To some it may be hard to believe that our 3 kids have no McDonald’s memories. Our oldest was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was 2 so she doesn’t ever remember eating there. We don’t have cable or satellite TV so they don’t see the commercials either. Since the diagnosis of both my daughter and my husband we never eat there so the kids have no idea what it’s all about. We have nicknamed the restaurant McGluten’s. I am aware that they do have a couple of items on their menu that are gluten free but it is things like salad and yogurt. Ummm, no thanks. So when I found myself out doing errands a couple of days after Christmas with my 4 year old (who has never shown any reaction to the limited amount of gluten she has eaten in her life) I decided to do a little experiment. My daughter was complaining of being hungry. No problem. I never leave home without something to eat in my purse. Well never except for that day. I had been sick so I guess maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly. Maybe that was why I took the easiest option and took her to McDonald’s. Millions of other parents do it so why not? As we got into line I asked her what she wanted. She said “What do they have here?” The guy in front of us looked back at us, laughed and said something about being surprised that she didn’t already know what she wanted. I told her what the choices were. I had to explain what a McNugget was. She finally decided on those with fries and an apple juice. We took the kid’s meal to the table and sat down. She was so excited to get her lunch in a colorful box. She immediately asked if she could take the box home. You can imagine her reaction when she opened the box to find not only her lunch but a toy. She shrieked loudly that “Someone put a toy in here!” The two tables near us giggled over her excitement. I told them that it was her first time there. They looked at me like they couldn’t decide if I was joking or not. I wondered for a moment if she would now be begging to come back regularly. Had I just opened a huge Pandora’s box? Once the excitement of the toy subsided she remembered she was hungry. She dug in. She ate a grand total of one and a half nuggets, one taste of the sauce, one solitary french fry and all of her apple juice. I asked her why she didn’t want to eat anymore and her response was one that made me proud. She said, “I don’t like it.” Yay! Score for REAL FOOD! Since that day she has asked to go back once. She wanted another toy but not the food.
I have said it before and I will say it again. Celiac disease has been a good thing for our family. Prior to CD I never once considered what I put in my mouth. I assumed that all those things that I couldn’t pronounce on the ingredient list were food and were safe and benign. I loved McDonald’s. We ate out every day, sometimes more than once a day. I had absolutely no idea of the close relationship between food and health, both physical and mental health. While CD does in fact make life far more complicated at times and it certainly would be better not to have it, those are things that I can not change. I choose to focus on the many positive things that have come of it.