When Ella was diagnosed with T1D there was so much to learn. We went to see the nutritionist, memorized carb counts, and learned how to make dosing decisions. The health coach from our insurance said we needed to get her tested for Celiac since they are both autoimmune and Celiac is often seen with Type 1. “What?” I thought “You can’t be serious. She has none of the typical symptoms. She can’t be. She already has two autoimmune conditions. We don’t want a third! Fine, I’ll take her to do the blood work if it’ll get you to stop asking me about it.” Turned out they were right and not all people with a gluten allergy experience it the same way (does that sound familiar at all?).
Suddenly go to low snacks like peanut butter crackers were no longer an option. I cleaned a lot of food out of my pantry that first day. We struggled with having to be that “difficult customer” who had to ask for accommodations when we’d go to a restaurant. Grocery shopping became a chore because all the labels had to be checked and I was surprised to find out how many things have wheat-based binders in them. Why does licorice need wheat? Seriously?
Luckily for us, gluten free options are more readily available and better labeled than ever before and most of them don’t taste bad but, they are not cheap. Gluten free bread is at least five times the cost of a normal loaf of bread and it’s half the size. The more economical route is to choose items that are more of a whole food and less processed. This is not only more inexpensive but healthier as well. Eating at home is much easier than dining out until you know where to go. Most places have an allergy menu or they have GF listed right on their regular menu. Ella always tells waitstaff that her gluten free request is “allergy not preference” and people are usually very willing to accommodate and usually tell you a story about someone they love who also has Celiac disease. (Pro tip… if you want french fries ask if they have a dedicated fryer so your fries don’t get cross contaminated by all the breaded items)
A co-worker of mine who is also Celiac shared the Facebook group “Gluten Free Support Group of NW Ohio” with me and it was a life saver when Ella was first diagnosed. The app “Find Me Gluten Free” is also awesome and gives you lists of restaurants near you that have GF options or menus. This is especially helpful when you are traveling. Kroger has yummy individual GF cake options in the cooler and Organic Bliss Bakery in Sylvania makes amazing GF and vegan baked goods. I’m sure other places have them too but these are the two I’m most familiar with since I do the majority of my baking myself. Pizza Cat’s cauliflower crust pizza is also amazing and gluten free!
Ella may not be able to eat anything she wants anymore but with care and planning she can eat everything she needs to and find options for creating anything else. Having Celiac, much like having T1D, just means a shift in perspective and a little creativity and everything will fall in to place…
Most of the time.