Tuesday, October 22, 2013

FAQ: Gluten free edition

I get asked a lot questions about Celiac and gluten-free diets. I answered the most often asked questions below...please leave a comment if you have your own input and/or recommendations to offer!!

Does your whole family eat gluten-free?

No. However, most meals we eat as a family are naturally gluten-free. All the meat I purchase is naturally gluten-free (nothing marinaded, breaded, or pre-seasoned) and we only use gf seasonings and breadcrumbs (for breading and meatballs...a family favorite!). We eat a lot of rice and potatoes instead of pastas and breads. Obviously fruit and veggies are gluten-free so all our meals include a variety of those.

Mike and I and the older kids do eat gluten in some foods though. Charlotte has her own bread and pizza crusts, where the rest of us eat ones containing wheat flour. The older kids eat cheerios and other breakfast cereals (though when we have pancakes, I only make gf ones...the older kids don't know the difference--we like the bisquick brand) and some of their snack foods have gluten in them as well (pretzels, gold fish, etc.)

What are Charlotte's favorite gluten-free items?

When Charlotte was diagnosed with Celiac disease last October, we went crazy purchasing and trying every gluten free item we could get our hands on.

We quickly found out what a picky eater we had, and which products were good enough to make the cut. Charlotte's current favorite items are: udi's bread, udi's pizza crust, applegate gf chicken nuggets (we buy these three items by the case when they are on sale and freeze them...saves money, gf items are pricey!); she also loves her pumpkin muffins that Aunt Kate makes using glutino gf flour

Does Charlotte mind when others are eating things with gluten that she can't have?

Not usually. We try very hard to have similar items for Charlotte when she can't have what others are eating. When there is a birthday or celebration at school and they are having cupcakes or cookies, I bring in something similar. Same for family get togethers (though with Aunt Kate in the fam, there is usually a gluten-free cake at family functions :) ). At home, a lot of times we stick to ice cream for treats and celebrations, as all of our kids seem to prefer this anyway, and Charlotte can have plain ice cream with most sundae toppings (including whipped cream, her favorite). Sometimes we buy gluten-free ice cream cones as well. 

What is the hardest part of keeping Charlotte's diet free of gluten?

Hands down, eating out is the most difficult. Because of cross contamination concerns, Charlotte can not eat in restaurants. Even if there are gluten-free items on the menu, we can not be certain they are free of ALL gluten. Most restaurants have warnings that if you have celiac disease, it is not recommended you eat their gf items, as they can't not guarantee the items have not been exposed to utensils, deep fryers, and other shared surfaces with gluten. There is no picking up dinner for Charlotte, we have to make every one of her meals at home. We do keep quite a few convenience foods at home so we are able to do this quickly and bring it with us when we go out. Most Ode Ida brand fries and tater tots are gf, so we often bring those with some of her chicken nuggets if we are going out for a meal; chicken nuggets and fries are usually what the older kids are eating, so then her meal is similar.  

What happens to Charlotte if she accidentally eats something with gluten in it?

Unfortunately we found out the answer to this question a few months ago. Mike and I had a miscommunication and Charlotte ended up eating about a quarter cup of regular, wheat-filled mac and cheese. We didn't realize it until a few hours later, after Charlotte had gone to bed, when we heard her waking up, vomiting. After talking, we quickly realized what had happened. Charlotte continued to throw up for a few hours, though luckily, she felt better after that. Reactions to gluten in people with celiac disease is different in every person. Charlotte's reaction was pretty severe (a lot of people will get a stomachache and gi discomfort, but not throw up), which showed us that she will never be able to "cheat" and have something occasionally with gluten in it. 

Other celiac diesease/gluten free advice?

For Charlotte, we have had to cut gluten not only out of her diet but out of her body care products as well. Through trial and error we have found that it was extremely helpful for Charlotte's sensitive skin to change our laundry detergent, shampoo/body wash, diaper rash cream, sunscreen, and lotion to those that are certified gluten-free.  

I would love to hear from you...what are your favorite gf items? Pasta has been the hardest for us; Charlotte is not a fan of all the ones we have tried. Do you have one that you like? 

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