The gluten-free diet craze has officially reached the fever tones. Chances are, you know someone in your life who has jumped on the GF bandwagon and has taken his cabinets of flour, pasta and other refined carbohydrates for alleged digestive comfort or hoping for a simple weight loss. But behind the mod diet books and the list of celebrities who make the gluten-free lifestyle fun (Kourtney Kardashian), you see one percent of the population with much more serious concerns. We speak of celiac sufferers.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which gluten (including crumbs) can damage the small intestinal mucosa. When that happens, the body can not absorb the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
I know something about the disease, because my friend, a 26-year-old boy who ate baguettes for lunch, drank a beer for dinner, and made a good pastry for dessert, was diagnosed with the disease a year ago. This means that his body had been burdened with pasta and pizza for 25 years and would now take several years to recover. TBH, I'm not sure if his small intestine will ever be 1
When we got the message, he was completely sucked. And it was not the sad hole in his croissant-craving soul that would disappoint him the most. It was the fact that it is not easy to have a lifestyle where you can not trust the food around you. Gluten. Is. All over. Often he hides as a binder and lurks perhaps in the breakfast sausage that you ate this morning, in the salad that you ate for lunch, and also in the meatballs of last night. The day he found out, I swore that we would make fun of this damned thing and that I would help lessen the burden – which meant a total lifestyle change for me as well.
As a food writer, I knew that I first had to change my way of thinking. My willpower to avoid gluten-packed foods wavers at the sight of a sexy bowl of fettuccine bolognese passing in the hands of a waitress. But becoming a celiac was not a choice for my friend, for someone who did unimaginable things to eat from this heavenly pasta. So I dropped the donuts and we drove to the races to look for ways to adapt to the rigorous new lifestyle.
I changed my life when he changed his
. I exchanged my make-up and soaps for strictly gluten-free products – or otherwise, not to kiss him (!!). I always brush my teeth twice (plus mouthwash) when I nibble on something with traces of gluten before I see him. I check the labels of everything we think about buying . I'm constantly researching new gluten-free snacks made in a gluten-free facility. I never order a beer around him (though I still love you, IPAs) and I always beat him good when he asks the waiters what gluten-free options there are – he does not have to explain his situation for the 100th time
is also great for families and friends at home. It's annoying to have to explain to a host on arrival that you do not want to touch their damn baked Brie, since all the gluten-filled crackers are immersed in it. Or, worse, you can not risk eating your prepared main ingredient, the chicken pot pie, because the broth may contain traces of gluten. I know he probably feels ridiculous and frustrated and repeats it over and over again. Here I can happily put into action and (in layman terms) explain to those who do not yet know the extremes of the diet.
15 ways I support my BF on the GF Train
in her A-play every second of her life, but the people around her can help make it feel less like a crazy vortex help. Here is a list of things I have done to help my friend who are not as obvious as ordering a bagel at brunch.
1. Check gluten-free labels for snacks. Yes, I know that this is obvious, but it is extremely important that you always use a fast Google product to make sure that the company is not in danger of cross-contamination in its product facilities.
2. Buy new cutting boards.
… and pots, pans, tea towels and rinse sponges that are far removed from gluten. You can even buy a basket and mark it with "GF" to make sure these items are never near breadcrumbs.
3. Rearrange the kitchen.
You must ensure that no loose flour falls from the shelves into the cooking areas or worktops. In that sense, it may be wise to give away your all-purpose flour and opt for tapioca, almonds, coconut, and arrow roots instead.
4. Get an instant pot.
As if you needed another reason to love the popular gadget! We swear by the Instant Pot because it's so easy not to put the gluten particle problems in the oven at risk. People are not out here, scrubbing their stoves so often that the flour from last week's baked chicken tender could still circulate in these convection openings.
5. Be vigilant on dates nights.
When you go to restaurants, make sure your server (and all the kitchen staff) knows that this is medical and not just about carbohydrate cutting. But avoid restaurants if you are afraid of cross-contamination, as this chance is often great.
6. From gluten-free sweets.
If the bakery is not completely gluten-free, a GF croissant should be banned, as cross-contamination is almost inevitable.
7. Skip tortilla chips and French fries.
Although these foods themselves may not contain gluten, they were probably fried in the same fryer as the breaded onion rings or flour tortilla chimichangas.
8. Avoid soy.
I was surprised when I found out that soy products are not as good as GF. While most soy products are technically gluten-free, tofu is often breaded, and this soy sauce is definitely banned (thank god for coconut-amino).
9. Avoid fruits that are often coated with soy wax.
Organic products should be used without wax. The protective layer could contain gluten.
10. It's okay to think things over.
Check the details in all the hefty ingredient lists. Everything from sausages (which can be held together by gluten) to bottled dressings, cookware, hot chocolate mix and chocolate can be risky.
11. Embrace a gluten-free diet.
If your loved one needs to be gluten-free, it's in your best interest, if you are, at least near you.
12. Become kings and queens preparing meals.
When traveling, it is a must to bring a container filled with gluten-free food. You never know when it's too far from a kitchen that can make a 100 percent GF bowl.
13. Help ward off comic ridiculousness .
The masses can assume that they are just another self-diagnosed gluten avoider. Be there with the facts to support them.
14. Fighting flying flour.
Maybe I'm going crazy here, but I do not even like getting a foothold in a pizza shop or a bakery with super-dense quarters. I'm worried that he'll be able to eat flour from the air in a pizzeria, and even that can cause problems.
15. Provide yourself with delicious food that you can eat.
He who has celiac disease should not feel disadvantaged. Buy corn tortillas for epic breakfast steaks, use tapioca flour while baking and always have a arrowroot on hand to thicken soups and stews. If in doubt, you can rely on this super-helpful gluten-free swap guide.
As his partner, I find it important to help others to ignore the disease less. No, celiac disease is not fatal, as we usually think of severe allergies like a peanut allergy. I would never compare the two. However, ignoring celiac disease can lead to a life with severe gastrointestinal symptoms and a much higher risk for both non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and small bowel cancer. If left untreated (which you do not do now, right ?!), there are other possible side effects that may linger (very quietly), depression, anxiety and daily tiredness.
But just like anything out there, habits will form after the diet, and the not-so-simple lifestyle becomes second nature. You can also thank "for fun" with all gluten skippers as the demand for GF products has grown so much that grocery stores have different courses – some of which you will discover with a few taste tests (and confirmation that they are produced in a gluten-free facility) are as good as the real thing.