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The ups, downs, and runarounds of Celiac Disease and food sensitivities

Archive for the tag “restaurants”

Travel… oh boy

Let’s just start with this little fact: I bought baby food. Not for a baby. For me. While this might sound super depressing, I am LOOKING FORWARD to eating vegetables on the go that I didn’t have to peel, slice, and cook until soft (or puree) myself (as I do on most days). I was alarmed to see the fruitlessness of a Google search for “Celiac baby food” and “certified gluten-free baby food,” so I’ve got my fingers and villi crossed that cross-contamination won’t be a factor. Ingredients are typically “carrots, water,” so can’t go wrong there. So, why did I buy baby food? Well, when you’re traveling as a tourist with food restrictions, there really aren’t a whole lot of options for on-the-go meals. Most granola bars are out due to dried fruit and nuts. Can’t do raw vegetables. I will be floored if I can eat 25% of the gluten-free meal on the plane (did you know that you can only place one dietary preference request on airplanes? So it’s either gluten-free or vegan, and with the utterly random list of foods I avoid I am keeping expectations low). However. Some fresh fruits can be purchased and peeled! I’m packing packets of sardines, salmon and tuna in water. Rice cakes, of course. Seaweed snacks made with olive oil. I’m getting used to eating steamed vegetables cold, but I’d rather do baby food than carry mushy cooked vegetables in my backpack while sight-seeing. I may even pack a loaf of gluten- (et al.) free bread and veggie latkes in my carry-on luggage to throw in the freezer for the week. I’m a bit paranoid about fixing food in a shared kitchen, so my spatula, cutting board, and colander get to cross the ocean blue, too. Packing Herbamare (lovely salt/seasoning blend) and a few other dried herbs/spice blends. I’ve asked my host to purchase foil, parchment paper, plastic wrap, and disinfecting wipes. Oh and I invested in some Gluten Defense digestive enzymes (BTW be very careful with digestive enzymes- lots have barley!), which I will take at every meal. A member of the Celiac ranks gave me some Alka Seltzer and charcoal tablets for relief in the case of glutening. Trying not to think of pots and pans… How to avoid making oneself sick by freaking out about getting sick?? I may eat out while overseas, which is a bit of an oddity since I categorically do not eat out on the home turf anymore. I found an exclusively paleo restaurant at my destination, so no gluten would even enter the premises; my only concerns are eggs/nuts/raw veg, but it seems like the appropriate place to ask for a plain slab of meat and a side of cooked spinach. There’s also a little chain that makes onigiri, or Japanese triangular rice packs stuffed in seaweed; they are certified gluten-free by the German equivalent of GIG. I believe I may be able to avoid other food allergens with this chain as well, as the ingredient lists seem very succinct and made up of whole foods. Traveling in Germany with Celiac Disease sans other food issues looks to be pretty doable, as many stores carry brands like Schar. I don’t mean to be all my-fate-is-so-much-worse-than-yours, so I’ve strapped on my big girl panties and… bought baby food. DO WHAT ONE’S GOTTA DO, AMIRIGHT?

Clarification: If you have Celiac Disease and plan to travel, you do NOT need to resort to eating baby food. I have intolerances to corn, soy, casein, eggs, nuts, tomatoes, beans, etc…. as well as major digestive issues with any food that is not soft.

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“Making bread safe for Celiacs”

Now isn’t that a title to grab your attention? Hmm, I suppose I already do this, as I’ve made adaptations of several great gluten-free, vegan bread recipes (e.g. this and this). But this article is not focused on healing through dietary shifts; it’s about the big boys with the big dollars- PHARMA. While a part of me would love a pill to magically render my finicky guts capable of handling gluten, how would it affect my other newly developed food sensitivities? My bone density loss? Chronic fatigue? My antibody count is normal now, but these problems persist. And what of side-effects?

I will say that I would love to have a gluten-shield as back-up for situations such as the one I experienced 2 weeks ago. I was glutened at a GIG-trained cafe that I had proudly touted to all gluten-free friends as “the only place I can safely eat.” Well, now the number of places I can safely eat is zilch. I hesitate to name the restaurant because they really do try very hard to keep gluten-free items free from cross-contamination and they really do care. The run-down: a new employee made my gluten-free wrap in the gluten-free prep area, but with a tomato wheat wrap instead of a gluten-free brown rice wrap. I was in a hurry and felt overly confident as the cashier chatted with me about her sister’s severe gluten intolerance and the difficulties involved with avoiding gluten when dining out, and I really should have noted the color of the wrap before taking a large bite once in my car and on the road. At least I noticed after the first bite, but the deed was done, swallowed, sealed. I turned around and went back to the cafe, asking to see what the gluten-free wraps look like, thinking (PRAYING) perhaps they’d switched brands. Before anyone could take action, the prep girl slapped her forehead, exclaiming: “Oh I put your order on a wheat wrap by mistake!” Employee panic/mania/profuse apologies ensued, and I tried to stay as calm as possible (delaying the frenzied explosion of tears until back to the privacy of my car). They took my number and apologized some more, but I was crushed. In a matter of hours I was bloated, foggy-brained, and drained. The next day the owner called me to offer sincere apologies, as well as a gift card (which I sort of pushed off, but she insisted). She informed me that the kitchen had already rearranged gluten-free ingredients and foods in the kitchen area to avoid further confusion. I groggily told her I was concerned that the employee did not understand the poisonous nature of gluten for those with Celiac, but that I appreciated their effort to ascertain GIG training/certification (only place within 2 hours of me in any direction). I was also a bit miffed by the glutening of the gluten-free prep area (did they wipe down the surface on which she’d made my “gluten-free” wrap prior to preparing food for subsequent customers who requested the gluten-free prep area that day?). My insides are still not quite back to their norm, so I’ve gone back to the ever-popular diet of bland, low fiber food. I did have a moment of silliness and almost purchased a frozen gluten-free cheese enchilada yesterday (despite dairy and corn intolerance), but thank goodness the rational part of my brain vanquished the whims of my taste buds.

So yes, long story short, I would like a pill to take for the unpredictable world of eating out, but not for an everyday blanketing of my health issues.

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