Glutened

Well, it’s official. I’ve been glutened. And I know for sure this time what got me and how. And it’s my own fault. And I’m pissed.

There have been a few times since I was diagnosed that I suspected a gluten reaction, but I could never prove it so I had to consider the fact that perhaps gluten wasn’t the culprit. I mean, all people get stomach aches. Even non-celiacs. So of course I could still feel sick for other reasons. And for nine months I was pregnant, so who was to say what was celiac and what was the changing body and growing baby of a pregnant lady. Well now I know. And I’m not impressed.

Last Thursday we ordered sushi. When I go to restaurants I am diligent about stating, “I have celiac disease and cannot have anything with gluten. Please let the kitchen know when placing my order.” At my ‘go-to’ restaurants this is always welcomed and responded to with great courtesy and respect for my food and my disease. But for some reason when I order over the phone, when I’m not looking someone in the eyes, this conversation feels less safe. And so I didn’t say anything. I just placed our group order.

BIG MISTAKE. HUGE MISTAKE.

I should have self advocated.
I should have stated my needs.
I should have requested the sushi to be made with clean gloves.
I should have asked for it to be cut with a clean knife.
I should have stated, “I have celiac disease.”

I should have….

But I didn’t. I sat down to my dinner and started to enjoy, when part way through I noticed it. A chunk of my friends tempura from her shrimp tempura roll was sitting hauntingly on my spicy tuna roll.

I stopped. I stared. I pouted. And I wondered what to do next. I’d already eaten some of it so I was going to get sick either way.

Or maybe I wouldn’t. I don’t know what my reaction is like. Maybe a little cross contamination isn’t enough to make me sick. Maybe I won’t get sick at all. I’ll just not eat the piece that touched the tempura. Everything else should be fine.

Right?

Wrong.

And now, four days later, I’m still sick.

So, people often ask – what happens when you eat gluten?

Within an hour my stomach started to hurt. Luckily I slept through the night o.k. but when I woke up I was still exhausted. The exhaustion continues, and the stomach ache got worse. A mix of nausea and straight up pain. Like knives moving around through my guts, stabbing and slicing as they go. I bloated like I’m 5 months pregnant again and am in and out of the washroom (I’ll leave those details out). And I got depressed. Irrationally cranky. Crying. A lot. Partially because I’m mad. Mad at myself, and mad at this disease. Mad that this can keep happening to me if/when I’m not careful. Mad that a little cross contamination does have major consequences. Mad that I was finally starting to relax and live normally again and now I’m terrified for the upcoming trips we have where I once again lose control of my food and am forced to play restaurant roulette with my guts. Again.

Oh. Did I mention this is the 3rd time I’ve been glutened in the past 6 weeks. Ya. Not impressed. Time to get vigilant again. And on that note, I should go research safe places to eat for next weekend…

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Prepping for Summer Vacation

I’ve always been a planner and a list maker, so getting my celiac diagnosis didn’t change this, but perhaps made it even more necessary. In just over a week my little family will be taking a two-week summer vacation, starting with a 12 hour drive – with a 6 month old. Yikes! Wish us luck!

Planning to travel with a baby is one thing, but I also have to plan ahead to ensure I can eat safely along the way. We are spending 1 week at our family cabin, a few days with my in-laws, and a few days at my parents before the final 7 hour trek home.

Our family cabin is old, and so is everything in it. Which means I’m not trusting the kitchen to be a very gluten-free zone. I’m planning to bring my own gluten-free kitchen kit just to be safe. It will include:

  • frying pan
  • boiling pot
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • colander
  • sponges
  • lots of tinfoil to cover the grill
  • toaster bags

What else do you bring with you? There is a dishwasher there now so the dishes and cutlery should be safe, although I will probably give them a wash before I use them just to be safe.

I’m also planning for the road trip. We’ll be packing more food then we could possibly eat, but a 12 hour drive will include breakfast, lunch and dinner so we’ll need lots. So far on the list is:

  • gluten-free muffins
  • beef jerky
  • fruit
  • veggies & hummus
  • sandwiches on gluten-free bread
  • granola bars
  • cheese & crackers (the Breton white bean and black bean crackers are our favourite!)

Once we’re at the lake I’m planning for lots of quick and easy dinners, mostly made on the BBQ. Of course I’m hoping for good weather which means it’ll be hot in the cabin and we won’t want to cook inside. I’m thinking burgers, BBQ chicken, steak, sausage & peppers… I’m getting hungry thinking about it.

Food is attached to a lot of great memories for me. And camping and cabin-life are no exception. What are your favourite camp/cabin/summer/BBQ foods? What items must you have for a successful summer vacation? Any tips on travelling with little ones?

Exposing Baby to Gluten

I blinked and 5.5 months have gone by since my son was born. Ok. That’s a bit of a lie, because I barely have the time to blink these days. Which is why as much as I’ve been wanting to write, I have had other priorities getting in the way.

Priority #1

Priority #1

My little man is 5.5 months old already, and in that time we’ve had our ups and downs. He’s mighty cute, but he’s mighty disgusting. We’ve had challenges with feeding from the beginning (long story) and one of the major issues is a severe case of the spit ups. He’s on medication that seems to be helping and, as the doctor instructed, we started solids just before 5 months old. So far he has had rice cereal, avocado, banana, carrots, chicken, apple sauce, and sweet potato. He isn’t a huge fan of the texture of the chicken, but if I mix it with something that he likes then he eats it up.

This picture is a little deceiving. I did give him a cooked carrot stick but he kept choking on it so I pureed it instead. I don't know enough about Baby Led Weaning or infant CPR to go there right now.

This picture is a little deceiving. I did give him a cooked carrot stick but he kept choking on it so I pureed it instead. I don’t know enough about Baby Led Weaning or infant CPR to go there right now.

I’ve been excited to find more and more gluten free baby products, including some with the Canadian Celiac Association seal of approval. I’ve been really nervous about introducing gluten to my baby. I’ve researched it and debated it since I found out I was pregnant. Being a genetic disease he of course has the chance of having celiac disease, or at least the gene for it. There is no evidence that shows keeping him away from gluten will prevent him from getting celiac disease. There is no evidence that introducing it at certain times over others will help either. In the end, I feel like I need to feed my son gluten so that if he DOES end up with celiac disease, we’ll actually be able to test for it and know what we’re dealing with. Why prevent him from living a normal life unless I know I need to?

So I guess my anxiety is a bit selfish. I’m nervous about bringing gluten into my mostly gluten-free home. I’m nervous about the risk of cross contamination from my sons sticky hands and face. The face I can’t stop kissing. The hands that smear across my face and shove their way into my mouth from time to time.

I bought a box of oat cereal. First ingredient “oats (wheat)”…. the dreaded WHEAT. It was against my instincts to buy something with that ingredient. I also know how much the dry rice cereal flies everywhere, so I can’t imagine the oat cereal is going to be less messy.

I haven’t opened the box. I’m scared.