I can’t eat the birthday cake so I should have two gluten-free brownies instead! Oh, the Goldfish Crackers at soccer aren’t gluten-free so let’s get you a gluten-free donut instead. Grab a gluten-free cookie or muffin out of the freezer — because you can!  Hey, you may be eating junk food — but at least you’re staying on your gluten-free diet right?  If this is you…you may not be doing much for the rest of your health.

A radio show that airs in the Twin Cities called Dishing Up Nutrition aired on Saturday morning.  The show takes gluten-sensitivities and celiac disease very seriously (they mention them often), this week’s entire show was about gluten intolerance and autoimmune disorders.  The hosts had on Dr. Thomas O’Bryan, who deals with health and wellness in the Chicago area.  During his conversations with the ladies on the radio there was talk that often people who go gluten-free gain weight.   He says it doesn’t have to be that way, but in some cases there may be a sense of entitlement where you feel like you should be able to have a gluten-free muffin each day, rather than once every 3-4 days.  Does that sound like you?  I’ll be honest — it totally sounds like me as a mother to my celiac child.  But maybe I’m not doing my daughter any favors.

Gluten-Free Entitlement

I’m not sure where that sense of entitlement comes from?  Is it from grief?  Feeling sorry for myself and my daughter?  Right now, I supply Emma’s teacher with fantastic treats in case a birthday cake comes into class.  I always have donuts and muffins available for breakfast out (she brings her own muffin or donut and has eggs microwaved for her).  I never make chocolate chip cookies for my husband, yet I find myself making them at least three to five times a year for her to grab out of the freezer.  By golly, she’s entitled to a treat if she wants one.

That’s the way my heart feels — and maybe a little of my brain.  Entitled.  Sound extreme?  I can say I don’t know that I would feel this way if she wasn’t gluten-free and she could eat whatever she wanted.  But who knows.

Remove the entitlement– then what’s left?

Emma is lean and very active, but I am beginning to worry her future be different when the activity level settles (which it often does, especially for girls).  The replacement treats  she eats are gluten-free but they often are filled with sugar, fat, and low fiber carbs — good old fashioned empty calories.  Eating these highly refined grains (like rice flour) and sugars could lead to other health issues:  heart trouble, diabetes, and obesity, to name a few. This is where I insert what my kids actually DO eat:  My kids are not always shoving empty calories in their mouths..they do love lean meats, Emma’s pasta is made from brown rice, we do lots of milk, cheese, fruits, carrots (other veggies not so much), and I try to sneak ground flax seed in where I can.

If I remove the sense of entitlement and  try to look at this issue rationally — I would like to think all those tons of gluten-free cookies, bars, muffins, donuts and cakes are made only for special occasions.  I should buy donuts only once a year when my kids go see Grandma and Grandpa.  So Emma can have a donut when grandma and grandpa have coffee and a donut each morning.  Maybe the muffins are for breakfast during an infrequent road trip.  Or another option would be to make these at home with higher fiber flours like quinoa.

But that’s not the way I think. I feel I need to have these things around so my daughter doesn’t feel bad when she can’t have something.   The good thing is, on her own Emma doesn’t eat this stuff every day.

So it looks like Mom is the one who may need to work on that sense of entitlement.  Short-term goals….I need to find more healthy snacks and continue with pushing for healthier choices.  Whew!  Thanks for the therapy session!  Now I just need to make it happen.

Note:  Dishing Up Nutrition has podcasts of the broadcasts.  If the 10/17/2009 show on autoimmune disorders hasn’t posted yet, please check back.  I thought it was a good show.

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