A Celiac and the Slumberparty

Everyone has baggage. A kid from a previous marriage. A phobia. That one annoying ex-boyfriend who calls you every hour of the night to say, "Hi." 

For me, though, that baggage is literal. It's my small, foot by foot blue cooler that follows me like a lost puppy with a hero-worship disorder. And, when I went to a sleepover one night ago, guess who sat buckled into the passenger's seat of my car? 

Since my diagnosis, my desire to be prepared has become militant. And why wouldn't it be? I've been glutened before and heck no is that happening again. That doesn't mean I enjoy doing it, though. 

For my two day adventure, I pulled out all the trimmings: bags of grapes, strawberries, one banana, two muffins (one Chocolate and Blueberry) and a trip to my favorite Japanese hole-in-the-wall for a gluten free Salmon Bowl. Chopsticks included. If my memories of glutened writhing couldn't squash any gluten cravings, my tank of a cooler (complete with gluten free sugar and flavor bombs) should do the trick. 

And, all during the party, my preparation seemed to work. While my friends dug into homemade pasta, toasted rolls complete with Parmesan and grapes, I showed off my (awful) chopstick skills and filled up on Japanese.

Later that night, the cooler saved me again. One movie finished and another on the way, we paused for a food party. They poured potato chips and popcorn (that were gluten free but too prone for cross contamination for me to crave) and concocted tall glasses of Root beer floats. My (awesome) friends apologized the whole time and I consoled myself with the fact that I hated Root beer anyway (even though that ice cream looked pretty dang yummy) and downed a chocolate chip muffin

My friends' gluten-filled feast.

I didn't even mind breakfast the next day, as I ran to the cooler for my morning muffin and banana while my friends devoured a box of Corn Pops. When I finally said goodbye a few hours later, all I felt was elation at the great time I spent with friends and the exhaustion that commonly accompanies sleepovers with teenage girls. 

I was flummoxed when I arrived home and promptly suffered a mini melt down.

Suddenly, the embarrassment of towing my blue ice bus, the feeling of alienation at being unable to share in the sleepover treats, the anxiety at answering all of my friends' polite and well-meaning questions about my diet (You can eat fruit, right? What about soda? But not bread and cereal?) flooded my brain. "I should be able to hang with friends without dealing with all this!" I thought. "I'm a teenager! I'm about to go college! This is supposed to be the best time of my life!"

But the fact is, celiac disease is blind to age, to sex, to morality, to any of the characteristics we think warrants a "pass" from health issues. Hoarding good karma by giving money to the poor or solving world peace can't fix celiac disease; only a gluten free diet, no matter how difficult it may be, can

Despite my tears, I consider my sleepover a success. All during the night and morning, I had a great time. I focused on my friends, college, movies, Doctor Who and all the other facets that form my life besides my disease. When I dug in my cooler for a snack instead of her fridge, I didn't waver. I assured my friends that my diet wasn't a big deal instead of the other way around and I believed it. 

I only had a problem when, while exhausted, I arrived home and analyzed the details. To me, that is a baby step in the right direction. I've progressed from worrying about my eating habits during to afterwards, and it will only get better. With more experience, I won't feel embarrassed, alienated or worried about sounding "too weird" when explaining my dietary needs. 

The bottom line is, my cooler of gluten free snacks isn't baggage. It's a fashion accessory. And I know that one day soon I will be able to rock this belief 105%

How do you store snacks for social events? When did you become confident with your disease or are you still waiting? Comment below! 


  1. Good attitude! I find myself constantly apologizing for pulling out my tupperware of food when I'm out with friends, but each time it gets easier and easier. Soon enough it'll just be the norm. I love the colors on your cooler, too!

  2. Thanks. I try really hard to stay positive, no matter what all is going on. So glad that not-apologizing is getting easier - and that's the goal! Making celiac disease normal. Haha glad you like the colors too - at least my baby has some bling! :)

  3. I've been gluten free for 2 1/2 years now but I've been bringing my own food to various places and events for about 3 years due to people not knowing how to feed a vegetarian/vegan. For quite a while I felt embarrassed about it. I still do from time to time (like when my boyfriend invites me to go hang out with some friends at a restaurant I know I can't eat at) but it does lessen with time. Mostly the people hosting the event apologize profusely to me for not having food I can eat, but then I explain to them how sensitive I am (If I have food cooked on the same skillet as gluten has, even if it has been cleaned very well, I'll still get sick). They understand after that and I reassure them that it isn't anything to worry about and I know how to take care of myself.

    1. Glad to know that I'm not alone with this! I'm not sure if I'll ever feel completely not awkward with my cooler, but I definitely think it will get easier just as it has with you! Thanks for sharing and hope your food journey is going well! :)


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