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New Roommate Has Celiac

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 05:27 AM

I am moving in with a new roommate in July and she was just diagnosed with Celiac disease this month. I have tried to help her out by baking some gluten free cupcakes (I cleaned everything I used very thoroughly and used muffin cups in case the pan had traces in it) and helping her find gluten-free snacks/options for eating out, etc. I told her that I would try to be gluten-free as well once we move in together, but I guess I just want to make sure that it is okay for me healthwise to do that. Just wondering if anyone else has done this? I am assuming it is fine for me to go gluten-free as long as I make sure I get a well-balanced diet, but I'm just wondering if I would have problems going back to a gluten diet after next year. Also, I have read that if I am careful I can still eat gluten/have gluten foods in our apartment, but I'm not sure if that is fair to her... At least not while she is still adjusting to being gluten-free. I already have planned to keep my pans separate from hers, she is going to have her own toaster, etc. We already both have sets of dishes and other utensils. But is it okay for us to share pans, etc if we make sure they are cleaned thoroughly? Any advice would be helpful!
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Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:26 AM

Hi Kristen,
What a great roommate you'll be! I'm a relative newbie, so stay tuned for more answers...here's what I can offer...

Yes, you'll likely be fine nutritionally:
I'm a Mom of twin 5 year olds newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease. My husband and I don't seem to be affected, according to current bloodwork, so just the kids need to be gluten-free (gluten free). However, we also felt out of respect to the kids (and to avoid making them feel deprived) we would create a gluten free household. At our appointment with the kids' doctor this week she was supportive of a gluten-free home and said, "None of us NEED gluten in our diets from a nutritional standpoint." She added, "A gluten-free diet is probably healthier for everyone."

Possibly test before reducing gluten in your diet:
That said, I encourage you to actually have a look at the list of symptoms of Celiac Disease and really ask yourself if there is any chance you too could have celiac disease. If you have any question in your mind, have the Celiac bloodwork done BEFORE you reduce your gluten intake (it costs a whopping $28 without insurance--it cost us $2.80 out of pocket). Also, celiac disease can be silent (you may not have any symptoms you notice). 1 in 100 (or 133) depending on the stats have celiac disease and 97% of all people with celiac disease are UNdiagnosed. If you reduce your gluten intake substantially before you test you will not get reliable results.

If you're ok with gluten:
You can always eat gluten outside your apartment, at restaurants, at work, etc. This is what my husband does! He is the official family garbage can (he eats anything set in front of him) and he is NOT celiac, doesn't have the gene pair, etc. So it's safe for him (although in some people's opinions-mine-gluten is evil for everyone).

My running incident:
We took one of our kiddos off gluten and I went gluten-free with her so she wouldn't feel alone (but I wasn't strict about my diet). One day before a run I grabbed a piece of toast and headed out. Mile 4 I knew there was something VERY wrong and I did my best to get home...I made it to 50 yards from our house before I had explosive D. The grossest thing ever... So, I either became more sensitive to gluten or discovered I had an issue with gluten... Needless to say, I now eat a banana before I run! ...No wonder I think gluten is evil.

Is it ok to share pans, etc:
Likely. It depends how sensitive your roommate is.

You're going to be a great roommate! All my best!
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Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:42 AM

Welcome, Kristen! What a thoughtful roommate you will be!!!

If you have no problem with gluten, you should be able to go back and forth between it and gluten-free with no problem. And if you check some of the recipe threads on this forum, you'll know we are not exactly deprived. A gluten-free diet can be very healthy with lots of fruits, veggies, meats, etc. And there are a lot of normal supermarket foods and snacks that should be safe for both of you.

There are a number of members here who do not have gluten-free kitchens and do just fine. I'd avoid baking with regular flour as it can stay airborne and contaminate surfaces in your kitchen. If you have regular bread, etc. you should have a designated area for it as well as having separate condiments so she's not glutened through cross contamination.

My daughter, also celiac, has a shared kitchen as my son-in-law and granddaughter do have regular bread for sandwiches. But all dinners are gluten-free...it just makes it easier.

Your roommate should definitely have her own cutting board, wooden spoons, colander and toaster (which she already has). I replaced a lot of kitchen equipment as mine were ancient but if your pans are not scratched and are well cleaned, they should be fine.

Hope this helps a bit.
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Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:07 PM

You are very sweet and thoughtful. Your roommate is lucky to have you!
I only have one daughter who is gluten free. We are not a gluten free house because well, it is too expensive to be gluten free. We have our cheap bread and she has her expensive bread. We do have seperate toasters though! I have 2 bins in the cabinet labeled with my kids names for their snacks. One has some reg. granola bars and the other has the $5 box of gluten free granola bars.
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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:09 PM

I hope my roommates in August will be as thoughtful as you, Kristen!
As someone living in a house with four gluten-eaters, it's entirely possible to be safe. My family cooks only gluten-free when I'm at home, and we always pick gluten-friendly places to eat out. Of course, there's no 100% guarantee of safety, but as long as you wipe up crumbs, wash pans thoroughly, and try to avoid wheat flour (airborne particles) in the apartment, you should be okay.
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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:52 PM

Wow, you're going to be a great roommate for her! Keeping from eating gluten in front of her while she is still adjusting is a really considerate thing to do and it will help her get over the shock of a lifelong diet change.

As others have said, there are no issues not eating gluten for a little while. (Unless you discover that you are gluten-sensitive yourself! ;) It's been known to happen.) Just be careful of your portion sizes when you eat gluten-free baked goods. They are a bit more starchy than wheat and can have a few more calories. Some people also find the xanthan gum in some gluten-free breads doesn't agree with them. Rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are great foods for people with celiac.

You can share anything you can scrub, or that cleans off completely like unscratched teflon. Dishes, glasses, and silverware are usually fine to share since you wash them thoroughly and they have hard surfaces that food won't cling to. Things that are porous or hard-to-clean like wooden spoons, cutting boards, or a colander will hold gluten and you need separate. Seasoned cast iron will also hold onto gluten, since you never scrub the seasoning off. If the baking sheets and cupcake tins aren't scrubbing perfectly clean, help your roommate remember to keep paper cupcake cups, foil, and baking parchment around so she can easily get a safe cooking surface.

If you start buying wheat breads, keep separate condiments for you and your roommate, or use squeeze bottles. Crumbs in the butter, jelly, peanut butter, or mayo are not much fun if you're celiac. A lot of families use colored tape to mark the gluten-free bottles.

The one thing you might not have thought of and I'd really suggest for your roommate is to avoid using flour or normal baking mixes as much as you can. Flour is so fine it gets into the air and traces of it end up everywhere. It's not too hard to clean up crumbs if you buy bread or a cake, but it's hard to clean up a fine dusting of flour everywhere. If she walks into the kitchen while you're baking she will even inhale any flour in the air, and you eventually swallow things you inhale. It might work OK measuring flour and adding wet ingredients outdoors, then bring the batter back inside.

Hope this helps and I wish everyone with celiac had a roommate as considerate as you are!
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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:17 AM

Everyone else has suggested useful tips but I just wanted to stop by and say how touched I was by your thoughtfulness to your future room mate. You are being the sweetest friend to her and I hope you both have lots of fun living together.
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Posted 18 June 2012 - 05:57 PM

Aww!! This is just awesome! You'll be an amazing roommate, of only we all had roomies like you! I think you'll find that once you both get settled in you'll find a routine that works well for you both food wise. I'm the only one in my family that's Celiac, and we make it work! Good luck to you both!! 😃
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Posted 06 July 2012 - 09:02 AM

You are the best roomie ever!!

My boyfriend and I keep our apartment gluten free. He does not have celiacs, but he is really supportive. When I met with the dietician after my diagnosis one year ago she encouraged him to keep eating gluten outside of our place. She felt it may be possible to develop a gluten sensitivity.

My boyfriend eats pizza once a week and maybe a few other things at lunchtime, but he has cut back drastically. He says he feels better now too!
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