Celiac.com 09/01/2009 - I recently passed a milestone, upon reaching the first anniversary,
since my celiac disease diagnosis. There was no golden coin or award
ceremony, but rather a sense of personal accomplishment. Although it
is true that I feel better not eating gluten than I have in years—I
still miss my former diet every single day. I no longer crave gluten
filled meals, nor do I feel sorry for myself, as often as I did,
immediately following my diagnosis. Yet, I still find it necessary to
justify my condition whenever I get confused looks at dinner parties or
potlucks. There are also the days when I will pass a pizza shop or
have a craving for a glazed donut with my morning coffee. It is in
those moments when familiar pangs will resurface and make me long for
just an instance that I could put on my gluten shield and indulge.
was at this time last year, that I celebrated my first summer
gluten-free. I ate at only restaurants with gluten-free selections, I
began dabbling in store bought wheat-free mixes, and jumped up and down
in my kitchen the day my husband discovered a gluten-free bakery,
several towns away. Last summer was also my first opportunity to
travel gluten-free. It was during those normally carefree months that
I attended a Family Camp, at a retreat center, in the mountains.
Although I meticulously planned for the trip; packing clothing, extra
tennis shoes, swimming essentials, and toiletries—I neglected to
remember that I now had dietary limitations which would possibly have a
tremendous impact on the outcome of this family weekend. Yes, I packed
gluten-free breakfast bars and fresh fruit, but that was it. I didn’t
call ahead and ask if they had menu options for celiac sufferers, nor
did I plan for lunches and dinners.
Walking into the retreat
center dining hall among the smell of fresh baked bread, pasta salad,
and breaded chicken made my mouth water like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I
glanced around the table to see salad drizzled with vinaigrette and
realized that was all I would be eating for the day. My head began to
ache and tears stung the back of my eyes. I inwardly cursed myself for
my lack of preparation. I am the mother of three young children, the
wife of a deployed soldier, a responsible and organized woman—yet I
completely forgot to prepare for a weekend in the mountains, with
I soon learned two of my fellow campers also
suffered from gluten intolerance and was informed that there was
gluten-free bread and peanut butter, in the kitchen. I breathed a sigh
of relief as I walked up to the chef and asked him if I could possibly
have a slice of gluten-free bread. He looked at me and responded,
“sure, but this is the only loaf we have, so when it’s gone, it’s
gone.” He was completely put off by my request and irritated that
three celiacs would arrive at his retreat center, simultaneously,
forcing him into a position to alter his meals for dietary
restrictions. I grabbed the smallest slice of bread in the loaf,
ensuring that the young boy with celiac would have food to eat, and
walked out of the kitchen, in tears.
That was one year ago, and
although the date on the calendar has changed, I am still coping with
my condition and learning to travel gluten-free. My husband recently
returned from his yearlong deployment to Iraq, and decided it was time
to treat the family to a couple days of fun-filled water adventure;
with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington. It would
be an understatement to say that my children were excited—rather, they
were beyond ecstatic at the prospect of water slides, swimming pools,
and the giant bucket of water which spills and drenches everyone in its
path, every few moments.
I packed my morning gluten-free
breakfast bars, alongside of my toddler’s swim diapers, and we hit the
road, ready for an adventure at Great Wolf Lodge. As I prepared for
meals of bunless hamburgers and grilled chicken Caesar salads, minus
the croutons, my children began psyching themselves up for the thrill
of a rushing waterslide. I wasn’t sure how food allergies would be
greeted at this indoor water park, as was I nervous for a reoccurrence
of past experiences. My ultimate hope was that my Celiac Disease would
be understood and recognized for its seriousness.
The Loose Moose Cottage
the first evening of our stay, my husband suggested eating at The Loose
Moose Cottage, to partake of their dinner buffet. After being seated
in a comfortable booth, we ordered our drinks, before I perused our
selection of food for the evening. The buffet was quite organized with
a variety of offerings assembled in different ethnic sections featuring
Mexican food, Italian food, and Chinese cuisine. There was a selection
of sautéed vegetables, potatoes, and sliced roast beef; a kid’s station
with macaroni and cheese and mini corndogs, a salad bar, and a dessert
station. After preparing my children’s’ plates, I approached a chef,
as she refilled the nacho tray, and asked if the enchiladas were made
using corn or flour tortillas. She informed me that they were made
with flour before asking if there was something she could help me with.
I told her that I have celiac disease, and expected to explain to her
what that was; yet was surprised as she began walking down the
selection of foods, informing me one-by-one which were safe for me to
eat. As I kept up with her, amazed at her accommodating demeanor, she
worked all the way from the Mexican food to the salad bar. She then
walked back to the kitchen and returned with two pieces of gluten-free
grilled chicken breast. As I was thanking her, she offered to make me
gluten-free pasta. When I declined, she told me that if I would like
them to make me pasta the following day, to let the kitchen know and
they would be more than happy to prepare it for me.
review of The Loose Moose Cottage: The food was good, the service was
exceptional, and the atmosphere was accommodating for my family. The
only thing which would have made dining easier would have been if each
dish’s ingredients were listed on a sign beside the dish itself.
During our afternoon of swimming, we ventured outside where staff were
offering grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, along with potato chips and
drinks. The smell of the grill was invigorating—after several hours of
swimming, we were starving—so my husband and I decided it was time for
a power lunch. I requested a hotdog, without a bun. The chef looked
at me and asked, “Do you have celiac disease?”
I nodded my head
and said, “Yes, I do.” Then I watched with astonishment as she
immediately removed the plastic gloves she had been using, before
replacing them with new gloves, and sticking my hotdog on a clean part
of the grill. When I questioned her about her knowledge of food
allergies, and specifically celiac disease, she explained that Great
Wolf Lodge has a lot of guests with food restrictions and the chefs
make every effort to be knowledgeable and helpful.
My personal review of the Poolside Grill: The food was delicious and the staff was informed and respectful.
Bear Paw Café
The smell of
the Bear Paw Café began wafting through the air the moment I exited the
elevator. This small café is not to be taken lightly by the average
dieter, with the aroma of delicious desserts; fudge, ice cream, baked
goods and popcorn. Typically, this is an area I would avoid; however,
I decided that in order to fully assess the food selections of the
Great Wolf Lodge, it would only be fair to visit the bakery. Plus, I
really wanted a piece of fudge.
When I approached the person
at the counter and explained that I was unable to eat anything with
wheat in it and wondered if they had any gluten-free offerings, she
smiled and went to find a person more capable of assisting me. A baker
came out from the kitchen and greeted me with a smile, before telling
me that her mom has suffered from Celiac Disease for twenty-years. She
then pointed out the assortment of gluten-free fudges and offered to
make me gluten-free cookies. Although I was tempted to take her up on
the cookies, I rather, chose a piece of fudge. I can say, without a
doubt—it was delicious.
My personal review of the Bear Paw Café:
The fudge was delicious and the service was exceptional. I do wish
there was more of a variety of baked goods for those with food
allergies; such as wheat, peanut, and egg-free ingredients.
our final meal at the Great Wolf Lodge, we ate at the Camp Critter
restaurant. After a day of swimming, we were all completely famished
and felt at home in the warm atmosphere of this sit down restaurant.
The menu had a variety of kids’ meal offerings, as well as adult
selections ranging from burgers, to salads, to steaks. I was once
again met with a server who was knowledgeable and sympathetic to my
dietary restrictions. I asked for a cheeseburger, without a bun, and
when it was delivered, I was informed that my fries were made in
separate oil, to avoid cross contamination. What can I say; it was
All-American dining, and my entire family enjoyed it.
personal review of Camp Critter: Although the menu did not have a
variety of gluten-free selections; the food I chose was prepared
gluten-free, cooked well, and the staff was accommodating and helpful.
After two fun-filled days of water bliss at the Great Wolf Lodge, we
departed for home, exhausted, and with chlorine seeping out of our
swimming suits. I rate our trip 5 of 5 stars—it was a great get-away,
and I didn’t feel hindered by my celiac disease. And on a side note…my
kids thought the water park was amazing.