The Gluten Free Perspective

The Gluten Free Perspective

The Gluten Free Perspective

I’ve been gluten free over 18 months now. I struggle asking for my meals to be prepared in a specific way. It’s uncomfortable being the one who has to ask if an item being served at a party has gluten in it. Despite having seen first hand how damaging gluten is to my body, sometimes I can’t shake the feeling that others think I’ve jumped on to a fad diet.

We bake cookies for our children that we cannot eat.  Then we wash our hands and utensils in hot water several times to avoid cross-contamination. We go to work even when we’ve been glutened because sometimes it takes days for us to get over the reaction. Some of us struggle with weight gain even if we exercise regularly, because the packaged gluten free foods at the market and on restaurant menus are high-carb substitutes. There is no medication to alleviate our reactions. With seasonal allergies, I can take an antihistamine. When gluten enters my system, I experience flu-like symptoms for as long as a week.

Not long ago a sympathetic friend said, “Gosh. It must take a lot of energy to constantly monitor what’s going into your mouth.” She’s so right. I’d not thought of it that way, but her understanding moved me to tears. Some days I bury deep the reminder that I need to eat like this for the rest of my life.

So, at the risk of sounding like I’m on a soap box, I’d like to share with you (on behalf of other awkwardly gluten-free folks out there) how you can help us navigate the issue.

1) Restaurants: Please train your staff to know what a gluten sensitivity or allergy is. Hearing a waiter say, “I don’t know if there’s gluten in it, but you should be fine.” is not good enough.

2) Friends: Please don’t pity us or say things like, “Wow. I’d never be able to be gluten-free.” It’s not a choice we make. If you discovered gluten makes you ill, you’d make the necessary adjustments like we have to. We are not amazing; we’re defending our bodies every day and it’s difficult.

3) Co-workers: Please don’t bring in food as gifts. We have to say no and we feel bad.  No offense – but I don’t want to spend hours in the bathroom or fight off a migraine headache because I took a bite of your amazing looking brownies.

If you or anyone you know would benefit from more details of my story, click the Gluten Free blog category. Be sure to check out some of my favorite Gluten Free recipes and articles on Pinterest, too.

Dana Byers and her family are passionate about adoption and online ministry, and they sold all they owned in 2007 to live a mobile lifestyle overseas and expand online ministry practices globally.  She’s the author of “The Art of Online Ministry” and recently moved to Oklahoma to become the Community Pastor for Church Online. All opinions shared here are expressly her own.



2 Responses to “The Gluten Free Perspective”

  1. Joseph Iliff (@SeekOutWisdom) October 31, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Dana, my wife and I have been gluten free for 3 years now. We determined that gluten was making her sick and decided to replace it in our diet with other things. Many people we’ve talked to about a gluten free diet approach it as avoiding certain foods, but we’ve found it to be more about replacing gluten foods and ingredients with something else. And, we’ve found which restaurants can handle preparing gluten free meals for when we eat out. My wife is sick much less often than before our GF diet, but we are also eliminating even more grains, trying a paleo or caveman diet. Thus far, the results are promising.

    For anyone who wants to prepare something for a GF friend or relative, several major brands make a GF version of their product. Most major supermarkets now stock GF cake and cookies mixes, noodles, and meal helpers right next to the regular versions. Also check the natural/organic food section and the section for diabetic foods. Many of those products will be GF. And basic things like meat, rice, and vegetables are likely fine. If one carefully washes dishes and utensils so that they do not contaminate the food, it does not have to be hard to prepare a GF meal for someone else. Just read some labels and be as clean as possible.

  2. Erik Fisher (@ErikJFisher) October 31, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    My wife has Celiac, and was diagnosed back around 2008 or 2009. I am still baffled by places we shop or eat that have not accommodated gluten free products or options as it has grown in popularity as a fad, as well as a documented concern.

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