Friday, October 16, 2015

How to Help a Celiac Sister Out

It’s baby season.  I have many pregnant friends, friends who are trying to get pregnant, friends who are ready to adopt.  It’s the season where I need to stay away from small ones because I held an infant at a birthday party a few weeks ago and I literally felt my ovaries lock and load.  I passed that baby off like a hot potato because we have enough crazy rolling through this joint right now. 

I remember when Wren and Sam were born and we were put on the Care Calendar.  It’s this awesome tool that allows people to sign up to bring you food while you are recovering from having a person exit your body.  I have much love for the Care Calendar. 

Sidenote: For all of you who have ever wondered if you are helping to fulfill your God-given duty by signing up to bring someone a casserole, you are.  My Nanny was up here when Sam was hospitalized for pneumonia, which happened 10 days after he was born, and she couldn’t drive in the city.  She had a few groceries at the house but was busy burning every possible germ to its death, so when people just kept showing up on our porch every other day with food, she felt like manna was falling from the sky, though it was actually being delivered by angels on earth who kept her fed while she scrubbed baseboards with bleach.  So, thank you.  I probably never sent thank you cards because one of my kids almost died and the other had a nervous breakdown that led to Celiac.  Plus, I forget to do stuff on a good day. 

Anyway, people with food allergies usually don’t end up on the Care Calendar because they ask not to be placed there.  That was true for us after Wren and D were diagnosed with Celiac.  The idea of having people cook us food that was cross-contaminated, to have them spend all that time and money and then us not be able to eat it, that just seemed awful.  We did have people ask what they could do for us when the twins were born, but I suck at asking for help even when people directly say, “We’d like to help you.  How can we?”  It’s a gift.

Baby season got me thinking, and two years later I came up with a few ways to help out someone with food allergies if they are in a Care Calendar season of life, whether it’s a new baby or surgery.  We are not in that phase of life because I put that baby at the birthday party down fast enough, but I finally had some ideas and decided to share.

Gift Cards to places with food like Whole Foods or Sprouts
They are not impersonal.  They are versatile.  They buy food.  One of my fellow twin mamas showed up at our house when the twins were just born with a gift card and onesies.  It was a win. 

Be a part of the prep team
Before Asher and Eowyn were born, I waddled around the kitchen cooking and freezing meals so we’d be good to go when they arrived.  If you know someone who has food allergies, you might recommend this and then offer to come help them cook.  They can tell you safe ingredients to bring and you can help them shove everything in the freezer when it’s over.

Packaged Food
Know your allergy person very well on this one, or ask a load of questions.  Most Celiacs have multiple food allergies, but there are brands like Enjoy Life that make yummy treats that don’t contain any of the top eight allergens.  A box of Enjoy Life snickerdoodles still in the package and not touched by anyone else would be a safe treat for most Celiacs.  

Hit up the Bakery
Unrefined Bakery carries gluten-free baked goods and 98% of their food is dairy free.  A gift card or a dozen cupcakes from there would make a person with Celiac fat and happy.  Make sure not to open them in a place where flour or other forms of gluten could get to them.  Unrefined is a dedicated gluten-free facility, and the owners both have Celiac.  They take the allergy thing pretty seriously. 

Here’s a tip for Halloween: see about getting involved in the Teal Pumpkin Project.  We are always out and about on Halloween so we haven’t been able to do this yet, but it looks great.  My kids have requested this year that they trade in all their candy for apple pie.  Easy enough, except I've never made an apple pie.  Could be an interesting year.

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