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Need Help With Transitioning To Mostly Gluten Free Household

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Hello everyone. We received our son's (age 4.5yrs) positive diagnosis of Celiac (from biopsy) on Tuesday, met with the dietician on Thursday and are now on our own. I am struggling with the best way to do everything. We have three other children and although we would love to go totally Gluten free in the house, but it just isn't financially feasible right now. For some things we are making the complete switch- pasta, soups, etc. The things that we aren't completely switching are bread, cereal etc. I am not sure what we are going to do about meats, crackers, etc.

What is the best way to set up our kitchen, pantry and fridge to avoid cross contamination? I am working on rearranging the pantry and fridge so that he will easily know which snacks, foods are safe for him to eat. I am realizing, though how many times during the making of one meal I am at risk of cross contaminating. My first real meal that I made for him was a grilled cheese sandwich. I did good at making his sandwich first, using 'clean' materials and supplies. I then made the other sandwiches, gave everyone gluten free pepperoni sticks, served lunch and realized we needed a fruit/veggie, so I grabbed a pear, headed for the cutting board and realized I couldn't use it because it was now dirty! I got out a new cutting board, but couldn't remember which knife was from his sandwich, so then got another one....... argh! Does this get easier?

Also-dishwasher question..... if we are washing our dishes with his, do we need to worry about the gluten food flecks getting left behind? what about the utensil drawer? It always seems to have some kind of 'flecks' that constantly appear.

I guess I am just looking for tips and tricks from those of you that are managing a combined household.

Well, one more question. Prior to diagnosis, we would have a few weeks of diarrhea then a week or so of almost-normal stools, etc. We started gluten free on thursday. His stools had been not bad, and remained that way until today. He got one of his baby sisters 'puffs' which are made of wheat. About 2 hours later we had explosive diarrhea. Do you think the gluten/gluten free diet was affecting him this quickly?

I will stop rambling on right now and wait with baited breath for all of your expert advice!!

Thank you!!!!!!!


Son1-lifelong diarrhea and generally unwell. Diagnosed March 2010 with positive blood work end endoscopy-finally feeling better August 2011

Son2-Diagnosed August2011 Bloodwork only.

Me-Positive bloodwork October 2011, Endoscopy booked November 15th.

Daughter1-no symptoms, negative bloodwork twice

Daugher 2- no symptoms, no bloodwork yet.

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Our situation is a bit different in that we are dealing with allergies and not celiac. But pretty much the same diet.

What we did was to buy a little refrigerator for my daughter's food. We did this for a variety of reasons. She wasn't old enough to be able to read labels and figure out what was safe for her. My husband and parents (just in case they might babysit) couldn't seem to figure it out either. And also to avoid cross contamination. She had her own jam, nut butter, mustard, etc.

We also used a card table set up in a corner of the dining room for her speical foods that didn't require refrigeration. Why a card table? Because it's what we had. We have since bought some bins and shelves and hopefully one day will be able to afford a free standing pantry.

We have a very small kitchen and not enough cupboards the way it is. I do keep things like gluten-free pasta and rice in the regular cupboard. Her storage space just holds things that only she will eat like cereal, gluten-free crackers, bread, etc. I did replace all of my baking things. I have diabetes so didn't do much baking to begin with. And after she was diagnosed, I baked up a storm, trying to find things she could/would eat. I wound up mostly not baking and just buying pre-made stuff for her.

I did buy her a toaster just for her. A cheap one. I did replace some of my pans and other cooking utensils.

I do not use cutting boards. I use paper plates. Wasteful, yes. But no change of cross contamination there. I also use plastic knives for making sandwiches and other things. I just use one and throw it away. I buy these at Costco so they are cheap. I also look frequently at the local party store. For some reason they tend to put the knives on clearace for next to nothing. Yes, they might be odd colors, but I don't care!

We do not eat a lot of sandwiches at home. My daughter does sometimes take them in her lunch and I do make them a couple of times a week for her to eat after school and before dance class. If I were going to make them at home for us all to eat, I would make them all on paper plates. I would make hers first. Then mine (I also have food allergies but less than she does), then finally the one for my husband. I would use a plastic knife and use the same knife for hers and mine, then wipe it with a paper towel and use it for my husband's. He prefers mustard on his and we use fake butter on ours.

For dinners, I mostly try to make something we all can eat. Pasta. Or meat with rice or potatoes. Some kind of vegetable. I tend to cook things that are naturally gluten-free. Or I will make gluten-free gravy or sauce. Took some doing to come up with something to put in casseroles, but I finally came up with a "cream" of mushroom soup using fresh and dried mushrooms, rice milk and Nucoa, thickened with sweet rice flour.

My husband currently lives in another state (he's in the military) so when it is just my daughter and I here, it's not a problem. I rarely eat bread or crackers. I do eat peanut butter stuffed pretzels and sometimes regular pretzels. I just keep them by my computer. This is where I eat them.

My husband does eat bread, crackers, cookies, pie, cake, etc. I do not make these for him. I buy them. They are eaten on paper plates.

I find we generally do not have trouble at home with cross contamination. The main problem with that occurs at my parent's house where we go for holiday meals. People tend to pass gluteny things or other allergens over her plate. Or they expect her to touch things she is allergic to. Or don't understand that these things can't share a serving platter with her food. Or the same knife can't be used for different things. They think I am being silly and going overboard and poisoning her mind. They think a little bit of something can't hurt you.

When they say this... I give the example of a pill. I will ask them what the smallest pill is that they take. And they all take some kind of prescription med. They will then give me the name of the pill. So I will say, "Why don't you give Angela one?" To which I am met with a horrified look. I then reply, "Well... It's so small! A little bit can't hurt. Right?" You would think they would get it from that. But they do not.

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We have designated the pantry for all of my daughters gluten-free foods, we have also designated shelves in the fridge and freezer. We purchased new cooking utensils pots/pans, potholders, cutting boards and we got all of them in red. We tell everyone that only red items are to be used for her. We also designated a silverware draw for her to avoid crumbs since our draw is near the stove. We use a different part of the counter to prepare her foods (even though we use paper plates). We also buy our daughter her own butter, peanut butter, grated cheese, etc. I don't bake for anyone but my daughter so when I got the baking pans I dont need to worry about that. I don't cook for myself and my husband only for her (my husband still thinks I can't iron! LOL)

The hardest part is when she is not home. People just don't understand the importance of avoiding cross contamination or thinking it is OK to give her "just a little". I have tried books, lists, talking to them - only to find out that one of my babysitters was giving her french fries and sharing her sandwiches!

Keep reading, talking to your doctor keep & asking questions of those who are in your situation, I know I do. :)

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