Gluten Free Guerrillas
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Not Wanting To Offend People When They Make Food For You??

I have a dilemma...we have been invited to my husbands Daughters home for Xmas Lunch & Supper, this is something that has never happened before, so wanting to support my husband totally, we have accepted. I did however point out that I was not eating gluten or dairy for health reasons. (usual coeliac issues & amongst other things dreadful cough/wheezing which is much worse when these 2 groups eaten, so much so that at bad times my diaphram can go into painful spasms & I have difficulty breathing......let alone the diahorea!).

However, she has now e mailed me & told me that she has got lactose free cream cheese, butter, milk etc & GF bread mix.

This is fine, but with the dairy I don't know whether it's lactose or cassein I have an issue with & hence I don't eat any dairy products. At some point next year I was going to very gently try out some lactose free products but at a very controlled pace when I felt I was ready to do so & in tiny amounts.

I don't want to eat these products at Xmas, but how do I tell them that, after they have already been bought & they have been thoughtful enough to buy them in the first instance?

I know it will be a bad mix if I try them, as there will be champagne too & at times that can cause me problems, so the 2 together will be a double whammy!!!

I had already suggested that I bring some of my own stuff to mix in with her food etc, so she doesn't need to go to any trouble, but that was not accepted well!

Have other people had similar dilemmas & how on earth do you tell people without offending them & without wanting too much attention made of these issues???

12 Replies

sorry to hear of your problems. I'll be interested to know if anyone has successfully negotiated these problems as my refusal to eat at my mother-in-laws produced a big bust up that still hasn't been resolved a year later. My mother accepts I bring my own food and one daughter-in-law now accept that I bring my own food and only use ceramic/glass/metal dishes straight out of the dishwasher or eat out of the food containers. Bit by bit making progress but it is very slow and hard.

on a lighter note, co-op are selling giant packs of toilet paper half price (won't help with the breathing though)


That did make me hoot!! Mind you we may never have an invite again if I do eat those foods, as their loo is near their lounge!!! I'm so glad our sense of humour gets us through these difficulties!

Glad that you are making some headway with the relatives!

Have to say, my side of the family are all fine with it & dont' get offended if I don't eat something or if I bring my own food, it's just not an issue at all. It's just the 'other more delicate side' of the family!!


This time of year can be so darn tricky to navigate, food plus emotion wise.

I really think that it is important though, to never compromise your health out of feelings of guilt or not wanting to cause trouble. It is your body and you are the one that suffers. If it was her struggling to breathe with excruciating spasms, or one of her children etc I'm sure it'd be a different story.

What I would do in this situation, is send a super sugary email in reply to hers.

Thank her so much for going out of her way to provide these foods for you, it really makes you feel good that she has gone to this effort for you, and you are really appreciative of that etc etc, and then say something like, obviously you didn't explain yourself very well somehow (not that I think this is the case, btw), because you need to avoid ALL dairy, not just lactose, and that lactose is just a small part of the dairy product.

Perhaps add some humour about not wanting to ruin her dinner by being carted off in an ambulance, and perhaps that you know it can be a pain, and that you will do whatever she would like you to in order to support her, because you would hate to not be able to eat the food she has gone to so much effort to provide, because it would make you sick.

Be really appreciative, but also really clear in the nicest possible way that you cannot, and will not eat food that will make you ill.

Isn't there some quote that says 'Because those who mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind'.

Obviously this is super tricky when it's family. But people who really love you, want you to be well and not suffer.


Thankyou Invivo & Jillip for your comments, it's made me feel better about saying thanks but no thanks about the dairy & I will use some of your suggestions for my reply.


A dilemma I recognise only too well. I do agree with Invivo about emailing but I would (and do) go a little further. Say how very sensitive you are and that you would hate her to be offended if some of the food she has bought in for you isn't suitable, so you will be bring some of your own as well as well as your chopping boards/toaster/stirring spoons, so as not to put her to any more trouble. Also, say that because of your extreme sensitivity and not wanting to become ill and totally put her bathroom out of use for hours on end (here you hope that they only have one loo) would she mind if you helped with the prep of all meals to ensure there is no cross contamination. I've found that by the time I've gone through all of these things, that when I then say...'Or shall I just bring my food with me and it can be quickly miked?' that they generally jump at the chance.

I'm never too sure whether they all love me too much to risk making me ill or it's the thought of their loo being out of use for others for hours that makes them agree.....I do get asked back.

On the point of the things she's bought, tell her that you'd love to take them home to try them but really don't want to wreck her Christmas day if one of them makes you ill. I think if she's already been thoughtful enough to think of your needs already that she won't be in the least bit offended. You could always buy her some nice goodies to make up for her wasted money. I do hope all goes well x


Jillip, that's a good suggestion about taking foods homing and trying later. I am happy to try possibly suspect food (for example eating at a restaurant) if I know I have a week ahead that has nothing special happening in case I have my usual week of illness if contaminated.

I find it is the chopping board thing that people just won't get - even sensible concerned people who ask for guidance don't seem to be able to believe that.

I agree about the health having to come first. I have just sat and not eaten at events where the messages can't get through, but it is hard to be treated as a villain when all we are doing is staying alive. Good luck all.


I think we all sympathise with your situation, but as has been said above, it is only to stay alive and healthy!

It is a matter of education of others, and as opposed to preferences (i.e. vegetarians....not that I am criticising them)! our situation is not optional!

I am lucky that most of my relatives now has taken a while, though!

Anyway, good luck!


Try being vegetarian and gluten free lol

I have lots of other intolerance's as well now, so makes it very difficult, but the worst one along with alcohol, is still the gluten/wheat, which has truly disastrous effects.

It has been good to read everyone's comments here because I never really knew others had the problems with chopping boards and utensils. It even took me a very long time to get my husband to accept the problem with them and I have educated my own children to understand, easier because they saw the results of 'accidents', but it's still difficult with extended family and friends. Having read your comments I don't feel I am being awkward - it really is a problem - not just me!

I liked your comment InVivo "Isn't there some quote that says 'Because those who mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind'." I have heard that before and it has helped me let go of some 'friends', but it's different with family and some friends because it really does seem impossibly difficult for some people to understand or accept the problem if they have never experienced it themselves. That's why I really liked the solutions you and jillp suggest.

I have one clear example of how people find it difficult to believe that a crumb can make you hideously ill within 10 minutes despite detailed communication of the importance to avoid such minute contamination. Our family was invited to a friends for dinner some years back. I helped with the preparation and managed to secure clean plates on which to prepare my food separately from everyone else's and all seemed well, but half way through eating the meal I suddenly became violently ill and spent the next half hour being held up on the toilet by my husban, having violent diarrhea, dripping with sweat and almost passing out. It took me several hours to recover enough to drive the short distance home! I couldn't understand what had happened and I felt embarrassed and awful for spoiling the lovely dinner. However, several months later another mutual friend admitted that she knew what had happened. The other friend just didn't believe what I had told her and thought she would catch me out in a lie. When I wasn't looking, she sneaked a few crumbs into my meal, expecting that I wouldn't notice and she could tell me it was all in my mind afterwards! I didn't notice, but my body certainly did! Despite being shocked at how ill I was, she never admitted it herself nor was she even apologetic, so I felt that the saying was appropriate in her case. On the plus side, it's at least helped me have conviction that it's real not imagined, however much people doubt it, having passed the test so to speak. When things have become very tricky, I've sometimes told this experience and it's helped.

My sister-in-law is a nurse and has her own issues, but still can't seem to grasp how difficult it is for me, so doubt in oneself is never far away. I still feel ridiculous that whenever we go anywhere I have to take all my own paraphernalia and food and have to make a fuss about cross contamination by so much as a crumb. Finding out that other people also have to do this makes me feel loads better.

Good luck virgolizzy I hope all goes well for you with your husband's daughter :-)


Wow....that is so incredible that someone would do that to you, it's unbelievable. Why is it that some people just don't get it, they would never ever think to do that with people with a nut allergy, so why on earth would they do it to you. Just because they can't always see the result of the ingestion, they seem to think it doesn't exist. In reality what she did was deliberately poison you, it may as well have been deadly nightshade or something!! How you didn't have 'words' with her is also incredible, I take my hat off to you as I could never have kept my temper, but you have done the right thing & just cut her out of your life, well done you.

Yes I took their advise & sent a really lovely e mail etc....however I haven't had a reply to date, so lets' see what happens!!

However, with all your lovely replies, it has so put my mind at rest and I will not feel any obligation to eat foods that make me unwell, just to keep harmony & also we have to remember to always trust ourselves & not let self doubt creep in. So a huge thankyou 'guerillas'! x

ps - re your sister in law - I find people with a 'medical' background are the worst offenders in not fully understanding - how worrying is that!


This happens to me when I stay with a certain sector of my own family. I have said I'd rather bring my own stuff but it is often ignored. What do I do - I just leave what I don't want where it is.

If in advance they ignore you say "don't be offended but I'm not eating ........ as I have been SO ILL" (which is true). Drag your doctor into to the picture by saying they want you to avoid dairy for now.

If they continue to push because they have such an inflated EGO you can either say how lucky they are to have never suffered in this way (dragging this out and describing the biopsy is good) - believe me everyone tunes out when you start to do this :-) or talk about projectile vomiting. I once had true projectile vomiting at a dinner table and everyone has remembered!!! (And it was dairy not gluten that produced that response).

Your husband's daughter could be seen to be being thoughtful or seen to be trying to kill you off - just different perspectives of the same problem.

If you are so worried that it is making you obsessed now (and it's affecting you now) then you can always plan not to go. Tell your husband this and if he wants you to go with him then let him be assertive with his daughter. You don't have to self-sacrifice. As coeliacs we are ill and managing a horrible disease in the best way we can.


Thanks for the reply Jacks...more killing me off I think than thoughtful! LOL!

Fortunately my husband is very supportive & now that we've clarified this further to her via the super sweet e mail we both feel more comfortable about it & I agree with you all that I now won't self sacrifice myself on the day just to maintain peace or stroke egos. Looking forward to cooking my own Xmas food on Boxing Day!


Fantastic! Don't forget to tell us how it goes. Happy Xmas.


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