Celiac Disease in your Home

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Gluten is hidden in every kind of food you can imagine. When you look at it, the list is gigantic. Not just food, but beauty products and deodorants and even in glue for the crafts with the kids.

Gluten, gluten gluten. Saying those words and people get caught up in the ‘fad’ that is the gluten-free diet. Individuals that are on the gluten-free diet for non-medical reasons never have to worry about cross contamination. And that’s where it is.

Cross contamination.

The cross contamination of ONE crumb of gluten. One speck; the size of a pencil point, of an average type wheat based bread can send the body of a diagnosed celiac into a frenzy and trigger over 200 symptoms (ranging from mad poops, brain fog and even acne). Cross contamination is the second thing that diagnosed celiacs have to worry about, the first being whether the food we’re eating is actually gluten-free. If celiac’s aren’t worried about the food in front of them, they’re usually worrying about the food around them. It can be a vicious cycle.

That mentality is something that a lot of people don’t understand. That’s why celiac awareness is so important. Educating the public about celiac disease and informing those who live with us about the harmful effects of cross contamination and intentional/accidental gluten ingestion.

It’s a fact that some diagnosed celiacs live in shared food households. Situations like that can’t be avoided for reasons that aren’t anyone’s business, but when issues of cross contamination and constantly dodging bread crumbs on the kitchen counter become a daily problem; switching to an ALL gluten-free household might be the next logical step.

‘Never having to say you’re sorry’ is a great little saying to throw around when it comes to the people that you live with. But, have you ever considered saying ‘never having to ask someone to use a separate utensil to spread the sour cream’?

A simple and effective way to avoid gluten cross contamination is by using different utensils every time you dip into the peanut butter or the mayonnaise. When one person in the house has celiac disease, a very serious illness, that can only be treated with gluten-free food, this path to maintain a healthy life is very easy too do. After laying out the rules and the  ground work for this procedure the percentage of gluten cross contamination diminishes.

By being a diagnosed celiac in a shared food house hold, you become your own mega-advocate and spout off what should be done about gluten-free food, your symptoms and the dire effects of ingesting gluten is like due to cross contamination. It’s when this simple rule isn’t followed that the blood boils. Witnessing someone across the table use the same spoon to spread sour cream on a flour based tortilla shell and place the spoon back in the container like there was no care in the world. Ignoring the ONE SIMPLE RULE in place to protect you.

In these types of homes celiac advocacy is important as much as it is in the public. Start locally and move on to the world. A diagnosed adult can speak for them selves, but a child with celiac might not be able to stand up and say that kind of behaviour isn’t right. A simple rule like using a different spoon can mean the difference between having a great day, or spending the next few hours in the washroom with mega-poops and the next week feeling weak, sore and tired, possibly missing work or school or social gatherings or family functions.

Is it ignorance? Forgetfulness? Sometimes, the truth is never known.

Shared food households are common and they do work. Sometimes they need a little work. No one is perfect and what works well for one family might not work for the next. As long as there is someone in the home who supports and aides in the food rules like a wife, husband, sister or mother then the ride with celiac disease and shared food households goes a lot smoother.

Everything takes time, patience and practice. Even with celiac disease. Especially with celiac disease.

Gluten and all the Cross Contamination

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It’s not very often a personality or celiac/gluten-free writer like myself gets to go out into the world of culinary skills and impart some kind of wisdom. If there is something I am not, it’s a chef or baker or any kind of wizard in the kitchen. I was granted the opportunity to tell a group of individuals about the potential dangers of gluten cross contamination.

There was a time when I wrote an article for a magazine. That article was about how a kitchen was ‘dirty’ with gluten. Gluten in the form of wheat flour and how really, in the grande scheme of things gluten cross contamination was inevitable. That article never saw the light of day because it was decided that no one wanted to infer that restaurant kitchens are dirty. But if anyone was to read the article and look below the surface, the ‘dirt’ being considered was in fact gluten.

If there is ever a time to talk about gluten cross contamination, it is now (actually, its always).

At a time when the celiac and their 100% gluten-free diet can sometimes be held at the same level as someone who doesn’t need to medically be on said diet. Yes, ‘trendy’ and ‘fad’ get thrown around. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Restaurants are now seeing that there is a need to comply with customers like the medically diagnosed gluten free eaters. I have Celiac Disease and I need to eat 100% gluten-free and a crumb the size of a pencil point can harm me. It can throw my whole body out of whack. It could be days, or weeks. That’s the special prize you get with Celiac: you never know what’s going to happen to you when you ingest gluten, and you never know for how long.

I was able to take these new kitchen minds and tell them about my woes at a restaurant and the concerns that Celiacs have when they eat out. Shared food kitchens are common in the dining industry, so someone has to make it known that a gluten-free diet is as important as a person with a peanut allergy. Yes, an individual could possible die from peanuts, and the kitchen staff knows this and takes the precaution to eliminate it from the dish being served.

Since my Celiac Disease isn’t written across my face when I eat gluten, should that make it any less severe than a peanut allergy?

I don’t require medical attention and I don’t go into anaphylaxis when I ingest gluten. The damage done to me on my insides is invisible. It could disrupt my whole digestive system and agitate my stomach. I could be in the bathroom fart, pooping or throwing up and then not spending anytime with my wife an daughter. Because I was given gluten the size of a pen tip, all my plans to spend time with my family has been shot down.

What about work? How do I go to my job when my stomach has been bloated out due to gas build-up? Now I miss time off work.

That ONE LITTLE CRUMB does more than damage my villi, it affects every person down the line. Anyone who might be connected to rely on me.

Celiac Disease isn’t pretty (especially when I talk about farting and pooping), but thats the way it goes. If no one takes the time to tell a rookie chef the potential dangers of disregarding gluten, then, where does it end? If the proper protection and care of a gluten-free meal is given to that one meal, imagine the look on that customer’s face. Imagine how they feel when they can safely eat a meal at a restaurant?

As a father who makes gluten-free pancakes every Sunday, I thrive on having those eating them being satisfied. I have to assume a person, a chef making my meal, my safe gluten-free meal at a restaurant must feel the same when they create, plate and serve.

To the people, students, professionals and chefs that listens to me for an hour. Waxing on about gluten and gluten cross contamination. They are now the people at the fore-front who will take what i told them and pass it on as they continue on their career paths in the kitchen: at home or at work. As long as they got something from me and passed along an iota of the information abut gluten and the potential dangers of cross contamination for Celiacs and the medical diagnosed gluten-free eaters, then, awesome.