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How to be Your Own Gluten-free Diet Advocate

Celiac.com 06/17/2014 - Ever notice how much our social lives are based around food? Or how much food is all around us? I took my son to a local children’s exhibit today with shops and about twenty different restaurants, cafes and bakeries we had to walk by. Do I feel bad always having to say no? Of course I do. What mom wouldn’t? There may have been some safe choices but I try to do my research ahead of time when I can call the places to see what their cross contamination procedures are.

Photo: CC--mira66We don’t ever get a day off from food allergies. It is constant. I think one of the best things you can do on a gluten free diet is to inform others,actively campaign for yourself and share information. Not only does this help out the gluten-free community but it also can make your life easier.

Here are a few ways you can do this.

If you go to restaurants where you have a chatty server or have the opportunity to speak with the manager or owner talk to them about cross contamination and what you expect when dining out. Inform them about kitchen and staff training for their establishments, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness GREAT Kitchens and The Gluten-Free Food Service Training and Management Accreditation Program by the Gluten Intolerance Group are both excellent programs. I think a lot of restaurant owners aren’t aware of how serious the risks are and how the tiniest crumb can make us sick.

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I am not a big fan of grocery shopping in general and really don’t want to have to go to several stores a week to get what I need. I am pretty picky on my gluten-free bread and pizzas, I hate to spend money on a product I am not going to like. I frequently put in request at my supermarket customer service counter for them to carry certain brands. Guess what it works and the stores want you to do it. The gluten-free market exploded over the past few years, most big grocery stores don’t already know the favorites of the consumers.

Educate your friends and family. Thanks to social media we have the opportunity to spread information like never before. There are a ton of great infographics on symptoms and gluten-free foods and safety. For me one of the hardest things is how social eating is.Getting invited over for dinner is tough. My friends have good intentions but just aren’t aware of all the foods that may contain gluten and how to properly handle food prep. I know I can be somewhat shy when it comes to this. It is hard to explain to people why spices may contain gluten or that barbecue sauce. It can make you seem overly picky and I don’t like to be a burden. If that is the way you feel hey I get it. But don’t be nice and just eat food without questioning. It’s not worth it. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to explain everything to someone, I normally bring my own food or eat beforehand. A lot of times I try to just keep things simple and suggest we meet for coffee or for a walk.

Unfortunately there are going to be people that don’t food sensitivities seriously. Food allergies are being made fun of in the media too often. Always remember to put your health first.

I hope that you find what I have shared helpful. Please feel free to share some of the ways you inform others and help the gluten-free community.

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4 Responses:

 
Beatriz
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said this on
23 Jun 2014 6:00:40 PM PST
I can't agree more on how less spontaneous I can be now that I am gluten free. I attended a wedding this weekend where they served ice cream. My gluten-free daughter wanted some but the serving staff could not tell me if it was gluten free. I know. It was just vanilla ice cream. How could it possibly have gluten? Well, I was upset that the staff could not tell me the ingredients. My daughter at 4 years old proved to be more flexible than me and appeared not to care so much that we could not have the ice cream or the toppings since they were self-serve and the cookie crumb topping was right in the middle of the rest of the fruit toppings. Arrrrghh!!! Well, we had a wonderful time at the wedding without ice cream and without vomiting from accidental ingestion. When it comes to eating at someone else's house, my close friends already know that we only eat fruit and fresh veggies at their house and it has to be cut up on a plate (not on their cutting board). To one friend, I gave a cutting board to be kept gluten free at her house since my kids always end up at her house. So far, we have never had reactions from eating fruit and cut up veggies at friends' houses. On other occasions we just invite friends to our house for dinner or bring our dinner over to their houses. So far, it has worked out. But I never leave the house without back up food.

 
Helen
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said this on
24 Jun 2014 8:52:27 PM PST
I know how it is. Good article!

 
Coloradosue
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said this on
25 Jun 2014 12:19:56 AM PST
What get's me is that these so-called natural stores don't seem to get that gluten free foods have to be stored SEPARATE from wheat, barley, and rye foods! I personally talked to that day manager as to why this isn't being done. Strangely enough, having a gluten sensitive herself and after being showed a shelf where GF and regular boxed crackers where stored next to each other despite the fact that cross contamination could cause serious problems, we both promised to contact the stores headquarters with suggestions on arranging GF items totally separate in area of the store. Still waiting on reply.
And as soon as my so-called friends found out about my GF diagnosis, the invitations stopped coming. And I no longer try to make friends. SUCKS!

 
Evie
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said this on
02 Nov 2017 11:06:58 PM PST
Being recently diagnosed with 30+ years of gluten loving happily shoveled down my throat and an 8-year old still grieving the end of fast food mostly burgers it's hard. Unlike peanut or shellfish allergies where you can see an reaction I get that eye roll of here we go, you're just a trend following yuppie parent with a groan in passing. Eating now becomes a scavenger hunt with passing the boxes or bags between both parents before hoping what they say is true and it doesn't taste or resemble pretend food. I've only met one server that understood my grilling or great at practicing their acting skills. There's so many hidden gluten sources I can relate to the wedding ice cream post. Why would you need any gluten in basic not mixed with toppings flavors? I don't know other than to cut production costs. My daughter is so freaked that she'll ingest some by accident and miss school mostly a fun activity at school. Her worst was after eating a normal sized muffin, it was a week nursing her stomach trying to rebuild her gut because there's no meds to negate it overnight that I know of. Where the most judgement comes from is at her school. Why can't she have one pancake not like she's going to stop breathing. We have to adjust our whole class party because your kid can't eat normal food grumble even if I offer to provide her food and hover over it to make sure her plate isn't mixed up. If she had a nut allergy it would be pity and due diligence but I feel like a nutjob saying no it's a real condition wanting to scream, "well do you want to clean up her vomit or sit with her on the toilet be my guest." I have to be that mom that says no to everything or pack a lunch for parties hoping she doesn't get tempted by her friends. I can send the links and all that but since they can't see a reaction then it's not that bad a little won't hurt.




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