Here is Janelle’s personal story and answers to my list of gluten free questions for the Mary’s Gone Crackers contest.
What are your favorite restaurants? Are these different than before you followed the diet?
I never ate out much, I have always cooked. I have had to adjust almost every recipe I use and it was very overwhelming at first. I have finally gotten to the point that I feel like I can make all the things I used to make for my family but in a safe, gluten free way. We eat at Chipotle when we go out ten times for every once we go to another restaurant. They have safe food and have always been very accomodating with us.
Are food industry workers knowledgeable about Celiac disease?
We have had very good luck with this, seems every time we try a new place our server will either know a celiac or at least be familiar with gluten. Of course we have had the servers who say they understand and then bring the meal with a large slice of french bread on top or gravy over everything. Generally speaking things seem to be improving in this area.
Do you trust that the food you receive from restaurants/friends/family members is gluten free?
I trust the food I get from friends the most. They all seem to understand and really try hard, sometimes TOO hard, to help us out. I am suspect in restaurants when I don’t know what is going on in the kitchen unless our server is knowledgeable. When they come back and comment on something gluten related like having left off the croutons or whatever I am happy. It lets me know they really do get it. Family, sadly, I don’t trust at all. I have watched them sabotage us. I think they are offended we don’t eat their cookies or pies. I have even had them lie to me that something didn’t have gluten when I clearly watched them add a gluten filled ingredient! I think it is denial, they may have the problem, too, but don’t want to know. They would rather be sick than have to take the trouble to be gluten free.
What were some things you believed about Celiac disease that have proven false?
I was depressed for at least 3 months thinking we would have to give up so many of our favorites. I have found that replacements are either available, or can be prepared, for almost every item. OK, I still haven’t found good beer! But otherwise I think the food we eat now is actually better than what we ate Pre-Celiac.
What precautions do you take when eating at family and friends’ houses?
We make sure they are aware of the situation so they understand why we don’t eat everything. Where it is possible, like at a children’s party, I try to find out the menu ahead of time and replace the items they will serve that we can’t eat. I keep cupcakes in the freezer for the kids to take to birthday parties, I also keep slices of baked pizza frozen so they can be microwaved. Seems like every kids party has pizza! Otherwise we just eat what we know is GF, enjoy the company of our friends, and if we leave hungry we eat again later!
What is the biggest difficulty with having Celiac Disease?
Travel. We are pretty good at it now, but handling all of the meals when you may not even have access to a grocery store isn’t easy. We have learned what types of foods are safe at what types of restaurants. Sushi is always a good choice… we carry our own soy sauce. Planning is the key. We always make sure we have food with us unless we are sure we will be in an area that will have GF foods available.
What are the foods you missed the most?
Cookies. It took me a while to get good at making them. And pizza, of course. Now that there are frozen crusts that are pretty good that is not such a problem even when we don’t have time to make one ourselves. Beer is still a problem. GF beer is just too sweet!
Does your significant other/friends eat gluten free with you?
I am actually the non-Celiac in my family. I gave up gluten when everyone else had to. It is easier to maintain a gluten free home than to worry if there is cross-contamination. I don’t cheat, either! Even when I go out alone or with friends I eat gluten-free. I won’t make my family do something that I won’t do myself.
If you initially did not follow the gluten free diet. What made you change your mind? n/a
Has Celiac Disease affected aspects of your life other than your diet and health?
It has changed the way I live in many ways. I spent about the first three months on the computer trying to get the information I needed to get everyone healthy and follow the GF lifestyle. And I find I am still on the computer at least a couple hours a day now. Part of it is still research, some for recipes, but now part of it is sharing my information with others via blog responses and my own new recipe blog. I have made friends through the GF community and I share online with them as well. I am more outgoing with people. I have had to be to make sure they understood what we were dealing with (like in restaurants.)
Why did you start your blog? What are your goals with the blog?*
I started my blog “Living(Gluten)Free.blogspot.com” to share my recipes with friends. I got lots and lots of requests and rather than continue to send them via email or snail-mail, I decided I would add them to the blog. I will continue to add recipes as I have time and I hope to put it all on a disk one day for my daughters to use when they are cooking for themselves. All three of them have Celiac disease.
What are the most common topics on the blog?*
My blog is all recipes. I occasionally add a short story if it is related to the recipe. This is for my girls, sort of like scrapbooking! I want to spend more time on it, make it a lot better, but right now time is limited so I just do what I can.