In my opinion and from my experiences, I have found that eating out at perhaps more "up-scale" restaurants seems to be a safer bet vs. faster food or even take out. I don't mean this to sound "snobby" in any way, shape, or form, but it seems that higher-end restaurants want to get it right and take more care with their meal preparation—now, I realize that this is by no means a 100% guarantee for eating safely just because you are paying more for your food, but from my experiences I have found that wait staff and chefs seem to be much more educated when it comes to eating gluten-free, under these circumstances.
With that said, the two Italian restaurants that I visited in Denver, one for a lovely dinner with my brother and the other for a late lunch/dinner, were both terrific. Truly, one of the highlights of this week's business trip to Denver was discovering the restaurant Panzano, in downtown Denver on 17th Street. At first I was a bit alarmed with the limited "bar menu" we had to choose from given the time of day, but I quickly learned that our server was very educated on eating gluten-free. He guided me through the menu and went out of his way to create a gluten-free Caesar salad, and wonderful antipasti plate that was fabulous, but the best part of the experience was when our server asked if I would like my own basket of gluten-free focaccia bread! Uhhh, "what did you say?" I replied...I continued, "Are you SURE it's gluten-free and safe"...he responded "Yes, it is" and they do all the fresh gluten-free baking every day in their bakery that's designated for celiacs and not contaminated. In that case I said, "PLEASE bring me some bread! And wow, was it delicious—I ordered two plates!
The other restaurant that I visited was in the downtown Theatre District, called Prima Ristorante. It was also very enjoyable, sans the focaccia bread! The restaurant is tucked inside the lovely Hotel Teatro on 14th Street and is well worth the visit, especially if you are looking for a safe and enjoyable dining experience. I had ordered a wonderful asparagus appetizer and a salmon entree that they specially prepared for me in a separate, gluten-free pan. Our European waitress was very aware and double-checked everything I put in my mouth, including reviewing every ingredient in the homemade sorbets that they serve. I felt very well taken care of, and therefore was able to fully enjoy a rare dinner with just my brother and me.
The next time any of you are in Denver, I encourage you to visit either or both of these great restaurants and enjoy all the delicious choices offered and care given to you during your meal.
Enjoy and safe travels!
- By Ali Demeritte
- Published 10/24/2008
With the holidays looming on the horizon, invitations to highly-anticipated dinner gatherings are arranged. I usually dreaded any environment involving food because, much to my dismay, the buffet tables arrayed with decadent dishes and gluttonous enticements are all gluten laden, and I realize I cannot even consume a morsel, and I’m ravenous! So, how do I avoid the drama of starvation or anti-socially concealing myself in a corner sipping water? I follow two guidelines to assure a pleasant social experience.
Call the host in advance. Explain in simple terms your dietary restrictions. And when I mean simple, don’t verbally vomit medical terms and intimate, symptomatic details, but specifically list foods that you can and cannot eat. Even if the host appears to comprehend your situation, don’t expect them to accommodate or fully understand you. So then...
BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish): After my explanation, I always offer to bring my own food to relieve the cook from added labor (and to guarantee that my food isn’t cross-contaminated in spite of the cook’s good intentions). Yes, as I consume my "special dish" while others inhale turkey with stuffing, I may receive inquisitive stares and be bombarded with personal questions, but, as my husband says, it is what it is. At least I’m not dealing with a low-blood sugar episode!
After explaining to a friend the prescribed action for celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance—a lifetime avoidance of gluten from wheat, barley and rye—I am often met with the sympathetic reply, “that must be really difficult.”
As someone living with severe gluten sensitivity, I know that most days it’s not so bad, and only occasionally do I rush starving into a convenience store voracious, in search of any allowable snack. Though ultimately, I, like most would still argue that living without gluten is much easier than living with it and all of its awful effects.
IBS, constipation, gas, bloating, brain-fog, acne, rosacea, dermatitis herpetiformis are all symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. So is it easier to treat, accept and mask any one, or even all of these afflictions or to shop specifically for gluten free foods, cook more meals at home, order off the menu and read food and cosmetic labels?
Of course, I do occasionally long for the days when a lazy Friday evening dinner required no more than dialing up a pizza company. But when I recall my life before going gluten free, the days during which I was 10 pounds heavier, fighting off unexplained acne breakouts, brain-fog and other digestive troubles, all of which required multiple medications and treatments, I can easily reply, “It’s really not so bad.”
- By Wendy Cohan
- Published 10/7/2008
I posted the article, "When Mistakes Happen, Focus on Comfort", with the best of intentions, but the feedback has been pretty controversial, taking me completely by surprise. Obviously these recommendations are not going to help everyone. Anyone who knows anything about Celiac Disease knows that the array of possible symptoms varies tremendously. I am also unhappy that people seem to be trying to one-up each other on the misery scale, and that needs to stop, please. We should all be trying to help and support each other, and part of that is to validate each person's suffering. There are ways to decrease one's extreme sensitivity to things that offend our immune system. Integrated Manual Therapy (IMT) is one that I hope people with severe gluten intolerance will try to explore, as I personally have received tremendous benefit from this therapy.
I was always the person at a restaurant who ordered with what I like to call "flair." I realize the server dreaded people like me; those who never order what is on the menu, but rather a variation of it. I was never the kid who longed for the burger with the special sauce, or the pickles, or the onions, or even ketchup with my French fries. I was the one who asked for no mayonnaise, sauces on the side, and hold any condiments that are runny or fragrant in any way.
Yes, I was a child who adults would refer to as "picky." I was the daughter who refused to eat meatloaf because of the way my Mom mashed it together with her hands. The dinner date that chose to pass on the salad because mayonnaise-based dressings were as unappetizing as the venison my Dad hunted in the mountains. Over the years I became adept at specifying how I wanted my meals cooked at restaurants, and sending it back when it was wrong. This is why I’ve thought that Karma has come back to haunt me. Many times, I even resorted to telling restaurant employees that I was allergic to mayonnaise, so that they would give me a new bun rather than just scraping off the original. I am not proud of my fib, yet it did prepare me for life with Celiac Disease. Anyone with gluten intolerance who has eaten at a restaurant, either by themselves or with a child or a spouse, has received a blank stare when they alert servers that they are allergic to gluten. I call it, “the deer in the headlights look”—it is that confused wide-eyed gaze that is occasionally followed by, “What?”
My immediate response is to inform them that I am unable to eat wheat, and cannot have anything with it touch my plate, or be cross-contaminated by it, on any cooking surface. I have sent salads back when a stray crouton has been found next to my sliced tomatoes. I’ve been chuckled at by teenagers who are unaware of how serious my condition is, and whose immediate response to something they don’t know is confused giggling. I have left a dinner party starving because the only item that was gluten-free was the carrot sticks. Like I said, it just might be Karma, coming back to haunt me.
Who would have thought that one day I would be wishing for just one of those hamburger buns that made my stomach churn upon seeing it slathered with ketchup? I never dreamed the day would arrive when I would be a difficult diner out of necessity, rather than motivated by sheer dislikes. I am now the woman who has to ensure that her French fries are not cooked in the same oil as breaded products, a traveler who carries along her own toaster so that her frozen waffles can be toasted without intestine-sacrificing bread crumbs...a mom who tells her children that they should try each thing on their plate, just because they are able to.
What have I learned since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease? Primarily, that eating is just plain difficult, and there is absolutely no way to get around the added worry, cost, and inconvenience of gluten intolerance. Yes, it is easier and more reassuring to eat at home where I can control exactly what foods I am consuming, but is that always feasible? With children in after-school activities, there are nights when we are forced to eat on the run. When we travel there are times that we must eat at restaurants. Then there are the evenings when my husband and I are lucky enough to hire a babysitter and go out for a nice dinner and have our meal prepared and our dishes cleaned for us.
Before eating out, I go online and do research, to ensure that I am only eating gluten-free foods. We choose restaurants where there is a specified gluten-free menu, which oftentimes is limited to a very few number of selections. When cooking at home, I attempt to stick to the basics; consuming primarily meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. I praise whole food markets and grocery chains who have embraced a greater understanding of food intolerance and allergies, and offer alternative ingredients for cooking. Likewise, I have also found that by shopping gluten-free, I can easily double our family’s grocery bill for the month.
Do I really believe that Karma has come back to haunt me? No, not really. With the number of young children diagnosed with Celiac Disease, combined with all of the non-picky eaters out there, I suppose it is just a case of genetics, along with bad luck. I do look forward to the day when there will be more stores carrying gluten-free choices. As awareness increases, so do the chances of eating at a restaurant, and having an unlimited amount of dishes to choose from, as well as staff trained on food intolerance issues. I long for a day when a bag of gluten-free flour does not cost four times that of its wheat counterpart. When that day arrives, I know, Karma or not, that we have made it.
- By Wendy Cohan
- Published 09/22/2008
I am a highly intuitive person, and I often used my intuitive abilities as a nurse on a busy surgical floor. When my inner wisdom told me what was going on with a patient, I never failed to listen, and advocate for what I felt was in the patient's best interest. But, I'm not in that environment anymore, and John Q. Public is not one of my patients. Still, sometimes I feel as if I ought to say something. Do you think it is ever appropriate to do so? Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease are still not part of the common vocabulary. The people I counsel and that take my cooking classes have all navigated long, circuitous paths to finally get a diagnosis. How great it would be to help steer someone in the right direction, maybe skipping years of frustration and ill health! But, I am by nature a reserved person, brought up to respect the privacy of others. Is there a graceful way to intervene and provide information on gluten sensitivity to relative strangers? That is the question I pose, and I look forward to reading any responses.
- By Kristen Campbell
- Published 09/18/2008
My last visit to the salon left my hair dresser quite concerned. While combing out my wet hair for cutting, she noticed that several small red bumps had just popped up on the back of my scalp. The rash-like bumps were not there before my shampoo, which to me made perfect sense: gluten in the shampoo. But to her, was a new concept: sensitivities to hair products.
I did a quick investigation by recapping the ingredients in the shampoo and conditioner, and my suspicions were confirmed: these products contained gluten. Since going gluten-free late last year, I did begin to find that gluten containing shampoos and hair products caused small breakouts or red bumps along my hairline. And as stated by Dr. Kenneth Fine of EnteroLab: “Gluten sensitivity is a systemic immune reaction to gluten anywhere in the body.” Which means that my scalp is just as likely to react to gluten as my tummy.
Fortunately, the bumps disappeared a few hours later, after I had re-washed my hair with gluten-free products. Though the whole incident has me wondering; will those with gluten sensitivities have to start approaching a salon or cosmetics counter just as we would a food menu. Fortunately, more restaurants than not these days seem aware of food allergies and sensitivities. But educating our hair stylists and make-up artists will be a whole other challenge.
I have actually been able to find some amazingly effective, pure and gluten-free topical products to help maintain a gluten-free lifestyle inside and out. I suppose that those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities will spread the word on topical gluten one hair stylist and make-up artist at a time, just as the word was spread to one chef or waiter at a time. And yes, the next time I visit the salon, I just may bring my own shampoo.
- By Kristen Campbell
- Published 09/15/2008
I did notice that gluten-containing shampoos and conditioners tended to cause breakouts around my hairline, but still I thought that for gluten to adversely affect me, it probably had to be eaten and pass through my digestive tract. In the many gluten-free books I read, I found mention of gluten in the diet causing acne, rosacea, rashes, eczema, dermatitis herpetiformis.
Chronic dermatitis characterized by eruption of itching papules, vesicles, and lesions resembling hives typically in clusters, which is caused by gluten sensitivity, dermatitis herpetiformis, psoriasis, but nothing spoke of the effect of topical products containing gluten.
So I consulted the renowned Dr. Fine, creator of EnteroLab.com, whose site has helped scores of patients in accurately diagnosing food sensitivities such as gluten, cow’s milk, eggs and dietary yeast intolerances. Here is what he had to say:
Gluten sensitivity is a systemic immune reaction to gluten anywhere in the body, not just that entering the body via the gut. Therefore, topically applied lotions, creams, shampoos, etc. containing gluten would indeed provide a source of gluten to the body, and we therefore recommend all such products be discontinued for optimal health.Considering that up to 60% of a product applied to the skin can be absorbed into the bloodstream, applying a product that I know contains gluten is a risk I am simply not willing to take.
Psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis herpetiformis are the most classically associated, but many non-specific skin symptoms appear as well.
- By Wendy Cohan
- Published 09/15/2008
Then on Thursday, Sept. 11th, I had my second gig at the Multnomah Village Farmer's Market. What a different vibe! It's a much smaller, less crowded, more laid-back place, and I followed my teenage son's advice. Don't talk, don't lecture, just start offering people free food, and when they come up to watch it being made, you can talk to them then. So, I made Thai salad rolls with both peanut sauce, and one made with almond butter. It was quick, easy, and people loved them. Soon I had quite a crowd gathered round, asking questions, talking about how good it felt to eat something cool, crunchy, and flavorful on a hot evening, and all the people they knew who might benefit from a gluten-free diet. I ended up signing up someone for my baking class next week, and inspired someone else to get tested for gluten-intolerance/celiac disease, and many people thanked me for being there. I'll repeat the event Sunday in Hillsdale, and I'll have copies of my newest version of my guidebook, "Gluten-Free PORTLAND' available to buy. They can also be bought on my website now, since I set up the PayPal button.
I am starting to feel for the first time that I'm making headway in my quest to be a full-time Celiac Disease/Gluten Intolerance Educator, and I truly love my work. I'm also amazed at all the networking involved, and so thankful for all the people who have helped me make valuable connections.
I'll post new developments as they occur, and on my website too, under "classes & events".
The Best in Health,
I'll keep you posted...
Seriously, I thought. “Are you absolutely certain?” I asked. Which I promptly followed with, “But how?”
Although I was reeling with outward shock to the physician, I was not really surprise by the outcome, based on the fact that I had asked for the blood test. No, I had practically begged for it- even exaggerating symptoms of severe gastrointestinal upset that should never be mentioned in a public place.
The doctor smiled and said, “Well you have tested positive for Celiac Disease, so you need to not eat gluten for the rest of your life.”
For the rest of my life. I thought. “Okay, so gluten is wheat, right?”
“Yes, and barley and rye. Here, let me print out some information for you on resources you can find on the Internet. There are some support groups and a list of what foods you should stay away from.”
For the rest of my life. “So this is not something I will just get over one day?”
“No. Once you have the disease, you will always have it.”
After leaving the doctor’s office, I sat in my car and began to make a list of all of the foods that I would no longer be allowed to eat. Ironically enough, this was two days before Thanksgiving and I was so not thankful that I would never be able to eat my Mom’s stuffing again. As the list of forbidden foods grew longer, I began to think back of the signs I had over the years- little things I may have miss that would have told me that maybe all of my favorite foods were literally poisoning me.
Stomach aches- Is it abnormal to go to bed several nights a week with a stomach ache? I’d had them for so many years that they became normal and expected.
Tooth Discoloration- Why is it that I had staining on my teeth as a child (thank goodness for modern day bleaching) that no dentist could find a reason for other than “they just appeared” or “maybe you hit yourself really hard in the mouth once.”
Canker Sores/Mouth Ulcers- More severe during times of stress, college finals and my husband’s deployment to Iraq, they would oftentimes become the size of a pencil eraser head. Ironically, they usually deterred me from eating gluten because they hurt worse when I did. I saw a pamphlet at the dentist’s office once that said mouth sores could be due to a wheat allergy. I shrugged and thought, That is definitely not me.
Recurrent Miscarriages- too painful to go into detail, but a potential link.
Anemia, chronic fatigue, weakened immune system- all symptoms that I suffered for years and mistook for something else. I had every excuse in the book for my problems, and chose to ignore what was obviously right in front of me.
Yet, I was beginning to think that maybe there was a link between my health ailments and Celiac Disease. Still attempting to forgo a lifelong abstinence from gluten, I scheduled a consult with a Gastroenterologist, knowing that if I was going to be passing on the pizza at my kids' soccer parties, there had better be a good reason for it. I should mention that I did give up gluten immediately after leaving the doctor’s office on that November day. For dinner that night, I ate yogurt.
The Gastroenterologist, who is one of the nicest doctors I have ever had the pleasure of working with, ordered an upper endoscopy, to biopsy my stomach and small intestine. He also told me that in order for the test to be accurate I would need to have consumed gluten for at least two weeks prior.
“So I get to eat gluten again?” Like I said, he was a great doctor, and he was telling me exactly what I wanted to hear.
For the next two weeks, I took my husband and children to every restaurant that I loved. I ate spaghetti, pizza, hamburgers, sweet and sour chicken, donuts, cake, cookies, sandwiches, consuming basically everything that was on the “forbidden” list of foods. It was glorious, and I will always remember my fourteen days of blissful gluten gluttony.
Of course I developed a respiratory infection, lost my voice for a week, and felt terrible the entire two weeks, but at least I was well fed. So- when the nice doctor told me that my biopsy did prove I had Celiac Disease, I did not argue with him, or cry, or storm out of the office in despair. I picked myself up out of the chair and realized that it was time to make a change.
Looking back at all of my years with undiagnosed Celiac Disease, I think of all of the ironies that were present in my life. There were the meals when my track coach said to carb-load before the big race and I would do just that. Chucking the impending stomach aches off as nerves, I could never understand why I felt so sluggish and sick on race day. There were the Monday mornings in college that I would come down with a cold after a weekend of fast food and pitchers of beer at the local off-campus bar with my friends. There were the afternoons when I could not keep my eyes open after eating a “healthy” whole wheat sandwich for lunch.
I also look back upon my jobs in high school and college- working in a fast food restaurant, serving donuts and slicing bread in a bakery, and as a waitress in an Italian restaurant. It is too ironic- yeah, I really do think.
I wanted to express my sincere gratitude to so many of you who posted comments both on this site and my blog, leaving behind words of encouragement, support and many, many useful tips/products that I was scribbling down and running to the health food store to find. I am truly grateful for knowing that you are all out there...somewhere, and filled with great empathy for others. I am also taken a back by the stories of great struggle I have received from many Celiacs and undiagnosed folks, as well. It's so hard to believe that in this day and age, Celiac Disease can still wreak such havoc with so many and can go undiagnosed for so many years, leading to major health issues that go above and beyond the small intestine's villi.
I encourage any and all of you out there who are struggling with stomach issues of any kind, to impress upon your doctors the great importance of being tested for Celiac Disease...and if they appear to be non-responsive with a glazed look in their eyes, PUSH the issue. We must be advocates of our own bodies and health. Educate the doctors, if need be, but don't let your issues be dismissed. Given the vast number of unknowing Celiacs just waiting for a diagnosis, I pray we will reach a point in the very near future when this disease will receive the necessary attention it's so deserving of.
In the meantime, here's to all of you terrific and AWARE Celiacs out there, sharing your helpful bits of information and support, while educating all those who cross your path.
Here's to all of you!
but I know that living without them takes a knack.
The term “allergy” doesn’t really apply
when my immune system begins its attack.
I can get sensitive to other foods—so sly
are my body’s defenses when they’re out of whack!
I am, or have celiac (Greek for abdomen)—
no allergy but an autoimmune disease,
such that I cannot eat a type of gluten.
So on my order, hold what’s macro-processed, please!
Or better yet, I’ll bring my meal from the kitchen,
my haven from the restaurants—those minefields—
amid the big-box grocery stores, my oasis.
The power of that on which I dine wields
an early grave or healthy homeostasis!
Shall I continue down an awful rut
of cancer, leaky gut, and osteoporosis?
Or shall I eat with respect for my upper gut?
No, I don’t want to risk gastrointestinal pains
or the effects of further malnutrition
upon ingesting gluten from those three grains!
I’ll miss Mom’s cooking, but I’m firm in this position.
For, when such gluten—which is called gliadin,
protein complexes in wheat, barley, and rye—
has passed the stomach into the small intestine,
my immune system reacts in ways that defy
the understanding of modern medicine:
destroying the digestive folds, called villi,
with endomysial antibodies.
And this destruction, the body’s self-attack,
is different from all wheat allergies,
or enteropathy, or sacroiliac.
Now, as for starches, I can eat rice, wild rice, corn,
buckwheat, sorghum, mesquite,
teff, arrowroot, and tapioca; but neither einkorn,
malt, (sprouted) barley, rye, nor wheat.
I can eat quinoa, millet, montina,
flax, and amaranth; but neither spelt, orzo,
durhum, udon, couscous, matzo, kamut, farina,
seitan, emmer, semolina, nor farro.
And, I may or may not be able to eat oats;
if I am, they must not be cross contaminated
by nearby wheat, whence gliadin floats.
My oats must be carefully sourced and crated.
Attacks can also happen on the other systems
of my body—that’s quite unlike most allergies!
And, Celiac has over 200 symptoms;
someday I will collect as many recipes.
I may be any age and either male or female.
When diagnosed, I was a child—if by the textbook!
I may be very plump or as thin as a rail;
in either case, I don’t wish to attract the next look.
Or I may appear just like any other person,
and even be unaware that I have this disease
until its symptoms have already worsened—
its complications brought me to my knees!
Or I may not even have a single symptom,
except a slight anemia, perhaps.
Americans have shown a lack of wisdom:
Three million undiagnosed cases—walking death-traps!
In the United States, it takes eleven
years to rule out or diagnose this malady.
But this determination is made by age seven,
had you been born and raised in Italy.
I know that for most folks, the term “gliadin”
is neither on their minds nor their vocabulary.
It doesn’t pose as great a danger as bin Laden,
controlled by a well-funded constabulary.
Americans—three million of them—face a threat
unknown to almost all of them—that’s scary—
until they’ve had the screening they should get.
Get screened if you have chronic diarrhea
or other symptoms showing malabsorption;
if for lack of iron, you have anemia;
if you have got abdominal distention;
or if you’ve lost weight by the classic formula—
though weight gain’s a possibility with distinction!
Get screened if your stature’s on the shorter side;
if for you, puberty was or is delayed;
if a woman who’s given babies shortened rides,
and if your efforts to conceive are unrepaid.
Get screened if you have persistent cold sores;
if you have irritable bowel syndrome;
if even passing by wheat agriculture
excites your respiratory symptoms;
if, in your relationship with your body,
the autoimmune system does all the talking;
if you sense pin-pricks in your extremities;
if you have trouble keeping balance while walking;
and if enamel’s missing from your teeth.
A screening may show that Celiac was mocking
another ailment, while present underneath.
Gliadins, as any gluten, are gummy
and may be stretched or otherwise compressed.
Gliadins, after passing through my tummy,
rob me of my ability to digest.
Those barley, wheat, and rye crumbs make me feel just crummy.
Gliadins make the wheat-dough pliable
and able to contain the air injected into it—
almost as elastic and viable
as I’ve become adopting a gluten-free diet!
Yeah, so much “gluten” talk is deniable,
injecting me, too, with hot air—but I don’t buy it!
My body’s fickle needs are modifiable;
so if a food is clearly gluten-free, I’ll try it.
While gluten has neither odor nor color,
in processed foods it is ubiquitous, eclectic.
Along the edge of cold cuts, it’s a filler
of the mold—just so it looks symmetric!
It’s added in proportions just to texturize;
that foods once had wrong textures would not surprise me!
And in a liquid food, it’s used to stabilize—
perhaps that’s so, but gluten doesn’t stabilize me!
The additive is fine when micronized as wheat dust,
but not so fine by me when it is used by
most food makers, in whom I don’t place complete trust.
(A grumpy celiac, you’d rather not be accused by!)
I’m watching every label and each calorie—
avoiding gluten as I make my own sweet crust.
I’m tending to my dietary needs as carefully
as anyone who likes or needs to eat must.
But I am challenged to watch what I cannot see!
So no immune reaction’s set in motion
by going off my diet, I’ve had to learn the ropes.
I want to shop safely for my toothpaste and lotion,
and I cannot lick stamps or envelopes.
Wheat dust—since it has an airy, elastic feel—
prevents the oils in dried herbs and spices from clumping.
A substitute is xanthan gum with flaxseed meal
or eggs whenever I am baking something.
And, gluten’s also used to thicken many sauces
and condiments—tell that to other people
who fail to understand what all the fuss is!
(Sit back and watch them dig themselves into a deep hole.)
While to the senses it’s hardly detectable,
the additive is popular. What’s stranger is
it doesn’t make food more or less delectable
except to me—to whom gliadins are dangerous,
yes, even in the tiniest amount!
It’s also added to food for the change there is
on the label showing you the protein count.
Please share how versatile an additive it is
with someone who doesn’t understand
a gluten-free diet can pose a challenge,
and that I’m safer buying food of certain brands;
and keeping all my nutrients in balance.
While others went out to eat, I sat home by the stove.
In January, I’d longed for crust and crumb.
So I went shopping for Bob’s Red Mill and Maple Grove
and invested in a bag of xanthan gum.
A teaspoon of the gum, of Rumford baking soda;
corn and potato starches, one half cup of each;
and just a quarter cup of corn meal—I showed a
knack in both gluten-free action and speech.
In February, I made my first flour mix
of rice and tapioca—three parts each;
and one part corn starch; and I’ve learned some tricks,
but baking pastry’s still beyond my reach!
I once looked in the mirror, and my tongue was crimson:
For iron, I eat beans, clams, or a peach.
Everyday, I eat a few nuts or seeds with raisins;
and every week, one or two servings of spinach.
If packaged, boxed, or canned, it’s processed food;
whatever brand, that it be gluten-free is urgent!
Al Fresco’s sweet Italian sausage suits my mood;
polenta, San Gennaro or Food Merchant.
Or I’ll eat franks by Shelton’s, Trader Joe’s,
H. N., Whole Ranch, Wellshire, or Cantella’s;
boil one; warm the corn or rice tortilla that I chose;
and wrap it up with minced onion and red-leaf lettuce.
Unless a vegiac, I eat fresh meat; for I’ve become
a carnivore who trusts the butcher’s hand
for meat that’s processed at a minimum,
that’s labeled, or that has a gluten-free brand.
For meat, water, and salt, I’ll buy Tyson chicken.
Pacific, Shelton’s, Trader Joe’s, or Wolfgang Puck’s—
beware of other meat broths gluten’s used to thicken,
regardless if they’re premium or deluxe!
My strength’s returned as I have gotten nourished;
I’m vigilant for vitamins and minerals.
I’m gluten-free, my protein sources have flourished,
and so I’m feeling well in general.
My dietician cares that this transition succeeds;
and monitors my nutritional uptake,
ensuring that my diet meets my body’s needs.
Meanwhile, I’ve made my first gluten-free cupcake,
and I am getting out more nowadays.
But for millenia, the Natives cultivated Quinoa;
today I also eat grains like Montina
that just amazes me; and have seen wha-
t the Quinoa Corporation makes in Gardena.
Imbibing Native lore in Nu-World Amaranth
I feel so grateful for Manna from Anna;
attuned to Nature’s Highlights and to Nature’s Path;
and have been caught eating cookies by Nana’s.
Perhaps tonight in my kitchen, I will fix
a dish of Tinkyada or Trader Joe’s brown-rice penne.
Vermicelli, maifun, and Thai sticks—
like all rice pasta—are cooked al dente.
Some days, I have a salad at Subway—
a place where I can be safe from gluten attacks.On other days, I check in with Chick-Fil-A
where it’s also possible to eat and relax.
At In-N-Out, I’ll order up a hamburger
in protein style (wrapped in lettuce instead),
raw onion, and French fries; I then watch that the servers
do not touch or tangle my order with their bread.
Or for a big night out, I go to P. F. Chang’s
and order off the gluten-free menu,
Chinese food in which I can safely sink my fangs
to please my palate, stomach, and my every sinew!
I won’t be able to go out again—or will I?
I will if I may go to Outback Steakhouse
because I know I’ll spare my precious villi.
The baked potato at Wendy’s, I douse
with a cup of Wendy’s old-fashioned chili—
last time I checked on line, it’s free of gluten!
Whoever’s heard of my disease won’t think it silly
that with my salad, I can’t eat a single crouton.
The mental fog dispelled, my thoughts are clearer;
I plan my travels with help from Bob and Ruth.
I get up every morning, look in the mirror,
and see the gleaming white enamel on each tooth!
Together, we can struggle, learn, and grow,
grow healthy, grasping the Enteric Truth.
To celiacs in whom I see someone I know,
I give encouragement at meetings of our chapter.
I’ll swoop down to the nearest El Pollo Loco
for plain, roasted chicken and, like a raptor,
devour it with veggies and plain pinto beans.
Whatever nutrients my body’s searching after,
I can derive some comfort from my new routines.
I eat red palm oil and produce that’s yellow
or orange to get my vitamin A—
lest night blindness make me injure some other fellow!
As an adult, I need 900 micrograms per day.
I eat brown rice or some whole grains, potatoes,
nuts, meats, or legumes for 1.2 milligrams
per day of thiamine, lest I feel pins and needles
on my feet; for I like the way I am!
On my lips and mouth, I don’t like fissures or scales,
which are signs of unhealthy mucous membranes.
Therefore, everyday, I eat enriched cereal
for my 1.5 micrograms of riboflavin.
I eat whole grains, legumes, or fish
for 2 milligrams of B-6 per day, lest my nerves or skin
sustain disorders or anemia I don’t wish.
For 2 micrograms of B-12, cobalamin,
I eat meats, eggs, or milk, or take a supplement
so that my red blood cells fully develop—
lest I should go into a steep descent,
the red blood cells within my body swell up
(and if a woman, lose my shapely curves),
my hands and feet tingle, little acid in my stomach,
look pale, feel weak, and suffer damaged nerves!
Alongside B-12, folate makes red blood cells.
Therefore, everyday I eat raw, leafy veggies
and fresh fruits, hoping to absorb the folate well.
My folate’s in fresh fruit, especially strawberries.
A vegiac may take a B-12 supplement.
I also eat dark leafies for A, C, K-1,
and E—alpha-tocopherol, an antioxidant
ensuring that the battle for my health is won!
And, lest my bones grow thin, I eat potatoes, cabbage,
and citrus fruit for 60 milligrams of C;
one gram of calcium in beans, fruits, and kale (roughage);
sweet almonds and sunlight for 10 micrograms of D;
legumes and nuts for 0.9 grams of phosphorus;
greens, nuts, grains, and legumes, 2 milligrams of copper.
Except for vegiacs, seafood is good for us;
as are nuts with magnesium—0.3 grams is proper.
And, seafood—if I choose to eat it—will supply
my 2 milligrams of B-6, pyridoxine;
fifteen of zinc, lest I should lack digestive enzymes;
to stabilize my thyroid’s energy, some iodine
(150 micrograms). Magnesium’s
responsible for healthy nerve function
and bone formation with minerals and calcium—
macro- and micro-nutrients wrought in conjunction!
The food I eat is only as hard to find as my genes,
but seldom does my food come with big names or cans.
My vermicelli’s made of either rice or mung beans;
my waffles, Lifestream, Trader Joe’s or Van’s.
My macaroni’s made of corn, rice, sorghum or quinoa.
And my tortillas?—They are made of corn or rice. I read the ingredients for gluten incognita
in maltodextrin, flavoring, or spice.
My carbonated soft drinks are translucent—
365 or Hansen’s makes as big a splash!
It’s not as dreadful as is getting glutened;
while traveling, I carry GF food in stash.
Becoming gluten-free was like full-time employment;
some people cared, while others could be brash.
My life’s progressed, but it’s not all enjoyment.
This shopping gluten-free leaves me short on cash,
so that I can’t afford the Dapsone ointment
that I could use to treat my DH rash.
In the long course of human evolution,
I am a victim of the Agriculture Clash.
My atavistic gut and I got glutened—
those food preparers’ sloppy, careless tricks!
I’ll head back to the haven, my own kitchen;
and learn how to make another flour mix.
Did my genes know about my upper gut since birth?
Am I an evolutionary oddity?
A loving God might have put me on the Earth,
but I still have to care for my own body.
If I had some other disease that people had heard about—
and one they’d not dismiss as a wheat allergy—
they wouldn’t hear my cry of anguish as a pout
because I have to choose food that is gluten-free;
nor think I overeat if I am stout,
or am bulimic if my build is slighter.
Each individual has unique views,
but every celiac has felt like an outsider,
and wondered—reading lists for clues—
if “vinegar” was pure-distilled or apple cider!
Those other people could begin to listen
to my concerns about related diseases
with whose symptoms my body seems to threaten
in such mysterious ways as it pleases.
If other people—non-celiacs—would care more,
I wouldn’t wonder if I’m being selfish.
(Perhaps Enjoy Life cares too much; before I pour,
did anyone suspect a cereal had “shellfish”?1)
If—God forbid—I were knocking on death’s door,
more people would remind me where the B-12 is;
and wouldn’t mistake my sense of confusion
for self-neglecting irresponsibility.
Nor would they overlook the obvious conclusion
that Celiac brings regular uncertainty,
as any cryptic, autoimmune disease.
Not just allergic to the Gliadin-laden Three,
I wish they’d formulate stronger hypotheses!
I’d also ask the U.S. government
for research, education, and lives to increase,
despite this epidemic’s one percent.
To nourish healthy lives instead of cancer is why
three million people should go gluten-free;
they’ll do so, hopefully before I’ve mastered my
technique of baking fruit-filled pastry!
1) According to the side panel of the carton of Enjoy Life’s Very Berry Crunch Granola (good with warm milk or water, btw), it's a breakfast cereal that contains neither wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, nor shellfish. Who would have thought a breakfast cereal would have any shellfish in it? When in doubt, leave it out—now that's what I say!
2 Large cans gluten-free artichoke hearts, drained
8 baby carrots, sliced lengthwise
10 asparagus stalks previously steamed until bright green and tender crisp
1 medium tomato
½ yellow or red bell pepper
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
4-6 oz. feta cheese
4 tablespoons fresh grated Romano (or Parmesan) cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves fresh pressed garlic
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
Fresh ground black pepper
Chop the artichokes into medium bowl. Cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces and add to the artichokes. Cut up other vegetables into medium pieces and add to mixture tossing carefully. Pour on dressing mixture and add Romano. Gently stir in Feta cheese just before serving.
Food, food, food. The one thing I realize since being diagnosed with celiac disease, is how much time was not spent on food before. I must spend half of my recent waking hours thinking about what to eat. I have told myself that I am trying too hard and that all I need to do is convert my pantry to gluten free and stay with fresh, whole foods. Easy right? This has however, not been the case. It seems that at least once a week I am mistakingly adding some ingredient that I cannot eat. Tonight, Mexican night. Refried Pinto beans are in order. Simple right? Well, I had the great idea that I should boil them with ham. I open the freezer, eureka, ham bone! Not thinking I throw it in the pot with the beans...then it dawned on me...when did we have ham?? Oh no, it was not gluten-free, It was given to us as a gift from a ham store. I called the store and sure enough they put wheat in their spice (but the ham is gluten-free). WHY?? I wish more chain stores would get on board and stop adding allergens to their foods. I hope we can all enjoy eating out some day without worry or if not, at least be able to cook at home without poisoning ourselves.
I am a super-diligent gluten-free eater and am constantly researching new products, stores, and restaurants that are safe, etc. - so to have been caught so off guard this time around, is really disappointing. Here's what happened and I hope my warning can help some of you avoid repeating my harmful mistake.
I was at the opening of the new Whole Foods in Reno, NV and was so caught up in the excitement of the Gluten-Free frozen baked goods department and all the rows of new gluten-free products, that I believe I let my guard down a bit. In my excitement, I headed to the "prepared foods" section instead of my usual salad bar trip, hoping to find something warm and tasty at the Taco Bar. I managed to order some plain, cubed chicken, sautéed veggies and a small scoop of their delicious mashed potatoes. I was just about to be in the clear when I went back and asked for a scoop of the guacamole. Though I first asked if their was gluten (and the answer was no), I just had this sneaking suspicion that something wasn't right...or should I say, was so wrong. That snippet of doubt should have been all I needed to convince me to "just say no" but I dismissed my intuition and ate it anyway.
Within two hours, the usual time it takes my body to recognize gluten, I knew that I was in trouble and at that moment, was pretty darn sure that the guacamole was to blame.
I was right.
So, needless to say I've been reeling since July 3rd...suffering from serious brain fog that lingers, exhaustion, being unable to consume much food at all, and one really messed up stomach...not to mention the depression that starts to creep in when I've been feeling this way for so many days. I'm sure that this is not news to any of you out there...I'm just commiserating with "my people!"
Seriously though, what I've learned after several conversations with the Whole Foods store manager and marketing people is that all of their designated "prepared foods" sections are now strictly off limits to Celiacs - which can also include the salad bar...so I was told to eat there at my own risk. As cautious as I am, and normally so aware, this was a mistake that I've definitely learned from and will hopefully prevent others from repeating, but mostly has served as a wake up call to myself and a strong reminder that trusting your "gut"...ha ha...or intuition, when it comes to knowing what is safe or not, is so important and usually our best ally.
So, as much as I love Whole Foods and realize that many of you out there most-likely shop there for your gluten-free products, as well, just be doubly safe the next time you approach the salad bar or any other prepared foods area.
Today I went to a business women’s power lunch. Now I am not a businesswoman and could give many examples of my failed attempts at staying-home-and-making-millions-while-I-do-the-laundry-and-change-diapers, but I had better not. However, I attended the luncheon after a generous invitation from a successful acquaintance who thought I’d meet the right person to springboard my latest project.
There’s something I need to clarify before I continue. Like most who probably visit the celiac.com website, I am completely gluten intolerant, which as you know, precludes me from eating any – and by any I mean not one speck – of gluten, the protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye, and consequently, all mainstream bread products. It’s not too difficult to manage at home, but eating out is a challenge. The trouble with ‘messing up’, is that I can spend up to three days in bed from a cascade of symptoms that are unstoppable once I have ingested the dreaded culprit. Since three days in bed doesn’t exactly jive with mothering young children, I do everything in my power to keep my diet gluten-free.
Thus, I am apprehensive about the lunch on multiple levels. I have been an at-home mom for so long I’m not sure I’ll remember business etiquette, I am feeling anxiety over whether I’ll be able to eat the food or not, and the sheer dilemma of arranging a babysitter on a school day for my home schooled girls is leaving me flustered. To make matters worse, in the scramble to transfer kids and car seats into my babysitter’s Landrover, I have managed to arrive late to the luncheon. People are already being seated and I find myself table-less and without a business name to place on my nametag for my latest project.
Finally, they open a new table and three other dangling women, a gentleman, and I are gratefully seated. I look around for someone to chat with, but the man next to me is clattering away, shifting the place settings out of his way so he can have room to lay out all his business paraphernalia. I finger my blank-business label name tag nervously when, out of the corner of my eye, I see the woman to the right of me tearing up her crusty baguette. I turn my head and focus clearly, watching in horror as crumbs fly in all directions, some landing dangerously close to my water glass.
I think of the article I recently read on celiac.com, that fear of gluten contamination can be more harmful than actually ingesting a miniscule amount of gluten. Reminding myself of this, I push away my worries and lift my glass to take a drink. Right before my lips make contact, I look down to see not one, but two breadcrumbs floating near the top of my water. I stop, my motion to drink frozen in place, glance around to make sure nobody is looking, and then very slowly set my water glass back down. Being surrounded by high- powered executives, all strangers to me, I cannot summon the boldness to request a fresh glass of water.
I sit through the entire lunch and sip on the other drink placed on the table – an iced tea. Incidentally, sometimes certain brands of iced tea give me migraines, but I decide that purposefully ingesting floating breadcrumbs is more risky than taking a chance on the tea.
The main speaker for the event is announced, and I attempt to focus on what is being said, only to realize that my neighbor is now ripping up another piece of bread. This time, breadcrumbs land on my knife.
My anxiety is reaching a new level. I carefully retrieve the knife and attempt to inconspicuously clean it with my napkin. This attempt is nullified, however, when the main course is placed before me—breaded fish. I look down at my purse, open on the floor next to me, trying to will my stash of nuts that I left in the car back into my purse, which is where they should be for emergencies like this. Just as well, though, because now my tablemate is cutting her breaded fish with such gusto that pieces of food are flying off the table and landing in my purse…
Two hours later, I leave the luncheon, faint with hunger and drive to a local Pollo Tropical. (For those of you that don’t know, they serve beans and rice and I can eat their chicken “tropi-chop” fairly successfully). Barely able, in my low-blood-sugar state, to count out the change correctly, I pay for my meal and drive off. Only then do I realize that they never gave me a fork. No problem, I careen down the interstate eating beans and rice with my fingers, having survived yet another day gluten-free in a gluten-filled world. Small wonder I prefer to eat at home. I promise myself that no matter what else I need to do in order to earn money on the side while I stay at home, I will not, for the rest of my days, attend another power luncheon without at least three gluten-free emergency snacks on hand.
- By Kimberly McGowan
- Published 06/11/2008
I have been reading articles that say that people with celiac shouldn't consume strawberries due to the fact that they are grown in straw. I picked strawberries with my children yesterday and I asked the local grower what type of straw they used and sure enough it was wheat straw. I have eaten strawberries and had not had a reaction, but after knowing this, I didn't eat any of the ones that we picked. I intend to look into this situation and I will keep you posted as to what I find out.
But beware! Not all labels are up-to-date. Why, just last night at a baseball game, I happened to glance at a bag of Doritos chips. I had even been told by the company a year ago that the item was gluten free. They looked delicious, but something in my gut (literally) told me to read the ingredient label over once more just to make sure everything was ok. And low and behold! Right there, WHEAT FLOUR. Ah! Well, I cannot say how fortunate I was to read the label. I gave myself a little pat on the back for my wise choice. But while I was disappointed that I could not eat Doritos again, I am pleased to note that I have found many other mainstream items that label themselves officially gluten-free.
Here are just some of what can be found in your local grocery store:
Yoplait 99% Fat Free Yogurt
Best Foods Mayonnaise
...these were the only things I bought at the store the other day, but there are more items to come!