruit. I ate fruit and drank a coffee. During a break, I ran back up to my room and stuffed my face with some chips. At lunch, they served salads – with croutons. I asked the waitress to bring a new salad without croutons and by the time she brought it back, everyone else had already taken dressing from the group jar so I ate it plain. Lunch was gnocchi and chicken. No go. I turned it away. I bought a cheese platter from Starbucks. When I got back to the conference room, I met another Jenn who is a celiac and chastised me for not demanding a gluten free meal. I have always been confident advocating for my career, my kids, etc. but the idea of demanding a special meal blew my mind. I thanked her for the advice and she tracked down the dessert – flourless brownie – for me to enjoy.
That night everyone was going to either “walk around or nosh on food trucks” or go to Maggianos. Neither seemed safe to me so I ate alone. I was feeling alone and wanted to leave the conference. When I checked Facebook the next morning, they posted a picture of breakfast, Denver burritos in flour tortillas. I ate a banana in my bed and cried. Since getting glutened in Denver, I was scared to really eat anything except the prepackaged food I bought and bringing it down to the conference area gave me anxiety. I packed up my things and missed the main 2 days of the conference.
Having celiac disease meant that I had to give up gluten. I never realized I would give up more. Food is a gathering place, it’s how people bond, it’s what we do for fun. For me, if I’m not in my house, it is an anxiety-inducing event, it makes me feel isolated and I never realized that having celiac disease would be so lonely.
I followed along with the conference online. I learned a lot in that first day that probably contributed to my anxiety. I am not a big blogger. I do not have a huge following and hearing all these successful women speak was hard. I like my blog, sharing tutorials and recipes, and I don’t have to time to put into my blog like these others do. They truly made it their business while I am still working as a hobby. I may try another conference later, I may not. I think I will have to take a look at what I want my blog to be before deciding on that though.