I’ve been diagnosed with coeliac disease and lactose intolerance for nearly six years and my little girls are also coeliac. So I’d say we’re a pretty clued-up family now.
There are still a few things we need to sort out though because cross-contamination is so bloody difficult to manage. We have to be so careful that we can’t even have chips cooked in the same oil as battered fish and can’t use a toaster unless we are using toaster bags or it is gluten free only. It seems a tad overboard to other people, but we really do need to take it seriously.
You may have read the blog post (Give the man a medal – what it’s like living with coeliacs). My poor husband is banished to a small corner of the kitchen which may in itself seem unfair, but there are ALWAYS mountains of crumbs containing gluten all over his special little shelf. You can guarantee every time I get something out of the cupboard above it, it will get covered in gluten (some of my cupboards are extremely full and disorganised. No time is my excuse!!).
For this issue, I have tried a few strategies:
1. Leaving wipes on the worktop itself
2. Telling him that the kids keep putting their hands in it
3. Cleaning it myself
Guess which one was the only successful strategy? Bless him. Wiping shelves are not his forte, but he is an awesome cook and great with the kids, so I guess I’ll let him off and wipe them for him.
Then we’ve got our friends and family… I am usually pretty militant with watching what people are doing when they have gluten on their hands or plates, but it’s just so damn easy to contaminate. They all try their very best, but even when you live with it every day it can be easy to mess up, so when you don’t need to think about it on a normal basis, it is really tricky. My Mum says it takes her a day to get back into all the little procedures again to feed me and the kids safely (there are usually a few bits of gf bread thrown away, potatoes removed from my plate and cups of tea poured away in the process).
Things that really catch people out are knives being put back in butter after spreading bread, touching bread/pastry with spoons when serving things, fish and chips opened in the gluten-free area, bread buttered above gluten-free food and gluteny hands going in crisps. Evil, evil gluten.
Nearly everyone we know has now become an expert in keeping our kitchen safe though. Even my 3 year old daughter’s friends role play with gluten-free food which I just think is amazing. And my 6 year old daughter’s friends seem to know every brand and type of sweet and chocolate that doesn’t contain gluten. That’s essential for life, surely!? Maybe one day we’ll have a whole world of free-from experts.