One of the hardest things about being Celiac is watching my friends and family struggle with it.
The people in my life are so sweet and eager to make something I can eat. The ladies in our church bible study group all have made the effort to learn what I can and cannot have and all of them go out of their way to adjust the goodies they serve.
I really don’t expect people to do that, but I embrace it as an expression of their love and am deeply touched.
I thought maybe I would share just a few tips for those of you who feel lost about what you can or cannot offer when a Celiac comes to visit!
So here’s my list of things you should know:
The basics - It is the grains Wheat, Barley and Rye that contain the gluten protein that causes the immune system of Celiacs to react by destroying the villa in the small intestine! Untreated Celiac leads to cancer, and other autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Celiacs do not have an allergy or intolerance to gluten...they have an autoimmune disease which has no cure but is totally controlled by avoided ALL gluten.
NOTE - Although oats do not have gluten, they are grown in alternating crops with wheat, so there is cross contamination. Gluten-free oats are now available made from oats grown in virgin fields. ‘Only Oats’ is one label.
1. Some Celiacs are more sensitive than others…..but it takes a very tiny amount of food with gluten in it to make them sick. So cross contamination is a very serious consideration. You would never cut a slice of gluten-free bread on a cutting board that you just used for regular bread. Wiping it isn’t good enough.. it needs to be washed with a good scrub. Some things like colanders where reg. pasta is strained, even WITH washing can have traces of gluten stuck to them. So make sure that you use utensils from the dish washer in preparing gluten-free food.
2. Celiacs appreciate fruit, vegetables, cheese - the things that are obviously gluten-free. Rice crackers are fine… (I never buy them anymore because I’m sick of them .. but that way I’m OK with eating them when I am served them at someone else’s home) Rice cakes are good used as a ‘pizza bun’ substitute.
3. I think I speak for most Celiacs that we prefer ‘real’ food to most “gluten-free” substitutes. If we still remember what real food tastes like, the substitute is at best tolerable or worse ! smile… The good news is that there are more and more better-tasting products out there making the options much more palatable.
Making your favourite dinner recipes with minor adjustments is great ! That way everyone is happy! But be sure to read the labels on all your ingredients…. Gluten can be lurking anywhere and DOES !!!
4. Be careful with gravies and sauces. Thicken them with cornstarch or sweet rice flour. There is now a new gluten-free product called 'Thicken Thin’ that is great !
5. Watch your recipes with canned soups. Almost all canned soups have gluten in them.
Soya sauce has gluten. There is a Gluten-free Soya sauce that you can buy in the USA but I have not found one in Canada. Some bullion cubes are gluten-free but not all. Spices and flavourings can have gluten. Anything with ‘malt’ flavouring is glutened – malt is made from barley - so cereals, like corn flakes or rice crispies are out. Nature Path has a gluten-free cornflakes sold in most grocery stores.
6. Gluten-free mixes are readily available now .... that allow you to make a dessert - cakes, cookies or muffins, quite easily.
I would like to encourage some of you long-time Celiacs or those of you living with Celiacs who have other helpful hints please express them in the comment section and I will transfer them (with credit to you !) to this post .. making it a resource for people nervous about having Celiacs come to visit !