While planning and preparing a gluten-free meal may require extra time and consideration, doing so while simultaneously preparing a gluten-containing meal is near impossible. As awareness of gluten sensitivities is on the rise, so too are the number of entirely gluten-free households. Whether it is a parent or child who is afflicted by celiac disease or gluten intolerance, the whole family often hops on board.
In this article we’ll cover some of the reasons why families are showing their support for loved ones via a family-wide gluten-free diet:
- Cross-Contamination: Cathy, author of Strawberries Are Gluten Free, is the mother of three young girls and wife of Mike, who was diagnosed with celiac disease three years ago. When we asked Cathy about her thoughts and experiences surrounding this topic, she had this to say: “People who cook gluten-containing meals at the same time (as gluten-free meals)? I have a hard time believing that it is truly gluten-free. When Mike didn’t get better, the doctor told us to go completely gluten-free–in our kitchen, and all of our diets. It did make a difference!”
- Cooking Equipment: Surfaces, appliances, cookware–all of these can become contaminated by gluten, which even in small amounts can harm your loved ones. Specific areas of concern in the kitchen include appliances like toasters, which can be hard to clean. Because just one crumb can make a gluten sensitive loved one sick, the NFCA Guide recommends using a “dedicated toaster for gluten-free foods,” meaning that appliances, not just people should also be gluten-free.
- Food Mix-ups: Even in the the most segregated households, mix-ups can happen. Recently, I heard a story of a woman mistaking her daughter’s takeout dish for her own, and accidentally ingesting half a meal’s worth of a glutenous dish. If you do let gluten-containing foods into your home, make sure that they are labeled properly for every member of the family to understand.
- Genetic Predisposition: Even though your children may test negative for celiac disease today, if you have the genes for it, chances are good that they do too. According to Kelly Fordon of the NFCA, “Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to reduce the risk of developing other auto-immune disorders or even cancer. “
- Even Pets Can Contaminate: Another way to prevent exposing your loved ones to gluten is to purchase gluten-free pet foods. According to Gluten Free Kiwi, “As you know when you are cooking for a gluten free person cross contamination can be an issue, so it is important to reduce this as much as possible. Often people overlook their pets as a source of cross contamination, but there is a risk there.”