The festive season is upon us and many of us will be headed home for the holidays, looking forward to home cooked meals with family and friends. In my case I am very excited about catching up with close family and friends whom I haven’t seen in almost a year.
As a celiac you never let you guard down. Wherever there is eating there must be caution and at Christmas time there tends to be a whole lot of things for eating. It can be overwhelming where there is so much going on that accidents can happen so to avoid any of that nasty stuff I decided to write this post.
When you don’t live life as a celiac (or as a honourary celiac like John ) you aren’t used to being super duper careful with everything your buy and prepare. Once you have lived with celiac disease for a while it becomes second nature to question the gluten content of everything. If this is not your world you perhaps need a little help in keeping your loved ones safe. If you are preparing a meal for a celiac friend or family member this season then you may find these tips useful.
- Find out why you need to read articles like this. If you understand what celiac disease is, what it’s like to live gluten free and what happens when celiacs’ accidentally eat gluten it will help you to understand why you need to be so careful.
- Never assume it’s gluten free. When your realise that gluten really can hide in almost anything you will be a lot less likely to just assume something is gluten free without checking. You need to be aware that gluten can hide in unlikely places such as flavourings and emulsifiers and products can be contaminated by gluten containing grains made on the same machinery. Yes, seriously.
- Ensure every single ingredient is gluten free and safe for celiacs whether this means checking labels, calling companies to confirm or asking your favourite celiac, be sure that all your ingredients are not only gluten free for safe for celiacs.
- Clean everything you plan to use. If your kitchen isn’t 100% gluten free then there is always the possibility of cross contamination. Scrub all of your surfaces, utensils, pots/pans etc before you begin and don’t use anything you haven’t cleaned.
- Only cook gluten free. When cooking for a celiac please don’t cook whole wheat pasta at the same time. Cross contamination is a serious issue and by focusing on only the gluten free meal at hand will lessen the likelihood of any slip ups such as stirring the rice and pasta with the same spoon.
- Don’t use already opened condiments. This is a common mistake which can be easily avoided. Don’t use a butter, jam,mustard or spread which you have already used (if it’s the type where you use a knife or spoon to spread) as there could be residual gluten from a knife or spoon you were using to butter your toast.
- Buy a new sponge. You wouldn’t use the same sponge to clean the toilet and then your dishes because you would probably get sick. The same goes for cleaning up for a celiac. If you buy a fresh sponge to clean all of your dishes with then there will be no cross contamination worries.
- Expect a nervous celiac. If your celiac friend is asking you a hundred questions or watching over you like a hawk, undertand that it’s nothing personal. We rarely trust anyone to cook for us and it can be a pretty terrifying experience for us. When we aren’t the ones completely in control of preparing and cooking what we eat there is a risk that cross contamination will occur and in turn we will get sick. Forgive our paranoia and anxiety, it’s natural considering the circumstances.