Summer Eatin’ Tips

I wrote this article for a local newspaper a couple years ago but the tips stay true to this day.  Enjoy!

Summertime conjures up thoughts of barbeques in backyards, picnics over the 4th of July and company parties. Food items that are often served at these functions can be quite frightening for someone who is gluten free: hamburger and hot dog buns, pasta salads and many desserts are just a few to list. Here are some tips for eating gluten free yet enjoying the summertime festivities!

First, find out what will be served. If it’s pulled pork, find out if the BBQ sauce will be on it, if there was a marinade, etc. Hamburgers could have seasonings in them that have a wheat product as a filler. Hot dogs may not always be safe to eat and you may need to call the manufacturer. Finding out what will be served, and doing your homework, will make eating so much easier. It’s always a good idea to ask and plan ahead!

Second, bring your own. If buns will be part of the meal, bring gluten free buns. Udi’s makes a great gluten free hamburger and hot dog bun. If you aren’t sure about salads being served, bring a small portion for yourself.

Third, watch contamination. That knife that is in the mayo may have just been on a “normal” bun. It may be a good idea to bring some condiments that you know are safe.   Also ask that your hamburger or hot dog be cooked in a totally separate area on the grill as cross contamination can occur there as well.

Fourth, ask about any marinades or spices that might be on the food. Many marinades use wheat as a thickener and spices sometimes use wheat products as a filler. These hidden sources of wheat can be a concern. Just as to see the labels to make sure they are ok.

If your host or hostess has told you “not to worry about it”, just remember to have a back up plan. A good snack in your bag like Glutino’s pretzels or Nut Thins chips will be a great idea to keep you on track with your gluten free diet. You can also bring along something that you know will be ok for you to eat such as Mission Tortilla Chips and a jar of salsa.

Just remember: it’s ok to ask. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself this summer by asking what is in the foods you are about to put into your body. Then after you’ve asked, enjoy your summertime foods!

Living FREE

We live in a world that is gluten free, peanut free, dairy free, etc to accommodate for the differing allergies, intolerances and autoimmune diseases that we see in the world.  Gluten free has become a buzz word and everyone thinks that if it doesn’t have wheat, it’s safe for consumption.

Not the case.

Last August the FDA created a mandate that said that anything labeled gluten free must be 20ppm or less of gluten.  While I considered it a win, a step for those of us that need to be gluten free, it’s not enough.

Here is how I see it:  if something was labeled peanut free but still had 20ppm or less of peanut dust in it, it wouldn’t be labeled peanut free, right?  I mean, if someone ate something that was labeled this way and had a peanut allergy it would still cause a reaction.  Probably death.

So, why is it good enough for something that is labeled “gluten free” to have SOME gluten in it?  It’s not.

It’s time for gluten free to mean that.  FREE of gluten.  Zero, zilch, nada.  A little bit can still hurt someone who is Celiac (or has a wheat allergy or intolerance) and for a Celiac, just 1/64th of a teaspoon can cause damage.  Damage that could take months to heal.

So Celiacs, let’s stand together and show these companies, and the FDA, that gluten free must be FREE of that that makes us sick!

Rant over.

Gluten Free…FOREVER!

I was at a local restaurant with a friend of mine.  It’s actually a good restaurant chain, Red Robin, and has great gluten free buns along with high standards for keeping me (and others) safe when dining there.

It was actually an accident that Craig chose this restaurant for lunch and when I asked for an allergen menu he stated “not a great place to choose to eat.”  I reassured him that it was a great choice and that they had gluten free buns and that they were good.  The part of the experience that settled in my brain was the server’s words when she saw the allergen menu:  “We have a wheat allergy today?”  Craig was quick with a response and said “WE have a wheat allergy everyday.”  The server saw his point and scooted away.

I find that this statement bothered me in a few ways. First, who was the “we” she was talking about? Did she have a mouse in her pocket?

Second, a wheat allergy/gluten intolerance/Celiac disease is an everyday thing for me. It’s not a “today I will eat GF, tomorrow I’m having bread!” kinda thing. I live with this 24-7.

It bothers me that people sometimes take it lightly, that it’s a flippant thing. This is an important, life altering lifestyle. Something that I have to think about every time I grocery stop because items like salad dressing and spices can have wheat. It’s something that I have to think about when my friends want to go out to eat. It’s an everyday, all day, rest of my life DISEASE.

So, I’m not gluten free just yesterday or today. I am gluten free…forever.