Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The $20 Waffle and Other Reasons My Kitchen Is 99% Gluten Free

Not long after my three-year-old son's Celiac Diagnosis, he looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, "Mom, I need someone to go gwooten fwee wif me."

And I told him he should ask his father.

Just joking. I told him yes, of course I would go gluten free with him. I figured if I was the one having health issues that lead me down the rabbit trail that ended with his diagnosis - what did I have to lose? (my Celiac bloodwork came back negative, and my doctor then backed me trying it, monitoring for vitamin deficiencies a gluten free diet can sometimes cause)

Going gluten free with my son has made me a much more empathetic mom. I constantly think of how to keep him safe, and also share feelings of frustration and exclusion when at a party or gathering when he can't eat what he wants - as I can't eat it either. More than that, joining him on his journey, it has forced me to be a better cook and baker. As I've referenced on Facebook and the blog, I do not have a natural gift for cooking. Going gluten free has been a great motivator to try new foods and recipes - and since I am eating them, I know they taste good. (not sure I would have trusted a three-year-old's judgement on that)

Back then, we decided to have a divided kitchen - gluten free for the two of us, glutenous goodness for the other two in the family. I was cooking separate pots of pasta (with separate strainers, as even those little holes contain too much gluten for a Celiac), using two separate toasters, keeping two separate sponges for dishes. My kitchen, though I loved it, did not have a ton of cupboards - so housing extra sets of cookware and small appliances was not an incredibly easy task.

My happy but not very storage-full kitchen in Cleveland

I was frustrated after a while, though, as gluten free leftovers (particularly of pasta) would often go to waste. Not to mention the feelings it evoked in my son, wanting to be like the rest of the family (he loves me, but the boy REALLY wanted to be like daddy!).

As we were adjusting to the gluten free world, we were also in the midst of my husband applying and ultimately being hired for a job in Cincinnati. Eight months after the Celiac diagnosis, our belongings were being loaded onto a truck and we were saying farewell to our friends, doctors and grocery stores. I grieved on so many levels - everyone misses their friends, but not everyone can say they miss their gastroenterologist, right?

Not long after we moved here, by son sat down for lunch and I handed him microwaved leftover macaroni and cheese. After a few bites, he excitedly said, "MOM! These noodles are big! Just like the gluten ones!" I whipped my head around and grabbed the bowl, and saw that indeed, THOSE WERE THE GLUTEN ONES. I felt so awful - I eat, sleep and breathe to keep him healthy - and I handed him the wrong bowl. I told him my mistake, and that we needed to watch and see if he didn't feel well in the next few days, and that I would have to check after he went to the bathroom too.

I checked for at least five days. Nothing. NO outward reaction. (much like before his diagnosis) I would have thought this diagnosis was all a cruel joke except for the fact his bloodwork showed significant improvement already, and that he had also grown several inches in not even a year. The internal healing had begun.

My son's takeaway from the incident? "Mom, I can eat gwooten!"

Um, no.

So that, combined with one of us putting a gluten waffle in the gluten free toaster (even crumbs can make a Celiac sick, so bye bye toaster!), on top of jealousy issues that were arising - my husband and I agreed that we wanted the kitchen to be gluten free. (at least 99% of it - he would make his and my other child's gluten sandwiches to take to work/school, as well as pretzels)  At least at this young age, we wanted the kitchen to be a safe haven, our house to be a place where he did not have to worry about the issue at all. Gluten free wouldn't even be a thought, it would just be the norm. He would have to deal with it at school and church but not in our home. And it also took a huge amount of worry off my shoulders.

We still operate like this, almost six years later. I make a "regular" lunch for my one son and a gluten free one for the other. All breakfasts and dinners are safe for everyone. Any baking is gluten free, as I do not want the creases and cracks in my baking pans to hide gluten, nor do I want wheat airborne in the house.

I do not know if we will operate this way forever - as the boys grow into teenagers and their appetites follow, it may not be feasible. Currently, the cost may be a little higher, but compared to throwing away gluten free leftovers as we did before - it isn't as much as I expected. What it has provided is an amazing sense of security for my Celiac son, and an incredible friend and watchdog out of his older brother.

No comments:

Post a Comment