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I eat gluten free. My grandma has been living with us for 3 months now. She's nearly 80 and loves to cook, especially bake. I feel guilty over the frustration this causes me, but there it is. She tosses flour all around my kitchen for hours at a time. I feel like I can't get in there to make myself something to eat. I have to wash all her dishes and scour the kitchen after she's done. Last time there was flour on the counter, floor, dishwasher front, stove top and front, my blender, microwave front, fruit and fruit tray, tv and remote (on the kitchen counter). You get the idea. Did I mention she's nearly 80? She's a sweet old lady and she feels so good about cooking for people, its a big part of her identity and I refuse to step on it in any way. I really don't want to say a word. She makes comments on how well she's containing the flour mess. She thinks keeping the flour bag inside a plastic bag pretty much does the trick. She really just doesn't see/get it. Gah! Any advice/tips? I mostly just deal with my frustration quietly. She's in there tossing flour around right now. I'm soooooo hungry!!!!!! I'm just waiting for her to be done so I can clean up the aftermath and feel safe to make myself something to eat.
 

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Can you get her to bake with GF flours? I can't even imagine the anxiety that would cause me. Who is she baking this stuff for? The rest of your family? Ask her to bake something that you can eat as well. It might be an interesting challenge for her.
 

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Ack. That sounds like a serious health risk for you. I'd purchase a really good gluten free blend and information from the gluten free goddess on baking gluten free.
 

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Oh how I wish that would work. Like I imagine most 80 year olds are, she's very stuck in her ways. If she doesn't have the exact brand of something that she always uses in her recipes she will not make that recipe until she has it. I kid you not. Interesting to say the least. I don't drive so this has often led her to calling on rides just so she buy one thing she wants to cook with that day (of course once there, she shops). She won't bake gluten free. She's very afraid of not being successful when she cooks. She even says a prayer before she cooks to ask that her food will turn out good. Its just part of who she is. That said, it is a good idea really, for anyone but her, lol. And yes she cooks for the rest of the family. And everyone really. She goes to church and is a very social lady. She's always giving away baked goods. She also sells baked goods at an Ox Roast in the summer. Oh my, I'm not looking forward to that. She tells stories about baking sun up to after sun down for days to prepare for this.
 

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I think you have to say something, sweetie. She's making you sick - and I'm sure she doesn't want to be doing that. And I understand her being set in her ways. But even you cleaning up after her likely affects you.

Can you ask her to do her baking in the church kitchen? Or a friend's house? Or only one day a week in your kitchen? Or can you set up a kitchen space in another room (counter space + oven + shelves to store her ingredients)? That way she can still bake, and you can still be well.
 

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I agree. I know how older people are (set in their ways about cooking, my grandmother was the same way) so getting her to bake gluten free would not be an easy task. But there's got to be some sort of compromise. For one, can you get everything else out of the kitchen, or away from the baking area (fruit bow, remote controls, etc.) so that at least it's only counter space that's getting the brunt of it? And don't hesitate to tell her that you feel sick. If she sees/hears you sick every day, that would help curb her zeal perhaps.
 

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This may not work, but maybe if caretaking is part of her identity (not sure but sounds like it maybe is too) you could somehow get her on board with learning to do gluten free for you so that at least a portion of her cooking is less anxiety provoking for you. Kind of like "ohhh, it is such a luxury to be able to have this delicious food someone else cooked that is safe for me! How wonderful!" Maybe she'd be proud to add an extra skill to her cooking repetoire (sp?). Maybe she'd also feel "needed" and everyone always likes that feeling. I feel for you...I came home to find my parents giving my son rice milk that contained soy last week when he is allergic to it and I clearly said "don't give him ANYTHING that isn't right on this counter." ugh. Sometimes it is complicated for older generations or people who don't have to deal with it themselves. good luck.
 

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Ugh - I know the feeling of being so out of it that you can`t figure out what might have caused you to get sick - ick! hope you feel better soon.

My suggestion - maybe sounds crazy, but I actually have something similar for simple meal prep in the woodstove-room:

If I were you and getting her to stop cooking/cook elsewhere/change her habits really didn`t feel like an option, I would set up a mini-kitchen for myself in another part of the house. Get a little cabinet and put in the ingredients you use most (salt, a few herbs and spices, GF baking mixes or flours, whatever else you use regularly), a few basic cooking tools (wooden spoon, rubber spatula - or if you are feeling up for it you can do a lot of cooking tasks with large pair of chopsticks) and set up a food processer, a toaster oven and a single burner (I don`t know if you can get them where you are, but here you can get a single IH burner for the countertop for around fifty bucks). Also get a dishpan to transport your dirty stuff to the kitchen, and a nice tray or a sturdy basket to bring whatever other ingredients you might need to your kitchenette, and I think you might be set.

good luck with whatever you choose!!

sara
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Part of what keeps me from saying anything is I had thought this was a temporary arrangement. I really wanted to spare her feelings and tough it out, so to speak. She was living with her brother, but he was being verbally abusive. She left all of her things and was staying with her son. She was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery. While she was in a special building for recovery for a couple weeks her son and his wife basically said she couldn't stay with them any longer. She had no place else to go, despite the fact that she was told not to walk up steps for six weeks and we live in a second story apartment. She had hopes of getting her own place after well enough. I've let her know she's welcome to stay with us as long as she wants/needs. And I mean it. I really think money is a big issue. She's looking to rent a house for such a small amount of money I don't think she'll ever find one. And she basically refuses to look at senior housing options. She feels they won't have a big enough kitchen/yard/etc.

Anyway, I think you're all right. If this IS going to be long term I'm going to have to speak with her and make some arrangements/plans. My biggest concern is she will feel as though she has to move out. She's very proud and sensitive. I don't want her to feel like that at all. I just can't live with this. I wouldn't be able to ask her not to bake here. This is her home, yk? I know she'd never feel welcome in a place where she wasn't welcome in the kitchen, so to speak. She'll literally go on for an hour about how proud she is of her cooking and how happy she is making everyone. She has a picture book full of cakes she's baked for people. Things like this make me feel guilty. I raided the cupboard today for things to feed the birds outside because they were hungry and waiting for something. My grandma started talking about baking them bread tomorrow so they'll have food to eat. This shouldn't make my heart sink, but it does. What a sucky position to be in. A little old lady being super sweet and kind makes me unhappy.

I'm going to have to think on this for awhile. I really don't know what to say or even what I want to say, yk?
 

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((hugs))) No, no, no! Don't feel guilty, for being "you". It's not your fault that her identity is tied up in the food=love paradigm, especially the baked goods=love one it sounds like.

I don't envy your position! Maybe if you explain a little how it's been cross contaminating you somehow and giving you symptoms, honestly and candidly, and ask her what she thinks you should do about it or offer a solution. You shouldn't have to suffer because she has placed such a high importance on feeding people with carbs and sugar. (not good for diabetics or people with high triglycerides or overweight people either- in fact, not good for anyone, perhaps just "less harmful" IMHO.)

** Ironically, I wonder if since she is genetically related to you if she possesses one or both HLA genes for gluten sensitivity/celiac. They say you crave what's the worst for you sometimes! I wonder if it wouldn't be best for her to quit. OK, off soapbox. Please let us know how it goes or if you want more feedback. Such a delicate situation, but one that can't be put off too long...
 

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You're so right that pride, independence and not being a burden are so important to older people. Once they lose that, they deteriorate physically and mentally very quickly. But I understand how difficult it can be to discuss without offending them!

Maybe there is a community centre, church, or similar which would love to have her helping out and baking for their people? That way she would feel needed, and you would have a clear run in your kitchen.

Just a thought......
 
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