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I travel frequently, and must admit the only time I've had no issues is when I brought and ate my own food. However, I don't live too far from Chicago, and my husband and I like to visit at least once a year. I'll be taking your restaurant list with me the next time I go.
It seems that pumping ourselves full of drugs to allow us to tolerate gluten is a bit like injecting everyone with a substance to make them glow so we can find them in the dark... rather then just turning on a light.
We found a very simple solution... don't eat gluten. Why do we need drugs in our systems?
Few domestic airlines even offer actual meals anymore, and those that do usually offer a limited selection, and no longer cater to special diets because the possibility of waste if the flight is delayed, canceled or you are reaccomodated on an alternate flight or airline. But, call your airline just to make sure. The reservations agent should be able to let you know.
Still, even if they do offer a gluten free option, make sure you have enough food in the event that your order gets lost, or in any other way messed up, or you encounter a significant delay like Takala mentioned. I fly a lot (work for an airline), and while I have had my share of snags, most of the time I've had smooth sailing. The TSA will let you pass with just about anything if you tell them it is because of a gluten sensitivity. Really, they can be very accommodating.
Like Takala, I bring sliced cheese, rice crackers and fruit. I've also brought yoghurt (allowed past the TSA because of a special diet). A tip I received from a TSA agent for ANYONE wanting to bring yoghurt past security is to freeze it solid in its container, and keep it cold on the way to the airport. If its solid when you go through security, they can let it through. I've also never encountered grief from a flight attendant for bringing my meal on board. Just make sure you have a container small enough to fit under the seat in front of you and you're golden.
Remember, too, you can bring several 3 oz containers of liquid/gel substances in your carry on. I bring several small tupperware-type containers of peanut butter, then sliced apples or carrots to dip into it. I've also brought hummus in those same small containers, with sliced red peppers or other veggies or crackers to dip.
Honestly, I eat better than the passengers that buy a meal.
ETA: Funny, Julissa, about the gluten-free Lite I simply would not trust a gluten-free meal on an aircraft. Those meals are assembled in the same kitchens as all the other meals and I just would be too afraid of cross-contamination combined with a "please remain seated with your seatbelt securely fastened" situation.
First of all, let me congratulate you for your achievement. Remember, you did it for you, not your parents, so enjoy it for yourself.
Now, for the scolding (gentle and loving, I promise!). If the real issues have nothing or little to do with your celiac, please don't use celiac as an excuse. Part of the issues we gluten-sensitives have with the general public is the perception that we are using celiac as social or psychological crutch.
If you are ambivalent about your field of study, or your family's lack of concern, please work through those issues directly. That is far more productive than throwing celiac in as a red herring. To your credit, you recognize that you are doing that and admitted it.
Now, go out with your friends and celebrate your achievement!
Consider yourself lucky that you have friends that ask YOU, rather than talk about it among themselves. They are giving you the opportunity to educate them, rather than gossiping behind your back. Thank them for that, next time you talk. It will open their minds and keep you from appearing defensive in their eyes.
I love the explanations offered by others here. As an early gluten-free-er, I felt happy that I was not one of those "crumb people" who was sensitive to minute particles of gluten. Yeah, laugh at me now, but that was in the early stages of my education. I've learned since. So, if those directly affected can be so mis-informed, we have to forgive those who have never been affected by it.
Believe me, it gets better and easier once you've gotten used to it. There are pages and pages in these forums of inexpensive ways to make your own food. The only thing you can't replicate gluten free is convenience. It will take you time to make your own food, but it doesn't have to be spendy.
First of all, if it is affecting your job performance (I'm assuming that leaving a classroom to run to the restroom could do that), stop relying on the cafeteria for lunches. Heck, as a cost saving (as well as nutrition) measure, my son brought all of his lunches from home. He isn't celiac, but it saved us money rather than costing more.
Second, stop buying the packaged gluten-free foods. Instead, find your local Asian food store. There you will find a wealth of rice based ingredients, especially flour and noodles. I find my favorite rice based crackers there. A can of tuna, a little mayo and I have the ingredients for tuna salad on crackers. Nice lunch. Replace the tuna salad with chicken salad, egg salad, ham salad, thinly sliced beef roast, hummus... you get the idea. Even PB&J taste pretty good on rice crackers. If you don't have a Asian food store nearby, and can't find the crackers in the Asian aisle of your local food store, Blue Diamond makes some nice rice/almond crackers that can be found in the regular cracker section of most supermarkets.
In the end, what it comes down to is being creative and even a little adventurous. You can eat gluten-free on a shoestring budget.
While you can not count on every agent being so accommodating, I have found that I was allowed to bring my hummus or chicken salad in my carry on by letting the TSA agent know that I was on a special diet, and can't eat the food on board.
I have also had luck bringing cut up fruit apples and carrots, sliced cheese and rice crackers. Like MrsVJW, I've also brought small containers of peanut butter in my ziplock bag, with no problem. Sliced apples dipped in peanut butter are one of my favorite travel snacks.
I'm sorry your birthday was a flop, but I'm glad that you took it as a lesson, and turned the lemons into lemon cake.
I think Yolo said it best... we have to take responsibility for our own health and always make sure we have what we need to eat with us.
In fact, if I didn't already have several long-standing celiac members in my extended family, I probably wouldn't trust eating anything they made anyway. It takes a bit of education and trial and error to get gluten-free cooking and baking down right. How many of us have glutened ourselves in the early stages because we didn't know about some forms of hidden gluten? Expecting non-celiacs to know all the ins and outs of cooking and baking gluten free is a recipe for disaster (or, maybe just diarrhea).
Cut your family a break, and tell them not to worry about you... that you will always bring food you can eat as long as they do not try to cajole you into eating something that you know is not safe.
There are lots of ways you can substitute potatoes in your everyday meals. I slip cubed turnips in soups and stews and my kids (who would hurl at the thought of eating turnips) have never noticed the difference.
I also like to "lace" my twice baked potatoes w/ mashed cauliflower. Can't use the cauliflower entirely, but I use about mix about half and half cauli and potatoes and, again, the unsuspecting rugrats haven't caught on yet.
If you can eat a little bit of potatoes, just not a lot, these tricks may help keep your tummy happy.
I had my usual Cinnabun on a Spoon, made with my brown rice cereal. I eat this 5 out of 7 mornings a week, and never tire of it (really, who gets tired of Cinnabuns??). I just posted a long post in the recipe forum, with instructions to make your own hot, brown rice cereal, followed with how to make Cinnabun on a Spoon with it.
Home made Hot Brown Rice Cereal and Cinnabun on a Spoon
I hope its ok to post my "make it yourself" recipe here, since I don't really have it posted anywhere else to link it to, but I've always wanted to share it. It's for hot, brown rice cereal with the look and texture of oatmeal. For those who miss hot oatmeal on a cold morning, this will make you forget all about the old Quaker guy.
I often make several pounds of this at one time, as I have to clean out my coffee grinder to do it, and since that's a pain, I don't like to have to do it too often. I use a Kitchen Aid Coffee grinder that I've seen on sale for about $50 or so. It must be a burr grinder, the blade grinders will just pop your rice grains around like popcorn. I know $50 is pretty pricey for some, but when you compare the cost of commercial rice cereal with a lifetime of making your own, the savings are tremendous. They charge a lot for those small boxes of rice cereal, and they all have a bit of a chemically taste to me, anyway.
Buy your favorite brand of brown rice. Stay away from anything precooked or "enriched". You just want plain old, raw brown rice.
Spread it, one grain deep, on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 F until it toasts up nicely. About 7 to 10 minutes in the oven. You will get a nice nutty, grassy smell when it is ready. (Don't worry, the cereal tastes nothing like grass )
Once toasted, cool the rice in a bowl. I do this process multiple times until I have about four pounds of rice, but you can make as much or as little as you like.
Once cooled, place rice in a clean, burr-style coffee grinder. Set your grinder to a very coarse setting. I use the coarsest setting on my Kitchenaid. Then grind your rice into rice cereal.
That's it. Put your cereal in a airtight container, and it will last for months.
Now, to cook it. I found that one part rice cereal to 5 parts water makes the texture I like best. So, for me, one quarter cup of ground rice cereal to 1 and 1/4 cup of water. I first made it in my microwave, for 12 minutes at half power. This kept the cereal from boiling up out of my bowl and forcing a microwave clean-up. However, I didn't like the energy waste of using the nuker for 12 minutes every morning (I'm a tree hugger, too!) So, I hauled out my small 30-year old rice maker. If you don't have one, you can buy one for about $10 to $15 on sale at any Target, Walmart, Kmart, etc.
Same proportions, one part cereal to five parts water. Takes about the same amount of time, ok, maybe a couple of minutes more, in the rice maker than it does in the microwave. But, you don't have to watch it and can be showering and getting dressed while it is cooking.
After that, you can put it together the same way you make oatmeal. Sometimes I throw some raisins in while it is cooking, and it makes nice, plump raisins in my cereal.
But, my favorite way to eat it is what I call "Cinnabun on a Spoon." Once cooked, put your cereal in a bowl and add dark brown sugar to taste, a generous amount of cinnamon (maybe 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon), generous amount of vanilla (again, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp) and a pat of butter. Let stand for a moment while the butter melts, then stir it all up. Add a drop or two of milk if you like. Then, close your eyes and imagine biting into your favorite cinnamon bun. It is THAT good!
I know the instructions seem long, but its really pretty easy. I often to it on a cold weekend morning when I am cleaning my kitchen. And it is definitely worth the trouble. Especially if you are trying to find a way to save money while eating gluten free and healthy.
I'm very, very lucky, and don't have to. Not only do I have a huge grocery store within walking distance of my house that has an entire gluten-free aisle, but I also have a huge Asian grocery store within 5 miles, that carries all sorts of flours, rice, sweet rice, tapioca starch, potato starch, plus rice crackers and other foods that are naturally gluten-free.
We try to avoid too many convenience foods, so make the majority of our family meals ourselves. With very few exceptions, my whole family eats the same meals, gluten-free sensitive or not, so I most of our meals are just naturally gluten-free.
While I know that our sponsors make this website possible, and I thank them for it, I encourage everyone, especially those who are finding gluten-free to be a great strain on their budget, to check out their local Asian and Hispanic food stores.
When I read the thread title, I immediately thought that they were referring to your celiac as not being real. THAT would have riled me up.
However, if they were simply commenting on your lunch, I think you have been given enough good responses above, especially the one about the calories not being real, either. Personally, I might have responded "Oh, but it is a most delicious hallucination!"
I guess I have to say I am lucky in that there are not one, not two, but three celiacs in my extended family. Add to that several other people w/ special dietary needs or food allergies and you have a real culinary challenge on holiday get-togethers.
Dinner was cooked by my SIL, who, if not intensely versed in celiac, asked the right questions and researched approprate recipes. Dinner was entirely edible and quite delicious.
Not only that, but there were dozens of gluten-free cookies available for snacking.
All in all, it was a safe and satisfying holiday for me.
After reading this over, I'm afraid it sounds smug. I'm not being smug, honestly. Just very pleased that I have a family that truly understands.