To say that going from a regular ol’ family of six to getting one of the kids diagnosed with celiac disease and overhauling our entire family diet, to learning another child is gluten intolerant, and realizing I am, too, was an adjustment is a bit of an understatement.
EVERYTHING involving our food had to change. We threw out appliances that were caked with gluten (like the toaster) and got all new ones. We stripped the pantry bare and started all over. We downloaded apps on our phones (that we still use) to tell us what groceries and restaurants are safe.
And it never ends. As the mom, I’ve had to learn to pack gluten free lunches, provide for and educate on school snacks and treats, learn how to travel as a family for extended periods of time, and send my kids away to camp and grandparents’ houses while keeping them safe and healthy.
We had an awesome support system from family that had been in that situation already (and stayed sane), plus a million internet resources to fall back on, which is a life saver because there is just so much to think about. Things you’d never consider before, like has that stick of butter been contaminated by bread crumbs on a knife? Does the imitation vanilla extract has gluten in its caramel color? Which candy in her Halloween bucket is safe for her to eat?
In honor of November being Gluten-Free Diet Awareness month, I’ve partnered with Foster Farms to share some things I wish other people knew about living a gluten-free life. I needed some help, though, so I asked my Facebook friends (several of whom are gluten-free) what they wanted to share.
My friend Patricia had a lot to say on the subject:
“Even though my kid may not go into anaphylactic shock, she still can’t eat wheat. At a restaurant (or anywhere for that matter), stop treating my child as though she’s a ‘problem’ or ‘difficult.’ Lunch doesn’t HAVE to include a sandwich. For the love of God, my 11 year old loves salad but there are other gluten free options than salads.”
Carisa said “That it really is a medical condition, not just a fad.” (Amen.)
Joanna told me, “Eating gluten free without celiac disease doesn’t mean you’re just into a fad diet. I’m gluten free because it just doesn’t agree with my body. I’m not going to try to convince other people to eat the way I do, but I do eat the way I do because it is best for my body. I’m not trying to be difficult. When I bring my own food it’s not being snobby, it’s because I know how hard it is to cook for me because I do it every day.”
Katy shared that “rice doesn’t have gluten. Also: yes it matters if cleaning supplies and shampoo have gluten. It’s not about trendy. It’s about avoiding contaminating eating surfaces and avoiding rashes.”
Becca said “If I turn down an offering of food, don’t take it personally. If I bring my own food despite you assuring me yours is “gluten free” don’t be offended. Unless you’re in the trenches with the side effects, you really have no idea all of the tiny places my food allergies hide because I didn’t either. I learned the hard way and I don’t want to go back. Also I could totally do without the comments like “why are you eating that without a bun? It’s not like you need to lose weight”. I don’t drink much soda anymore but when I do, I still get “why are you drinking diet? Are you on a diet?!” Um no. I am diabetic and a regular soda will freaking kill me! I don’t go around slapping cupcakes and Big Mac’s out of people’s hands. Smh.”
Katie had this to say (from an “outsider’s perspective”: “I know parents complain about kids with food allergies and having to accommodate them. Drives me crazy. My kids don’t have allergies, but sheesh. Can we not accept that there are more kids with allergies than when we went to school? Isn’t a child’s life more important than home baked stuff??”
And Heather wrapped it up with “Celiac is not visible, you will not see my child react, it is not a fad. My husband was basically starving to death by the time they diagnosed him-people thought he was just on whatever diet took out carbs. No, GMO does not mean gluten free. Triple check restaurants that say they have gluten free pizza crust or hamburger buns; cross contamination happens from using the same utensils and dipping in to the same toppings. Talk to your child’s teacher about having a snack bag in the classroom or the teacher letting you know ahead of time if there will be a snack in the class so you can try to match it with a gf option.”
See? SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT. We could go on and on, but I’ll save some of my soap box for next time.
Thanks to Foster Farms for encouraging me to get the word out about eating (and living) gluten-free. I was not compensated for this post, I just think it’s really important.