The way humans consume food, is a complex situation to say the least. Over time, there have been many different schools of thought and fads when it comes to eating. From dieting to entire lifestyle changes. There are many contributing factors to how we choose to consume food, and what foods we consume. One of the latest, for numerous reasons is the gluten free diet. A lot of people believe that it is a healthy alternative to a regular gluten filled diet. Many of us though are faced with the reality that a gluten free diet is the required diet for those with Celiac disease.
The thing of it is, I don’t have Celiac disease, but my wife and six year old daughter do. Both were diagnosed when my daughter was around 18 months old. If you aren’t aware, Celiac disease is an inability to process gluten, primarily found in products containing wheat, but also found in a lot of other products as well. You may have recently noticed a lot of manufacturers marking their packaging with a “gluten free” stamp. Sadly, this is in response to the fad behavior of the gluten free diet, rather than Celiac disease. Though I’m pretty sure Kelloggs response was directly related to my fathers’ heated letter. He’s old. He writes letters.
The change was immediate, as far as their dietary needs, but there wasn’t a sweeping change through the kitchen. There are five of us in the house, and only two of us can’t come in contact with wheat or gluten. So, and I’m pretty positive this won’t elicit a positive reaction, but we have not cleared the house of wheat/gluten products five years later.
You see, we’re not dummies over here. Especially the six year old. She knows what she can and cannot eat, and up until that point everyone around her knew. Her friends know. It’s all about education. More often than not I see a child with allergies who doesn’t know anything about their allergies, even what they are allergic to. When I’m eating a peanut butter sandwich, she knows not to run up and bury her face in my plate. I also know to wash my hands before giving her a high five.
Which brings me to the kitchen and shared surfaces and utensils. Clean them. End of story. When you use the cutting board for a wheat pizza, clean it before using it for a gluten free pizza. Or, slap down some wax paper. Again, this is not rocket science yet many people believe that the only way to adapt to a Celiac in the house is for everyone to go gluten free. That’s ridiculous. For two reasons. First, I will never give up classic pasta just cause my kid can’t eat it and second, I really don’t like rice pasta.
Sitting here writing this, I asked my six year old how she takes precautions to make sure she doesn’t experience any cross contamination. She said, “crumbs.” She’s quite observant and her brothers are quite messy. The point is, while we might be primarily responsible, assigning some of the responsibility to her as well is equally as important.
One of our most oft used appliance is our Kenmore Toaster Oven. We use it to heat up and bake regular and gluten free products. In order to avoid cross contamination we simply bought a second oven rack, they are swapped and cleaned often. Though with some things, like cupcake pans, we only have one because we've learned to make gluten free cupcakes (substituting gluten free Bisquick for flour) that are just as good as regular cupcakes. Stay tuned in the future for some great gluten free recipes.
The point is, with vigilance and education, you can cook and eat in a kitchen that carries both wheat and gluten free products. While it’s reasonable that families make sacrifices for each other, it’s also reasonable to ask that I never have to actually eat rice bread again.