Thursday, July 30, 2009

Celiac Spirits in a Gluten World

Well, I have a long list of topics to catch up on with you.

But even before I do that, I want to talk about our need to be vigilant in order to stay on the GF diet. For me, the better I do for myself at home and the more comfortable I feel relying on safe products and a growing number of GF items available in restaurants, the more I relax about asking questions when ordering and working to educate others on our Celiac needs.

For example, I went to Outback a few days ago, and asked for the Gluten Free menu. They brought out a large, laminated tri-fold menu, printed in color. It was the same size as the regular menu. They are really invested in this, I thought. How wonderful. I ordered a very simple chicken dish (grilled chicken on the Barbie, I think it was), and had a side of mashed potatoes. That might have been a mistake.

6 hours later, approx. 3 in the morning, I awoke to the uncontrollable scratching of a Dermititis Herpetiformis rash. The other food I had eaten that day was leftovers from home (I think I had grits, yogurt, coffee, maybe a leftover baked sweet potato or hamburger from my GF grill), and some Almondy Daim cake at IKEA. (which is totally amazing, more on that soon).

I have no idea where the gluten came from. But how easy would it be for a crumb to fall into the mashed potatoes? Or for a crumb to fall into the barbecue sauce I had on the side w/the chicken. Or maybe a crouton fell in there and they fished it out earlier that day. What I mean to say is that unless we are eating at a facility with a dedicated kitchen, we are still at risk of being glutened.

The week before, I went to my local tavern for dinner with my neighbor and ordered a salad with oil and vinegar, was assured by the waiter that the chicken was gluten free, after he double-checked, and then 2/3 of the way through the salad found a crouton.

In the past couple days I figured out that whatever days I was eating tostadas at home, while they do not contain specific gluten ingredients, must contain gluten in some way due to my DH reaction again. Or could it have been something else? Yes. But I don't know.

So I'm not saying I do not appreciate the efforts of the establishments like Outback and others who are trying to cater to our dietary needs. Of course I appreciate them! What I AM saying is that we still need to Trust No One to be caring about our diet as much as we should, and we need to remain attentive and vigilant. After all, it is our permanent health and well-being we're talking about here.

I want it to be easy. We all do. So these couple incidents are a bit of a wake-up call for Emily to get back on the wagon. Become vigilant again and look for more products for home that are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Ask questions. Eat at home as much as possible. Buy the more expensive, safe products. (but plan meals better so I don't buy things I don't really need).

I had the unique opportunity to tour the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse a couple weeks ago, and I was really impressed with their commitment to safety. They test every single batch of outside ingredients used in their products. They have found gluten sometimes in places it should not be. And they will tell their supplier and not use the product. They are looking out for us! Thanks, Lee and the bakehouse staff! (more on this later).

Celiac Disease is still a medical condition; our diet is still a prescription. I'm disappointed in myself for allowing myself to be glutened because I just got a little complacent.

There is still a lot of educating others that we must do in order to make our world safer for us and our Celiac friends and family.

Keep talking, keep sharing. Keep telling your story.
The world is listening.


  1. I eat pretty much all my meals at home too because I've been assured so many times that something is safe, only to end up very sick afterwards. Not worth it.

    I'm still so interested in how you were able to take a tour of Whole Foods' GF Bakehouse! Did you ask them, or were you invited? Either way, so cool that you did it.

  2. I've had that problem at the Outback a few times...never at the restaurant next door, Carraba's. But at my Carraba's there happens to be a few Celiacs working there. That is the difference I think.