At least not to me. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (CD) 32 years ago and I HAVE to be gluten-free for life or I will die. Yes, I know that sounds harsh but sometimes the truth hurts. I cannot cheat in any way, shape, or form, nor do I want to. It’s not worth having a little frosting off the top of a wheat filled cupcake or cheese off the top of pizza to satisfy some craving. I also can’t use the mayo from a friend’s house that has been pre-dipped with a knife and been smeared on non-gluten-free bread. And as much as I appreciate someone wanting to cook me pasta in the same pan they just cooked wheat pasta in, I’ll have to kindly pass. It’s not that the good intention isn’t there, it’s that the knowledge isn’t.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea about cross-contamination when it came to being gluten-free. I knew that I had to be 100% strict ever since I learned that eating gluten could cause infertility and miscarriages. And after meeting my future husband 10 years ago at our college bookstore, and knowing he was the ONE, I wanted to get serious about this ‘diet’ stat! I realize not every significant other will be as supportive in changing what they eat as he has, and for that I am grateful, but people need to realize that for millions of us, it’s serious business. The latest statistics reports that 1 in 100 people are affected with celiac disease, so it’s not that uncommon anymore.
I’m sure you all have seen some product, recipe, or restaurant touting ‘gluten-free’ on their label or menu, and thought ‘what in the world is that!?’ Well it’s my life. Sadly, it consumes me a lot of the time, but how could it not if you think about it. Not being able to digest wheat, oats, barley, and rye is pretty frustrating when it’s in just about everything! Ever wondered about envelopes or soy sauce? Yup, they both contain gluten (wheat). Why? I have no idea but can guess that wheat is a great adhesive/thickener/etc. What gives?
And now that we are Paleo (no grains, carbs, sugar, dairy, legumes), I have really limited what I eat. While it is a choice and I can see why restaurants don’t take it seriously, it gets depressing. When we were in Phoenix for Thanksgiving, we stopped at a gluten-free restaurant in Flagstaff, and I thought I found the motherload. They made claims of gluten-free soups and bread for their sandwiches, to which I was ecstatic about. It wasn’t until I watched them prepare my sandwich on the same grill press as their gluten containing breads, that I had to speak up. I asked if they could prepare the sandwich cold instead and it wasn’t half bad (usually gluten-free bread needs heating). The bisque on the other hand…yeah, I’m pretty sure it had gluten and therefore, didn’t make me feel so hot afterwards. Boo for school. As you can imagine, it gets frustrating and depressing trying to go out to eat. Luckily they have a free app for the smart phones, called Find Me Gluten-Free, that helps when you’re in a new place but is no guarantee.
So for now, I will take preventive measures and research how they prepare their self-proclaimed ‘gluten-free’ foods. It’s probably best to call ahead if you can, to see if a restaurant is aware and is even cognizant of cross-contamination (cooking utensils, surfaces, fryers, etc). Until then, I will stay in my house and cook my gluten-free foods in my gluten-free kitchen. I guess that’s one way to save me some dough.
Do me a favor, please. If you know someone who has a gluten (or any other food) allergy and love them
like a fat kid loves cake enough to cook for them, do a little research. It gets especially trying during the holidays when there isn’t much for gluten-intolerant people to eat. Most of us tend to bring your own food (BYOF) anyway-so don’t get offended. Show that certain someone that you care and keep allergy-prone people safe during the holidays. Cheers!