To say I have supportive parents would be an understatement. The older I get, the more thanks I give for the love, loyalty, and encouragement they show me every day. For Celiac Awareness Month, I asked them to write a guest post about how they keep a gluten-free kitchen, not for their sake, but for mine. I hope this is something you can show your family if you are struggling with support at home, as I know many who have celiac disease are. I am overwhelmed by the lengths my parents have gone to keep me not just safe, but comfortable and included. Here they are, in their own words.
Hi. We are Mark and Megan. Our daughter, Alysa, has celiac disease. It has been a mean, ravaging, wearing experience for her to adjust to. Our other daughter, Kate, has extreme gluten intolerance. Our favorite thing to do is to cook and we have always had family over for big meals, barbecue, homemade sushi, just any excuse to get together and eat good food.
For quite a while, we have kept a gluten free kitchen even though we don’t have gluten intolerance or celiac disease. This story will tell you why we do.
When Alysa was ﬁrst diagnosed we decided to keep a “gluten-free” area of the kitchen with which to cook her food – new pans, gluten-free ingredients. Everything we thought we needed. We placed the pieces of equipment which we thought were “most glutened” such as our toaster and panini press, in another cupboard.
We cooked our ﬁrst gluten-free meal and Alysa was ill for a week afterwards. What had we done wrong?! Oh…spices can have gluten in them, condiments can have gluten in them, raw nuts can be contaminated. Wheat ﬂour swirls around in the air and puts a light coating on EVERYTHING. Oh….
So we tried to be even more careful. Installed an app on our phones that tells us what products are gluten-free when shopping at the grocery store. Switched to all-purpose gluten-free ﬂour instead of wheat ﬂour. Learned the basics of reading labels. That worked pretty well. Then we made fried chicken in the cast iron pan we have lovingly seasoned for years. Once again, Alysa was sick for a week.
But Alysa just doesn’t get sick. Gluten affects her brain, she doesn’t feel safe to drive. She has absolutely no energy. The effects last a long time. And she has 2 children to keep up with. We decided it was time to make sure our daughters really felt safe eating in our home. They have to be so careful about eating in restaurants and other peoples’ homes. We wanted them to be able to just walk in to our house and pull out chips in the pantry, leftovers in the refrigerator, cookies on the counter, and know that they can eat them without worrying.
It hasn’t been a big transition for us to eat this way. If we want to eat gluten bread, pasta, pizza, we go out to eat. And we don’t bring the leftovers home.
Last weekend the whole family was together at our house. Both daughters felt free to help themselves to anything and everything in our kitchen. We have gluten-free bread so they made a sandwich, helped themselves to left over chicken, snacked on pretzels from the pantry and gorged (a little) on chocolate cake. They have total peace of mind in our home knowing they won’t get sick.
Our question is this – Why wouldn’t any parent want to do this for their child? The health is and peace of mind of our daughters is definitely worth it.