Why my parents keep a gluten-free kitchen (even though they don’t have celiac disease)

Celiac Disease, Health May 11, 2015

Because it’s Celiac Awareness Month, and because I just ate the last 5 meals at their house, I thought I would share this old post written by my parents.

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. 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.

Why we keep a gluten-free kitchen

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  • Stacy @ Nourishing Health May 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    What a sweet, sweet post. Such loving and encouraging words for your parents. Thank to you and them for sharing!

  • Colleen May 14, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    You are so lucky to have such loving parents who get it. I have an autoimmune disease called eosinophilic esophagitis and gluten is one of my triggers. It’s been a difficult transition to a gluten-free lifestyle but for the most part I feel like I’ve got it now, except when it comes to family. It’s puzzling to me that they still don’t grasp how sick I can get. Reading your post made me envious. You’re blessed to have such amazing parents.

  • AnneM June 28, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    This is a really lovely piece — thank you for sharing it. I have a question about addressing celiac when there are other children in the household without CD. My oldest daughter has type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, both autoimmune illnesses. She is 14 and was diagnosed 2 years ago. She is also a life long vegetarian by choice. Our other two children, 9 and 12, are great with her and with the incredible amount of time she needs from us for managing these diseases. Currently we have a split kitchen but do not keep any loose wheat flour or grain, wheat crackers or any other easily dispersible gluten. All condiments and spices are GF also. My husband and I debate a GF kitchen but are concerned about this being yet another thing that her sibs have to sacrifice. How do you balance the GF needs with the needs of the sibs and the desire to maintain their close sibling friendships? I should add she is non-reactive to her celiac though it is clearly damaging her intestines. We only discovered it bc of screening from her T1 diagnosis and subsequent confirmed surgery.

    • Alysa July 3, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      That’s a great question. I think you just have to do what is best for your family. Since she is non-reactive, it makes it a little more difficult, since you won’t know if she is accidentally ingesting gluten. Sounds like you are doing a good job though! My kitchen is GF, but since my family is not GF, I keep a few gluten-containing snacks around, they are just careful with crumbs, and they wash well afterwards.