Learning To Be Celiac & Gluten Free

When I discovered there was an eating pattern that would take away the pain in my gut permanently, I couldn’t wait to start. Spring and fall every year I was in hospital. Nobody ever mentioned diet. So I started, timid at first, checking all the sites on the net where they tell you whether or not a product has gluten in it.
I found out that: 1) all the fast food restaurants have allergy sheets that tell you what’s in their food. 2) Being celiac’s like a board game you play everyday called, Find The Gluten. You win more and more as you get to know your enemy. 3) Ingredient lists are often really really tiny print. 4) There’s gluten in meds and even in juice. 5) The pain is a great incentive to pay attention to where the gluten is. 6) Once it goes away, it doesn’t come back. 7) Lactose Intolerance often goes along with it. 8) There’s this great label on an increasing number of products that reads GLUTEN FREE! 9) Rice flour pizza crust tastes exactly like concrete 10) There is no decent gluten-free bread, never mind their claims. Use crackers.
The enemy broadly is named Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats (though some dispute this, why not use Quinoa?). Yeast has gluten. Hops have gluten. Baking powder, Soy and Worcheshire sauces have gluten. Most canned soups including bouillon have gluten. Stuff you always took for granted.
Rice milk and soy milk are very palatable and breakfast cereals are multiplying like bunnies. Bob’s Red Mill brand stuff has a good soda bread. They have a great pizza mix that smells yeasty. Pamela’s Baking Mix makes good wraps, great pancakes & muffins.
I don’t need gluten-free cookbooks as it is just as easy to substitute gluten free ingredients. You do need to use general purpose gluten free flour due to the stretchers in it that flours like chickpea and sorghum don’t have.
Basically you eat good plain food, no sauces, no breading. When you want something fancier, the increasing gluten-free sections of supermarkets have frozen entrees, though often way too spicey (the Indian & Mexican dishes), too fatty (the organic sausages), rather bland & chewy (the pasta dinners. Loblaws, a Canadian chain has half a freezer and two full top to bottom sections of products. Metro/A& P has breakfast cereal & half a shelf of freezer stuff. (Well, better than they USED to carry).
Gluten-free eating is IN these days at health food stores. Their freezers are full. The most dangerous food in health food stores is Tofurkey – made entirely of wheat with more wheat as a dressing. When I began I made the mistake of thinking organic had to be gluten free because much of it was. Not so. Pub food is practically off limits. Usually they give me a baked potato. I’d give a lot (and I have) to be pain free. It is good to know your enemy.
I’m learning all the time. There are long product lists on many celiac websites as well as on the manufacturer’s sites themselves. Manufacturers are getting better every day at letting us know what they’ve got. Thank heavens coconut is gluten free as I love the stuff. For a long while I’d just take out my grocery list and browse the net to see what I could eat. Now after about 5 years, I pretty well know.
The most dangerous time is when you’re out and so hungry you don’t care. Eating gluten is never worth it and milk’s almost as bad. (Can you say, ‘backdoor trots?’). You don’t want to order something, even an omelet if it’s being cooked on a grill that regularly toasts bread or breaded things like chicken or fish. You can’t always trust the waitress.
What I do is tell the waitress right off that I get really, really sick if I eat gluten. She looks bored, maybe rolls her eyes. Then I explain that I will immediately barf everything all up. (I don’t but everyone has a different reaction. This will affect her tip and someone will have to clean up and decontaminate). She immediately begins to pay attention, even going so far as to lug the huge number 10 can with the label to my table to let me read it, rather than tell me I can’t. I always tip very well so they remember me. In certain restaurants the waitress will absolutely REFUSE to let me eat something she suspects might have any trace of gluten.
I write about how eating out while celiac is going, on my blog and take pictures. All my friends seem most interested. (I’m not into the ‘poor-little-me-&-my-allergies’ syndrome at all. Everyone’s got something). I’m so grateful I know why I was sick and that it is something I can handle without meds.
I probably know lots more I haven’t said here but it’s a start. Your doctor may not believe you at first or may want you to take the inconclusive test but ultimately the proof is in the fact you aren’t continuing to come in with that pain-in-the-gut anymore.
And by the way – it works.

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