Would I Eat Gluten If I Didn’t React Horribly?

For the first week on Hilton Head Island, I suffered with severe stomach pains, bloating and lethargy. I’d been vigilant about avoiding gluten, soy, dairy, and corn. I’d eaten at trusted restaurants and the waitstaff appeared attentive, communicating my dietary needs to the chefs

Had I developed another allergy?

Then, while having lunch with my husband, he started reading the ingredients on the bag of Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday potato chips we shared.

“Did you know these aren’t labeled gluten-free and are processed in the same facility as gluten, dairy and soy?”  he asked. (He’s been listening after all!)

Slap me on the side of the head. We’d left the chips in the house from our last visit; I’d assumed I’d checked the ingredients when we bought them. I’d broken my own rules for staying safe when eating processed foods: 1) Always read the ingredient list; 2) Look for an allergen warning; 3) Eat only certified gluten-free products.

Within days of avoiding the chips, I felt fine.

This mistake reminded me to never let my guard down. It also made me wonder, What if I didn’t experience horrible symptoms from being glutened? Without a debilitating reaction, would I be less vigilant about sticking to my diet–and maybe even intentionally eat foods I knew contained gluten?

The answer is NO! I have done my homework and I know the short- and long-term effects of celiac disease. Before diagnosis, I experienced many of these symptoms. Why wouldn’t I avoid gluten if it meant I’d feel better and stay healthy longer? Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Courtesy of Gluten Dude

Some People Do Cheat

In my week here on the island, two restaurant workers in their twenties told me they’d been diagnosed with celiac disease. They also shared they regularly cheated a little because their reactions weren’t that bad. I know kids and young adults aren’t the only ones who cheat.

I’ve witnessed adults who say they have celiac disease one minute and stuff a donut into their mouth the next. In my opinion, they are old enough to know better, so let them damage all the villi they want.

As a mother of two twenty-somethings, and who was once a twenty-something herself, I know health isn’t always a top concern. So when a young person tells me his or her celiac disease isn’t that bad and they eat a little gluten, I give them a short lecture about how any amount of gluten can cause longterm consequences. I’m sure they think I should mind my own business. I don’t care. If I help one young adult consider the damaging effects of a chicken nugget and choose a gluten-free burger instead, it’s worth a few eye rolls. Celiac Disease

Courtesy of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

Would I Eat Gluten If I Didn’t React Horribly? first appeared on Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Christmas Vegetable Tree

Appetizers for an Allergic Foodie

Flashback Tuesday: I’m enjoying the holidays with my family as I hope you are. This post appeared last year. The appetizers from my friend’s party were a hit. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays to you and your family.

It took another Amy–my friend Amy Brown–to teach me it’s okay to serve your nonallergic guests allergy-friendly foods.

Maybe it comes from having a husband who has yet to embrace gluten-free, dairy-free foods (to be fair, he doesn’t have to) that makes me think everyone else will feel the same way he does: Not going to try it if  I don’t have to.

So I often go to the trouble of serving “regular” food at our social gatherings. A few years ago when we moved into our new home, I hosted a potluck open house where everyone brought an appetizer.  As you might guess, there was very little for me to eat.

Then last year I hosted a holiday cookie exchange. I figured this was a fun way for my kids and my husband to get treats without me having to touch a stick of butter or sift flour. Ironically, it was over Christmas break last year that my younger son realized gluten was making him sick and my oldest son gave up everything dairy.

So when this holiday season came around,  I decided to skip hosting a party. With our sons home, I just didn’t want to have foods around that they couldn’t enjoy.  And frankly, I didn’t want to do all the work of preparing both allergy-free and regular foods.

Then I went to Amy Brown’s party.  Take a look at this table of yummy appetizers:

Delicious appetizers for an allergic foodie

Photo by Amy Brown

 

The food was incredible!  Amy and her husband, Brandon, follow a “Whole30” diet, eliminating grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes. This made many of the appetizers free of  gluten, soy, and dairy!  They did include some macaroni and cheese the kids devoured and deviled eggs that my husband devoured.

My favorite appetizer was incredibly simple: A BLT on a toothpick!

Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoe Appetizer

Photo by Amy Brown

 

Then there were these adorable olive penguins.

Gluten-free treats

And the zucchini wrapped around sausage with pesto and olive oil were fabulous.

Delicious sausage/zuchinnin wraps

Photo by Amy Brown

 

Amy also made several types of dips, including one with eggplant and red peppers that she found at She Cooks . . . He Cleans  (recipe follows). I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but I’ll be making this dip soon.  I eat a lot of veggies and hummus, so–cover your ears, Amy–I wasn’t that excited to try the black bean hummus. But I did, and it was delish!

And who wouldn’t want to eat their veggies when presented this way?

Christmas Vegetable Tree

Amy also served the gluten-free crackers on a separate plate and labeled them!

None of the guests seemed to notice the appetizers were “different” or “allergy-free” or “gluten-free.”  The food was just good . . . actually, better than good.  And oh so cute.

Roasted Egg Plant and Red Pepper Dip

(Note this recipe includes sesame seeds)

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (to start with…)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • juice of one lemon
  • lots more good extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut the eggplant up into 1-inch square pieces.  (Before cutting, I like to take off some of the skin in stripes around the eggplant.  Up to you.)   Cut the red bell peppers into 1 inch strips.  Toss the eggplant, peppers, and garlic in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and several grindings of pepper.

Spread the vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for 35-45 minutes, tossing once during cooking, until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Place the vegetables in a food processor; add the tahini, cumin, cayenne, lemon juice, and another glug (or two) of olive oil.  Process in pulses until blended.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (Try to avoid over-processing or it will become paste-like in texture.)

Drizzle with more olive oil on top, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Appetizers for an Allergic Foodie originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic FoodieRoasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip originally appeared at She Cooks . . . He Cleans.  Thank you to Amy Brown for sharing these treats and photos.

Communion wafers must have some wheat to be valid
Aside

Communion Hosts for Celiacs: Yes or No?

Communion wafers must have some wheat to be valid

This Easter Sunday I will not be taking the communion wafer. Yes, not even the low-gluten host. It’s not a decision I make lightly.

According to the Catholic church, the wafer must contain some wheat to be valid (“bread of life”) and a low-gluten host is acceptable for celebrating the Eucharist because it has some wheat. A non-gluten wafer is not valid. For more information, go to the Catholic Celiac Society.*

For several years I did take the low-gluten host and I didn’t notice any reaction. I figured the wafer contained such a minuscule amount of gluten that I could get by.

I was wrong.

Some of us with celiac disease, like my son, suffer recognizable symptoms after eating a crumb of gluten. Other people like me have so many other food allergies we often aren’t sure what food caused what reaction, or they don’t have noticeable reactions. But even if we don’t react with a stomach ache or a rash or lethargy, that tiny bit of gluten can wreak havoc on our bodies and lead to longterm healthcare issues.

Having a little bit of gluten every Sunday is like an alcoholic having a sip of vodka every Sunday.

Watch this video from Dr. Tom O’Bryan, a celiac disease expert.

I know many Catholics with celiac disease who will celebrate the Eucharist with a low-gluten host this Sunday, but I won’t be one of them. Will you?

*In 2003, the Vatican did say Catholics with celiac disease can celebrate the Eucharist by wine only, so Catholics have that option.

Breaking Up with Dr. Oz

Breaking Up with Dr. Oz

Dear Dr. Oz,

After thousands of afternoon dates, it’s time for us to go our separate ways.

You have lost my respect.

Like Dorothy who discovers the wizard is a fake, I have discovered you, Dr. Oz, are not the wizard of medicine you claim to be.

YOU CALLED A GLUTEN-FREE DIET A SCAM ON NATIONAL TV!  Millions and millions of people heard you! Including a few of my family members who think my celiac disease is all in my head. Thanks, Dr. Oz.

The audience even started cheering as if to say, “I knew all those gluten naysayers were idiots! Give me a slice of pizza now!”  Yes, you tried to cover up your error by saying “there are a lot of folks who have big time problem with gluten so I don’t have a problem with people who don’t like eating gluten foods…”

Don’t LIKE eating gluten foods! Huh?  I would LOVE to eat gluten foods–it’s my body that won’t let me!  Coincidentally I got “glutened” at a restaurant last night. Imagine a brick making its way through your digestive system. Today, I tried to run some errands, but I was so lethargic I was afraid to drive. It will be at least a week until I feel normal again.

This, Dr. Oz, is what living with CELIAC DISEASE is like. It is not a scam. Is is not BS. And when people hear a doctor call a gluten-free diet a scam, you hurt people like me and my son and the one in 133 of us with celiac disease. Not to mention the thousands and thousands of others with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

That is why I am breaking up with you, Dr. Oz.

Don’t even think of sending me flowers.

Breaking Up with Dr. Oz” originally appeared at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.

Hate When I Poison My Kids

Recently I gave my two sons food that made them sick. I mailed the youngest in college cereal that was not gluten-free and served my oldest dairy.

I poisoned them!

Gluten is Poison for SomeAfter five years of gluten- and dairy-free cooking and shopping, you’d think I’d have this celiac/allergy thing down by now. But nope, I still make mistakes.

Now my “kids” are young men and can fend for themselves. They are certainly capable of reading labels. However, I’ve been their mother much longer than they’ve been coping with celiac disease and a dairy allergy and they trust me. If I mail them a college care package, they’ll believe the food is safe. If I put the plate on the table, they won’t question whether they can eat it.

Well, they used to trust me.

Until I poisoned them.

A while back Costco carried 24-oz packages of Udi’s Natural Artisan Granola and the packaging said “soy free, wheat free, dairy free.”  I assumed it was the same Udi’s gluten-free granola I always ate. But I should have noted “wheat free” versus “gluten free.”  I didn’t. That is until just this week when I was eating it myself and I realized the oats weren’t certified gluten-free oats. Well, that explains the weeks College Boy was doubled over in pain. Oh a mother’s guilt.

Then there was the memorable Thanksgiving meal. We ordered a turkey, sides and gravy from a trusted source. I ensured–over and over again–that the food didn’t contain gluten. I forgot to ask if the gravy had dairy.  Poor kid worked the night shift and spent Thanksgiving evening in the bathroom. The gravy was made with heavy cream!

And these lentils  . . .  how did I miss the red wording: Contains Dairy.

Dairy in ingredients

If you’re a parent, you understand parental guilt. It’s okay if I eat the wrong thing, but it’s never okay for me to feed my kids gluten/dairy-containing food.

Luckily, my boys have forgiven me, though I’ve noticed them checking ingredient lists more.

That’s probably a good thing.

__________________________

If  you like this post, you may also like:

Celiac Disease Wasn’t a Part of the College Plan

I’m a Picky Eater and Proud of It!

Hate When I Poison My Kids first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

What Came First? Soy or Egg Allergy?

Something wonderful happened the other day.

I ate an egg for breakfast and I didn’t get sick.

The next day, I ate another egg.  Again, I didn’t get sick.

This is a big event in this allergic foodie’s life.  For over five years, I haven’t eaten eggs, or foods containing even the slightest amount of egg, because I’ll react with stomach pains and other unpleasant symptoms.  Then a few weeks ago, while perusing Whole Foods, I came across Soy Free Organic Eggs from Chino Valley Ranchers.  The gray and orange package read: LARGE BROWN EGGS FROM FREE RANGE HENS FED A CERTIFIED ORGANIC SOY FREE DIET.

Chino Valley Ranchers Soy Free Eggs

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, soy is my worst allergen; I’ll react immediately and the horrible symptoms will last for days, sometimes weeks. It’s crossed my mind that it may not be the eggs making me ill, but rather the soy the hens ate and passed onto me, but I had no way of proving it.

Until now.

I’ve eaten the entire carton and not one symptom.

Thrilled about eggs being back in my diet–Can you tell I’m really excited?–I called the family-owned company in Arcadia, California. David Will, the general manager, was appreciative to get the positive feedback. He said the soy-free eggs were a direct response to the company receiving so many calls from customers asking for eggs without soy. Proof that some companies actually listen to those of us with serious food allergies!  Just go over to The Gluten-Free Dude’s blog to see how many companies don’t.

David went on to say it took seven years for a nutritionist to come up with certified organic feed that could equal the nutritional values in soybeans.  Then a third-party laboratory tested and verified that absolutely no soy or soy protein could be detected. The company website has lots of great info if you want to know more.

I did find another company called Grass Fed Traditions that produce and test soy-free eggs (the chickens are fed coconut), but they are mail order only and prices are extremely high. If you know of another egg farmer that offers certified soy-free eggs, let me know.

What about other allergies?

Explaining to David that I, along with most of my readers, have multiple food allergies and/or celiac disease, I asked specifically what the hen’s feed contained.  About 50 to 60 percent is corn; corn is one of my allergies—a one on a scale of four–but I do not react to these eggs at all.  I’d be curious to find out of if those of you with more serious corn allergies do react to eggs–these or others.  The feed also contains field peas, sunflower meal, flax seed, alfalfa, along with grains and seeds.

Of course, the mention of grains threw up a red flag.  David assured me that although the eggs are not tested for gluten, the chickens only eat miniscule amounts of wheat, if any.  As those of us with celiac disease know, eggs are considered gluten-free by the celiac disease medical experts, and many bloggers and gluten-free cookbook authors encourage us to include eggs in our GF diet.  Of course, a reaction to eggs is possible if hens eat mainly a diet of wheat and barley, but this isn’t a concern with the chickens clucking around Chino Valley Ranchers.

chickens

So eggs are back in my life, and I’m one happy allergic foodie. In fact, I’m thinking about making an omelet with green peppers and onions and mushrooms for dinner tonight.

If it’s ever crossed your mind that maybe it’s your soy allergy making you react to eggs, try these soy-free eggs and let me know what you think.  I’m sure the kind folks at Chino Valley Ranchers would like to know, too.