Friday, February 8, 2008

Gluten Free O' Rama

My dad has celliac disease. This sounds pretty horrible, but in all honesty, it's kind of like a food allergy with a scary name, although it's considered an autoimmune disorder. He's allergic to gluten, which means that wheat, oats, barley and anything containing those things are off limits. Wheat flour and wheat starch hide in most processed foods - pudding, fried chicken, gravy, soups, vitamins - so label reading is a regular pasttime for our family. Even tiny amounts can damage his intestine.

When he was first diagnosed, it was difficult for him to give up what he really loved, which was bread. Cakes, cookies, buns, dumplings, pasta - all history. Beer - no more. Plus, there were virtually no foods that you could buy off the shelf that were 'gluten free', so mom had to learn new recipes, almost overnight. She cooked everything from scratch to ensure my dad wouldn't accidentally eat something he shouldn't. Even when he was in the hospital, the staff didn't know what gluten-free meant, so we would have to bring him food from home so his stay wasn't complicated by a bought of montezuma's revenge.

Things have changed over the years. Go into any Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and even Vons, and there are entire sections dedicated to gluten-free foodstuffs. Bread, cake mixes, waffles, cookies, pastas, cereals, cream soups - all wheat and gluten free. The variety is thrilling, especially for mom.

This has made her life a heck of a lot easier. And dad gets most of his old favorites back.


MaryRuth said...

Man, that's gotta be tough to have a major food restriction like that. Glad to hear that things are getting better for him (and your mom).
You are right about gluten being hidden in most everything. I met a gluten-free person at a party recently. She asked what was in the dipping sauce I made for my Thai Summer Rolls. I was sure surprised to learn shoyu has wheat!
I've seen this blog a few times, you and your family might find it helpful.

Jill said...

Any gluten-free beer yet, Susan?

So Cal Peeper said...

We wish.

So Cal Peeper said...

There are soy sauces that are gluten free, fortunately, esp. since mom is chinese.