Thursday, March 11, 2010

How gluten free are we?

I decided to write this post sooner than I meant to after Jenna's first comment on my last post. She's right, making two meals is crazy! But while we are pretty gluten free, we are not completely gluten free.

The only celiac in our house is the monkey, the rest of us (mom, dad, and two younger brothers) are not. My big main pantry is gluten free, but I have a small cupboard where I keep: Quaker oatmeal instant packets, generic cheerios and graham crackers for my 18-month-old, a box of goldfish if they are lucky, some pancake mix, and regular spaghetti. I have a shelf where I keep the wheat bread, and I keep the gf bread in the fridge. (We also have two toasters, one exclusively for GF bread. They are on separate counters and the GF one is covered with a cozy in an effort to keep it GF.) My fridge and freezer are mostly gluten free, but if I put anything in there that is not gluten free, I make sure it is well labeled with a permanent marker and wrapped so that it will not crumb all over the place. I also have separate butter, peanut butter, jam, honey, and mayonaisse containers, all well-labeled with a permanent marker.

I always make a gluten-free dinner; the only thing close to an exception is spaghetti, where I make gluten free sauce and meatballs, but both kinds of spaghetti noodles. I'm just careful to dish the monkey up first, and then scoop and plop, so that my serving spoon doesn't contaminate the sauce.

My husband makes his own Quaker oatmeal or wheat toast for breakfast, and packs his lunch before any of the rest of us are even out of bed. (I love him even more for being able to feed himself!) Breakfast for me and the kids is usually simple, fast, and made to order (haha) for each person: bowls of gf or Quaker oatmeal, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, or frozen and reheated oatmeal bars, muffins, or pancakes. I like to make a big batch of GF pancakes, pack them up, make a big batch of regular pancakes, and freeze everything, well-labeled, of course.

I pack the monkey a GF lunch the night before school days. So that leaves the rest of us to eat sandwiches or whatever. If everyone is home, I might make something gluten free for lunch or serve leftovers. Or just make separate sandwiches for everyone.

I have pretty much given up baking anything that is not gluten free (just those dang rolls at Thanksgiving!) and I make our treats gluten free. If for some reason I have a non-gluten free treat for the little boys, I make sure I have a GF treat for the monkey that is as good or better.

As for contamination, I try to keep a clean kitchen and to make sure I prepare his food on clean surfaces. It's been a long time since he's acted like I "glutened" him. And I don't worry about him cheating; he did it once and it made him sick and he's never tried again. So far his doctor has said his blood tests have come back showing that he isn't being exposed to gluten.

When he was diagnosed and we were trying to decide whether or not to go completely gluten free I read Danna Korn's book about raising celiac kids. In her discussion of the issue, she says the world is not gluten free; but the safest and most controlled environment to learn how to deal with a non-gluten free world is at home. I tend to agree with her. The monkey has had diabetes for years, celiac for about a year and a half, and I feel strongly that not only do I have a responsibility to keep him healthy, but a responsibility to teach him how to keep himself healthy. I have no idea what he will do in life, I doubt he wants to take me to college with him, and I don't know if or who he will marry and if she can deal with his dietary issues, so my best option for dealing with those unknowns is to teach and train him to be capable of taking care of himself. (Shopping, cooking, baking GF, counting carbs, reading labels, figuring insulin doses, getting exercise, running his insulin pump, etc. etc. etc.)

How gluten free is your house? Is it for convenience, economics, or to prevent contamination?


  1. As I said (and apparently caused a post! lol) in the comments - my house is pretty much all GF. While I'm the one with celiac, my husband decided the day the results came back from the doctor that, at home at least, we'd do this together. When we're out together, he can eat what he wants - but he DOES eat GF at work... but that's because I pack his lunch.

    In my case it's a little of all the reasons you gave. It's easier in the morning before the caffeine hits my brain to be able to grab anything on the shelf and not have to doublecheck what I'm eating. "Did I grab the right oats? Which cereal is mine again?" It's cheaper... because I'm just buying one of something - and things don't get wasted. AND it keeps contamination a zero worry.

    I'm really lucky. My husband views this as a challenge - how far can we go in making gf the easy choice? The better tasting option? We're in the 10th month of being gluten free and only recently did he actually come out and SAY why he chose this shared path. I'd been ill - the whole time we were friends, dated, engaged, and now into our 3rd year of marriage. In the year before I was diagnosed though, it got worse. He was convinced I was going to die - just waste away in front of him. When we got the news that all it would take was a diet change? He says I promised him a long long marriage. And if mucking around in the kitchen together means we have 50-60+ years together... ban the wheat and bring on the experiments!

    And yeah. I know just how blessed I am!

  2. Jenna, what a great guy you found! I hope you do have 50-60 years or more of gluten-free wedded bliss!

  3. We are a "mixed" household too -- my son and I are both Celiacs and GF, but my husband is Glutenous Maximus. (He has is own toaster and his own drawer in the fridge for his bagels and breads. But, it's easier for me to make totally GF dinners -- even when I make pasta -- and he finds it all tasty. He fills up on gluten when he's away from home.

    I think that, if we had a larger family, I would go to the bother of making two separate pots of pasta, but we're only a family of three, and two of us are GF.

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