You have been told by your doctor that you should try a Gluten Free diet
to help with migraines or digestive problems, your child may have been diagnosed with autism or you or someone close to you was diagnosed with Celiac disease and you walk away from your appointment thinking now what? Well now what starts here in this little blog.First of all I want to say I am NOT a registered dietitian and do not claim to be in any capacity. Who I am is a mom who has been feeding a child diagnosed with celiac disease for fourteen years and now a second child who is following a Gluten Free diet after conventional medicine failed to help her alleviate migraine headaches. I am sure I should be on the diet as well as I have digestive problems including bloating and bouts of diarrhea, lactose intolerance and headaches. When I was a child my mother always claimed that I had a “nervous stomach” and had to take some awful green liquid medication. Chances are that my issues are gluten related, but I am too lazy and too old to make changes, more lazy than old if I am being completely honest here.Our family’s journey into the world of Gluten Free eating began when my youngest child was diagnosed with Celiac Disease
at the age of 15 months. This child suffered from frequent bouts of diarrhea, vomiting, slow weight gain, reflux, and was diagnosed as failure to thrive. I breast fed this baby and so anything I consumed was passed right on to my daughter. Our pediatrician advised at different times that I eliminate foods from my diet such as onions, broccoli and other “gassy” foods as well as dairy and yes this helped a little but the digestive problems persisted. Eventually we were referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist specialist who was a God send. I all children have a 50% chance of developing reflux, add in the fact that this child was born 11 weeks premature and their risk increased and finally if we took into account the medications I received to help stop and slow down my labor the baby was at high risk for developing reflux. Reflux explained some of my baby’s symptoms but not all and so we went in for further testing. My baby was tested for everything and anything you can think of including cystic fibrosis. I was impressed when the GI doctor asks about our Irish heritage and explained that he suspected my child has Celiac Disease. 1 blood test and a small bowel biopsy later the answer was clear my child has Celiac Disease. The doctor explained to me there is no cure and the only way to help is to put the child on a Gluten Free diet. I had NO freaking clue where to start in my quest to feed my child. I searched online, read anything I could get my hands on, consulted a nutrtionist and joined a support group. It was in the support group where I was able to connect with other parents coping with the same issues as I was. In those days Gluten Free foods were available primarily by mail order and the selections were far and few between.Eating Gluten free has been a 14 year learning experience and I feel like I am still learning as I go along. SO here we are and you have been told to try out the GF diet the question is still…Now what..you will get advice from a variety of people but here are a few basics…
Well the first thing you need to do is educate yourself. You need to learn how to read food labels because gluten can be found in sneaky ways in a multitude of ingredients. As I develop this blog a bit more I will add links to this information
Next after you have some idea you need to clean out your refrigerator. The biggest setback to a GF diet is cross contamination. Cross contamination happens when people use the same toaster or share condiments with non GF eaters. A rule to remember is 1 crumb of gluten causes six weeks of damage. If I were to cook in 2 separate pots a serving of gluten-free and non gluten-free pastas and strained them , if I drop 1 single piece of regular pasta into the gluten-free batch,that whole batch is contaminated and is unable to be eaten by the person(s) on the GF diet. SO…a sharpie and labels will become your friends at the start of your journey. Get a fresh jar of mayonnaise, mustard, jelly,peanut butter etc..whatever you use and label them as GF and if you need to only use clean utensils.
My family has a dedicated toaster for GF breads and items that we use. i would advise using a toaster oven as this will allow you to toast your bread on a piece of tin foil if need be.
Cleanliness and constant attention to what you are eating are very important,avoiding cross contamination is the key here. Make sure that you clean your dishes and pots and pans in a dishwasher if at all possible. The dishwasher sanitizes your eating and cooking dishes, pots and utensils so there are no traces of gluten.
Now it is time to go shoping..what do you eat? Here is a simplified version of what you need to cut out, WHEAT, oats (there is debate about oats as by themselves they do not contain gluten, but most oats in the USA are processed with wheat and hence they are contaminated with gluten) barley,rye. what this translates to you in the beginning is no bread,pasta or pizza…well none of those products that are available at pizza shops or in most aisles at the grocery store.
the good news is this…going GF is not a death sentence and it does not mean that you can not eat flavorful foods. You can eat pizza (GF of course) and bread, pretzels and even pasta. There are meals that you probably already make now that are GF. Things like baked chicken (no bread crumbs or stuffing) or grilled steak or pork chops with sweet potatoes or regular potatoes, rice or salad. The key to eating GF is all about flavor.
So for now I am ending this, I will add grocery items that we use often list as I attempt to find to time to write this. I will also start adding recipes. I can convert almost any recipe in any cookbook into a GF version including my favorite cook Ina Garten from The Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa(love love love Ina) Along the way I have developed my own secrets and shortcuts to cooking, eating and living Gluten Free..I hope to share this all with you