Going Gluten Free

Working Gluten Free Into Your Family’s Diet

Gluten is delicious. And it makes me sick. Not just queasy, but deathly anemic, fatigued and prone to fainting in inappropriate places (big-box stores and public washrooms, to name a few). Not what a stay-at-home mummy of two energetic boys should be. With mixed emotions, my relationship with gluten came to an abrupt end when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2010.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley – staples of the North American diet. When a person with Celiac Disease ingests gluten their body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients becomes dangerously compromised, paving the way for a number of serious health issues, including cancer and osteoporosis. Recent estimates suggest that 1 in 133 people in North America are sensitive to gluten, though most don’t know it.

Individuals on a gluten-free (GF) diet are always on the lookout for hidden sources of gluten, including sauces, deli meats, and candy. Even one taste can leave a Celiac with gut-wrenching stomach cramps and worse (hint: it involves extended stays in the washroom). So we take precautions, reading every ingredient list (twice) and thanking our lucky stars when products are kindly labelled as GF (and still reading the ingredient list).

My kitchen is not gluten-free. There is whole wheat bread on my counter and I regularly bake whole wheat muffins and cookies with my kids. I have, however, made some changes to the contents of my refrigerator and pantry that have streamlined the dinner-making process. This mummy doesn’t have the energy to make a separate meal for herself every night! We all eat a gluten-free meal and no one complains (unless there’s broccoli).

Many gluten-free products are of comparable taste and price to non-GF versions, making them easy substitutions. In my house, we all eat brown rice pasta, GF meats and sauces, and rice bread crumbs. No need to visit a specialty shop – it’s all found at the local grocery store. Other GF items, such as bread, cereal and flours, are more expensive and don’t taste “right” to the picky palates of my non-celiac family. Those items go on a mummy’s special shelf in the pantry, craved and ingested only by myself.

I miss chocolate chip cookies, grilled cheese sandwiches and banana bread. Yes, I could make gluten-free versions of each, but they just don’t taste the same. Goodbye, gluten. Keep your crumbs to yourself. My health and energy aren’t worth it.

Image Credit: vegfamily.com

Michelle is a stay-at-home mom of two incredible little boys. She is a freelance writer based in Edmonton, Alberta.