Thursday, March 4, 2010

Managing Your Unglutenized Life

Managing your gluten-free life can be challenging, to say the least. It is not easy by any means, but it can be done. How often have you gone out with friends or family only to be staring frantically at a menu that seems only to offer food selections that have been either drug through flour, dipped in a floured batter, or smothered in a lovely flour-laden cream sauce? Then comes the anguish and anxiety of wishing you had stayed home and gnawed on raw carrot and celery sticks or something similar. You wonder if the wait staff will understand the precarious predicament you are facing, or will you be unintentionally glutenized and be tortured with an assault on your digestive system that literally reduces you to a "very special" kind of misery.

Take heart! You can have a social life and still not be accosted by gluten at every turn. The secret is to be very well informed. Via some unpleasant experiences, I can tell you that you need to research, read labels continually, and arm yourself with a myriad of information. Most restaurants now post their menus on-line and they also post their gluten-free menu (if one exists). Study them, print them, call and talk to the manager about options. Ask questions and don't be shy about it. The questions should be precise because vagueness is not an option with a celiac. Spontaneity is definitely more demanding, but you can do it if you do your homework. You can't depend on others to do it for you. So keep all your print-outs for reference.

Now I have wonderful friends that I adore and whenever we decide to get together, they always ask me; "where can you eat"? I usually name 4 or 5 options that I know are non-gluten friendly and we go from there. Another aware that the most unlikely foods can have gluten in them. I have been told at restaurants that there is wheat in their sour cream (really??? Is that technically even sour cream?) I have been told to leave black olives off a salad because they have wheat in them (again....what???). However ridiculous this seems, it has kept me from making some misguided choices. Back to reading labels........once I didn't take my own advice and started taking a supplement. I felt really bad and had that "glutenized black cloud" following me. I finally checked the label (duh!) and there was wheat in it!!! My point is to be careful and make yourself aware, it literally is in everything!

One more thing on the eating out with friends issue........if your friends don't take your health issues into consideration when picking a might want to get new friends....I'm just saying.......

I ran across a new product at HyVee in the frozen food section of their Health Mart. It is Kettle Cuisine Chicken Noodle Soup (gluten-free, of course). I must admit I was slightly leery and bought it on impulse. (I am not a big fan of prepared frozen food.) But I was very pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It had a lovely flavorful broth, chucks of white meat chicken, slices of carrots and celery and very nice noodles (not mushy). I would definitely buy it again. It is always nice to have something around that you can fix in a pinch. This company is another example of someone starting a business because of family members with celiac.

I just got a great shipment of products from a gluten-free bakery in Kansas City. More on that in a few days after I sample everything. Looks really good so far. Cheers! Linda

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