The Clean Sweep
“Going gluten free” can be a tricky and intimidating challenge at first. Although there are more and more gluten free alternatives it’s still very important to understand how to go about it and what to watch out for. When my daughter was first diagnosed with Celiac disease we tried just feeding her gluten free variations while the rest of us ate as we normally would. It didn’t work for us. In fact, it didn’t take us long at all to decide that we would need to de-gluten our house and the whole family would join in a gluten free diet to support her healthy recovery.
Get that gluten out of my face!
If you’ve been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance or encouraged by a health care professional to remove gluten from your diet the first place to begin is with a…
Getting all the gluten-filled and gluten contaminated food out of there is the first and most important step. Start with the obvious stuff like breads and crackers that clearly say wheat on the packaging.
Anything made of or containing wheat, barley, bran, bulgur, malt, graham, faro, oats (unless specifically says gluten free), soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, (fermented wheat), rusk, rye, spelt, atta flour, and couscous are the obvious no-no’s.
Now really read the labels. Many times gluten/wheat isn’t obvious in the list of ingredients. However, according to food laws (http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/allergens/ucm106187.htm) if a food contains any of the top 8 food allergies it must be stated underneath the list of ingredients as an allergy warning. Even with this requirement there is still a chance that something has been contaminated with gluten during some stage of processing. The rule we follow is; when in doubt, do without!
Here’s a detailed list from celiac.com of some common (sometimes hard to pronounce) tricky ingredients that may naturally or artificially contain gluten. You’ll also find a list of iffy ingredients that may or may not contain gluten. If you aren’t sure about something, call the manufacturing company and ask.
Once all the gluten-filled food has been tossed or donated now it’s time to get rid of the gluten contaminated food. Things like peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise, and anything else that may have been used on wheat bread and then the knife that just spread it around dipped back in. That jar is now contaminated with gluten and can either be labeled and finished off by someone who isn’t gluten intolerant or thrown out. I know it’s hard to think of wasting all that food and money by throwing it away, but for your health’s sake do it (unless you can find someone who wants a half eaten jar of peanut butter).
Don’t just going through the food in the fridge and pantry; you must also clean the fridge and pantry. Using a sanitizing spray or wipes for counters, inside kitchen drawers, and pantry and refrigerator shelves will eliminate any accidental contamination. I like to use a mixture of white vinegar, water, and essential oils to clean and disinfect without harsh chemicals.
Disinfectant Cleaning Spray
Fill one spray bottle (16-24 oz) ¼ of the way with distilled white vinegar. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. Add 8-10 drops lemon or lemongrass essential oil and 5-8 drops rosemary essential oil. Shake well before using. If you’d like more info on the Doterra essential oils visit my website here.
Staying gluten free in a gluten-filled kitchen
If you’re living with roommates or for any other reason need to accommodate a split kitchen (gluten free and gluten) then here’s some good tips to follow:
Cross contamination- this will be your biggest concern if food with gluten is being prepared in the same kitchen as food that needs to be gluten free.
Designate a space in the kitchen where only gluten free food will be prepared. A specific portion of the counter and cutting boards that has been cleaned of any gluten and where you can make gluten free food without worrying so much about what touched the counter last. (It’s always a good idea to disinfect any cooking area before preparing your gluten free food though).
Buy some sealable plastic containers to store either your gluten free food or someone else’s gluten-filled food in. Even if something is prepared completely gluten free, if it shares the same space as gluten it can become contaminated. Put gluten free items up on shelves higher than gluten foods in fridge and pantry to prevent gluten particles from drifting down onto everything. Again a plastic container for anything that’s not sealed is safest.
When it comes to utensils and cookware, if it can’t be put in a hot dishwasher to thoroughly clean any gluten residue then you need to buy an unused one for gluten free foods only. Example: toaster, wooden spoons and cutting boards and any other porous dish that may absorb and trap gluten particles.
LABEL, LABEL, LABEL. There’s nothing worse than having a brand new jar of jelly only to have it contaminated with gluten. Take a sharpie and write on anything that needs to stay gluten free. This includes toasters, wood cutting boards, and anything else that can’t easily be washed.
Is it really that big of a deal? YES! Many people who have been diagnosed with Celiac or some form of gluten intolerance are asymptomatic. That means that they may not feel immediately sick to their stomach if their gluten free bread was cut with a knife that just cut a piece of wheat bread, but rest assured it is affecting you.
There are so many ways that gluten in a Celiac’s diet can affect them. From immediate affects like fatigue, stomach ache, diarrhea/constipation, mental fog and moodiness to long-term problems such as vitamin depletion (which can cause a host of unique issues such as calcium deficiency which promotes osteoporosis), reproductive/fertility complications, lactose intolerance, cancer, depression, and other serous neurological disabilities.
The good news is that if a purely gluten free diet is religiously followed many if not all of these complications can be avoided and in many cases reversed.