I have this recurring dream about food. I feel weird calling it a nightmare because the main antagonist is macaroni, but it’s not a good dream.
It begins with a buffet at some big event. The last time I had this dream, there was an entire basketball court worth of food, line after line, hundreds of feet of… macaroni. Plain macaroni in giant vats.
And some more lines of bread for good measure.
At first I make excuses to the people I’m sitting with about how I’m not hungry (not true) and they push me to try something and finally the truth comes out: I can’t eat a single thing at this feast. I’m starving. I paid to be here. I told the host/caterer about my food allergy. There is nothing to eat.
The strange part of this dream is when I realize I’m dreaming–I had this thought while I was watching everyone else, waiting for an appropriate time for me to duck out and race home and eat something–you know, the last time I had this dream, I ate a cookie and it was fine because I was dreaming.
But (dream logic) I couldn’t just tell my companions I was dreaming or that I was suddenly not gluten intolerant after making such a big deal about it. So I make up this story about how since I wasted all my money to be here, the least I could do is bring some cookies home for my husband, so he can have some. Cue me going in line and each time I get a cookie, it disappears off my plate.
It’s pretty easy to interpret this dream–I still have anxiety about social eating situations. Getting prepared and having snacks on hand helped alleviate how often I had these dreams, but they’re back now that Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon.
I’m afraid of being a burden to my host. I waffle between two extreme attitudes–they invited me and it’s the job of the host to provide food for everyone, so if they want me there they’ll cook for me, darnit! and they mean well and they’ll promise me it’s gluten-free, but is it? Can I trust this food? Should I be honest if I start having symptoms and ruin Thanksgiving?
(Not to mention, my suffering for two days because of a ‘little’ slip-up).
I see this conversation coming up more and more in parenting circles as we’re trying to prepare our children and ourselves for big meals full of cross-contamination, mystery ingredients, and cousins insisting there’s just not enough food on our plate yet.
Will our hosts understand why we’re bringing our own food and watching our kids like hawks? Can we convince them it’s not personal, it’s not that we don’t trust them, it’s that the dangers are just too great? How do we have those conversations without offending someone? How do we make them understand how sick we get from eating, that yes, one little bite is enough? In fact, that one crumb from that dish over on the other side of the table is enough.
I don’t have the answers, except for that for this Thanksgiving, I’m going to bring some food for everyone (and dig in fast so I get some before it’s gone!). Last year I made these awesome lentil mushroom walnut balls and I can’t wait to make them again. They’re like stuffing for gluten-free vegetarians.
Oh, and if you need pie (of course you need pie), try cranberry chess pie with this gluten-free crust. I’ve made the crust several times–it hasn’t failed me yet. That’s more than I can say for a lot of gluten-free recipes.
Hope you can make it safely through your holidays! How do you deal with your allergies this time of year? How do you minimize your stresses and risks of exposure?