Not Martha

one gluten-free day

When Shauna asked if I would be a part of the virtual tour for her book Gluen-Free Girl she gave a few ideas for framing the entry. I decided eating gluten-free for a day would be the most fun. Of course, when my chosen day arrived I was completely unprepared.

Before I start – much of the day below takes account of what I wasn’t able to eat or do. This was irresponsible on my part since Shauna’s book is not about what living gluten-free means one has to give up – it’s about entirely, joyfully, the opposite. I recorded my day before I read the book (again, completely unprepared, irresponsible of me) and I’m sure her intention was for me to discover what I was not missing out on. I apologize to Shauna for very probably getting the point all wrong. Here is the thing though, I learned an amazing amount from cutting this one thing out of my life for 24 hours and trying to interact will all of the stuff I’m surrounded by. I wouldn’t give up this learning experience.

Had I read the book before I set out on this day I would have known the answer to every question I asked during my day. While the book informs, it does it through telling her story which is moving and entertaining. Recipes are included in each chapter, recipes that I’ve bookmarked to make for myself. And at the end is a love story that brought tears to my eyes while I was sitting on my couch, next to Scott, who was playing Resident Evil 4. And even though I’d come across many of those stories on her site already, not even the big spiky monster could get me to look up while I was reading those pages.

My gluten-free day gave me a much richer understanding of what avoiding wheat gluten means to those with celiac, and Shauna gave me a much richer understanding of what avoiding wheat gluten doesn’t have to mean.

If you don’t know about it already, I insist you go visit Shauna’s site, Gluten-Free Girl, her stories and recipes always bring a bit of shininess back into my day. If you have celiac and don’t know already, Shauna’s husband is the chef at Impromptu Bistro and he’s made the restaurant gluten friendly with the option of gluten-free pasta and strictly contained areas for preparing gluten foods so you don’t have to fret over any detail.

Ok, here we go. I wake up and…

8:ish a.m.
Oh god I hope there isn’t gluten in my Folgers coffee. Lemme see. It says 100% Arabica coffee. Good. I’m glad I drink it black, it’s too early to wonder if anything gluten-y is added to sugar or creamer.

9:15 a.m.
I’m hungry. There is a large loaf of bread I baked last night sitting on my counter which is completely off limits. I wonder if the flour I have not swept off my counter yet would negatively effect somebody with celiac? Oh my gosh it will, if this day were a computer game would I have lost the game already. My bananas aren’t ripe yet. I’ll make two hard boiled eggs.

10:55 a.m.
I’m craving popcorn for lunch and looking at the jar of kernels (ha ha, it says “whole grain”). They don’t add anything to popping corn right? I am growing aware that I expect all of my food to be heavily additived (not a word, but I’m going to use it anyhow). I’ll eat an apple instead, mmm, Honeycrisp. I hope they don’t add wheat products to fruit these days. This thought is completely ridiculous but I’m recalling a commercial where there is a little sign saying “high fructose corn syrup” next to a pile of apples. It’s making me paranoid.

12:47 p.m.
I’m sipping water with a sprinkle of True Lemon when I bolt up, realizing I didn’t check the ingredients list. It contains maltodextrin, that doesn’t sound good. I do some research on Google and find a few things that lead me to pour out my water and get a new, lemon flavoringless, glass. The first bit of research is promising:

“When labeled as maltodextrin in the US, this ingredient must be made from corn, potato or rice but not wheat.”

But the second bit leaves me unsure if my maltodextrin would be ok:

“Maltodextrin is prepared as a white powder or concentrated solution by partial hydrolysis of corn starch or potato starch with safe and suitable acids and enzymes. (1) Maltodextrin, when listed on food sold in the USA, must be (per FDA regulation) made from corn or potato. This rule does NOT apply to vitamin or mineral supplements and medications. (2) Donald Kasarda Ph.D., a research chemist specializing on grain proteins, of the United States Department of Agriculture, found that all maltodextrins in the USA are made from corn starch, using enzymes that are NOT derived from wheat, rye, barley, or oats. On that basis he believes that celiac need not be too concerned about maltodextrins, though he cautions that there is no guarantee that a manufacturer wont change their process to use wheat starch or a gluten-based enzyme in the future.”

Is True Lemon considered vitamin or mineral supplement? Or is it a regulated food stuff?

12:57 p.m.
I’m still hungry. I have a left over hedgehog potato from dinner last night. Let’s see, I put sliced garlic, dried thyme (my fresh had expired), salt, pepper and olive oil. Should be ok. Do they add glutenous stuff to dried herbs? I’m finding gluten-free recipes that call for dried thyme. Ok, going to eat it.

I just realized we ate a gluten-free dinner last night! We had a roasted chicken with hedgehog potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Well, we bought the roasted chicken from a grocery store. And not a fancy all natural grocery store, a regular cannot-be-trusted grocery store. So I’m not sure if it was gluten-free. Wow, this is a level of vigilance I don’t think I could keep up without growing frustrated. Then again, had I roasted the chicken myself it would have been a gluten-free meal. And it was excellent.

2:ish p.m.
Here is a list of the things in my kitchen I suspect I cannot have as a snack:

– peanut butter
– Diet Coke
– steel cut oatmeal
– canned soup
– flavored yogurt
– leftover birthday cake (this one is pretty obviously a no)
– Halloween chocolates

When I lived in San Francisco the coworker whom I shared a cube with had celiac. She was starting to do body building and was following a strict eating schedule. On the days when she didn’t have time to pack her afternoon meal she was stuck eating yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit from the cafeteria. It wasn’t horrible, but she did find it boring. She had the familiar diagnosis story about becoming sick for a reason her doctor couldn’t figure out, and staying sick until they figured out it was celiac. She was cool, and gave me gluten-free recipes that were delicious, and not trying to mimic wheat based foods.

2:46 p.m.
I am cheered up when I realize that I can have the tomato sauce I made from scratch last week. Hold on, do canned whole tomatoes have gluten in there? Tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, calcium chloride, citric acid. Looks like calcium chloride is safe but this page makes me unsure about the citric acid: “When citric acid is made in the United States, it is made from sugar cane, sugar beets or corn; however, when it is produced in China, it may be made from wheat.” But other places list it as safe. These canned tomatoes are made by ConAgra Foods. My gut is telling me to give the sauce a pass, just in case. Darn, I was looking forward to getting some gluten-free pasta from PCC to eat with this.

3:04 p.m.
Yes! I can have a Diet Coke. This is making me unreasonably happy.

3:34 p.m.
I’m just finished taking a shower and I’m afraid my hair is looking limp. I wasn’t able to use my Bumble & Bumble Thickening Spray because get this — the second ingredient is “hydrolyzed wheat protein”. I did not see that one coming.

Turns out wheat in beauty products is a problem. It seems that for very sensitive people the gluten can be absorbed, in some cases people think it might be because they touch their hair, and then a fork, and then eat lunch. It can affect people’s skin, making them itchy or giving a rash. I had no idea. Reading how happy this person is to find that Bumble & Bumble’s seaweed line is gluten-free makes me realize I have no idea how big the ice burg is that I’ve grazed the tip of.

Gah, it looks like I cannot use my Curel either, at least not with absolute certainty. The Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner were ok. Geez, toothpastes can also be trouble.

3:39 p.m.
I’m craving something sweet. I’ll head to my secret weapon, a nearby PCC Market, tonight and get gluten-free desserts. Last time I was there it seemed like I couldn’t find normal cookies, everything was gluten or dairy or sugar free.

I met another person with celiac just the other week. It was shortly after Shauna asked if I would be willing to be a part of the virtual book tour. We were at a gathering/cooking demonstration and after she told me I realized she was probably watching the cooking a bit more closely than the rest of us. I asked her if any of the gluten-free baking mixes I see in PCC were good. She said not really, but some of the items from gluten-free bakeries were very yummy.

4:07 p.m.
It is very difficult to just not pick up that chocolate ghost on my dining room table and eat it. It’s not that I’m fighting will power, it’s that I’m so used to being able to eat anything without concern.

But now I am craving chocolate. Let’s take a look at the Nestle Semi-Sweet chocolate chips I have. The ingredients list “natural flavor”, which after reading Fast Food Nation I know doesn’t necessarily mean that flavoring wasn’t processed to within an inch of it’s ability to be called natural. Soy lecithin is one have not come across yet today. Let’s see, Nestle chips look ok, they’re in this gluten-free awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe,and I’m finding Nestle mentioned by name in a bunch of gluten-free recipes. And hey look, Alton Brown does gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, with a link to the recipe, no brand of chocolate is specified. I saw that episode. Soy lecithin is safe. I’m eating the chocolate chips now.

4:09 p.m.
Ooh, without the product my hair is doing this adorable flippy thing at the ends.

4:27 p.m.
Are people with celiac unable to make pinatas? This sounds flip, I don’t mean it to be. I was just looking through all the papier-mache Halloween decoration projects on and realized, duh, wheat paste. Oh lookie, Kiddley has an alternate recipe for wheat paste for those with wheat allergies, sweet. (I miss you Loobylu.)

4:50 p.m.
I’m drinking Numi Jasmine Green Tea. I keep my teas in a little tin so I recycled the box a while ago, but the ingredients on the back of the packet say, essentially, green tea scented with jasmine flowers. I think it’s ok.

5:28 p.m.
Scott gets home and we decide to head out to the, shudder, mall to return something. I figure it will be a real test to see how I fare eating gluten-free in the midst of middle America. We look at our options – Red Robin, Panera Bread, Outback, Johnny Rockets, The Cheesecake Factory. We choose the Olive Garden, both because it’s something of a personal symbol of our collective Midwestern past, and because why the hell not try to eat gluten-free at a pasta place?

(We were party #13. That should have been warning enough.)

When we arrive I tell the hostess I’m eating gluten-free and ask if there is a list of ingredients I might be able to look over while we wait. She nods politely, explains that the restaurant is able to give me a list of foods but indicates I’ll have to ask the server. She is kind about it, I don’t think she’s allowed to leave her post. Our server Jacob arrives, poor Jacob. I tell him I’m eating gluten-free and he stammers a little and says he doesn’t know what that is.

Now, I’ve already decided I’m not going to push the issue on the people who work here. As much as I’m trying to learn about this new world, this particular situation is not important enough to create a more work for somebody who is otherwise doing their job competently. Partly I realize that a person who very seriously needed to avoid wheat gluten would never, ever, ever enter an Olive Garden, and partly I have a soft spot for the guy who did “I am a Host at The Olive Garden”.

I tell Jacob that I cannot eat wheat and ask if the restaurant has a list of foods they can tell me don’t contain gluten or a list of ingredients I could see. Jacob returns with a few things and says that he asked about foods they that are… gluten-free — you can see the wheels in his head turning here. He hasn’t seen the word written down, has never heard this request, and I suspect he doesn’t know if it’s “gluten” or “cluten” or “bluten”. He’s brought me the restaurants official Garden Fare Nutrition Information Guide which is really just nutrion listings for people on traditional diets. The other thing Jacob brings is a hand written list of which items the restaurant considers gluten-free – Garden Salad, Ceasar Salad, those entrees that don’t come perched on a pile of pasta. I suspect he jotted this list while holding a phone to his ear after calling Olive Garden headquarter. I ask Jacob if I could keep the list, he’s happy enough to rip it out of his order notebook and hand it over. I order the Pork Fillatino, knowing that the gig is pretty much up.

(Eating at the Olive Garden is totally oLd.)

After Jacob leaves Scott tells me my hair looks cute tonight. And not in that trying to get into my pants way, just in that observant boyfriend way. I tell him about not being able to use my Bumble & Bumble spray and a little about what I know about celiac disease. Turns out he only knew it as an allergy, not something that causes your body to attack itself. He suddenly understands why I couldn’t use the hair spray.

The bread sticks arrive and Scott makes like he’s doing a solidarity thing and doesn’t touch them. I’m hungry so I slide them towards me and sniff. The salad arrives with croutons on top – I completely forgot to ask for no croutons and dressing on the side. I eat around the croutons, Scott lets me have the single tomato slice. When our food arrives I have hunk of pork loin with a sauce, pan fried potatoes (think breakfast potatoes), peppers and onions. The sauce tastes like bad stir fry sauce, I’m sure it’s got gluten in the thickeners. I’m sure the potato chunks have been sprayed with starch to make them uniformly brown, I’m sure that starch has gluten in it somewhere. (And after reading the book and learning about cross contamination in the kitchen, I know for sure this would be a situation where it would be impossible to ensure there was no gluten on my plate.) I weigh how little I like the taste of my dinner, how much I’ve learned about eating gluten-free in a chain restaurant and how much I’ll be paying for the education. And then I decide to eat a bread stick. Forgive me. (Afterthought: maybe the sauce with my meal wasn’t great because they made a special batch just for me. If so, thanks guys.)

8:49 p.m.
But I didn’t eat the Andes mint that came with the check. I’m trying to find out if it’s safe to eat (we’ve come back into present tense here) and I’ve found this page – celiac Survival in Midland, Texas. Looking at that it seems we might have found a more informed staff at the Outback Steak House. (I was treated perfectly fine at the Olive Garden, for the record). I just found a page on eating gluten-free at the Olive Garden (note to somebody who will give me a Christmas present: see how useful an iPhone would have been?). Looks pretty grim. Ooh, it looks like I can eat the Andes mint (see also), I’m glad I saved it.

So, I’m home now and this is where I would usually have a drink. Obviously the beer is out, I’m not sure about the gin, Cointreau or Campari. A few months ago I met a girl with celiac at a group who meets to knit in a cafe. Actually, I met her right after I came from a book signing where I met Shauna for the first time, I seem to meet people with celiac right after I’ve been in contact with Shauna, it must be her magic rubbing off. Anyhow, the girl was concerned because the bar had run out of hard apple cider. She didn’t want to order wine because she had heard there is a chance red wine has something with gluten added to it during the fermentation. I told her about Shauna’s site, that Shauna’s husband is the chef at Impromptu Bistro and that the restaurant was all set up to be able to serve gluten-free meals, she was really happy to hear about it. (Note: after reading the book I find that the restaurant and menu is now set up to be extremely gluten-friendly and I had a chance to speak with Shauna about it, she told me gluten foods are contained in specific areas of the kitchen so there is no cross contamination.) has a page on which alcoholic beverages are safe, wine might be ok but I don’t want to open a whole bottle. I’m tired, I’m going to watch Tivo while sipping water with a slice of real lemon in it.

Let me just conclude by saying this – we are surrounded by wheat gluten and I never could have found it all if it weren’t for Google and an amazingly helpful community that people with celiac have come together to form. Thanks for all the information you all made available to me today. And thank you to Shauna for giving me chance to experience all of this first hand!

· comments [36] · 10-25-2007 · categories:books · food · links ·

36 responses so far ↓

  • 1 grrl with a blog // Oct 25, 2007 at 6:12 am

    wow! great job!
    my boss’ daughter has celiac, and I have heard him talk about how careful they have to be, but I had no idea it was so difficult.

    It’s disturbing how much of the food we consume today is over-processed.

  • 2 Summer M // Oct 25, 2007 at 6:43 am

    Wow, what a day. I have a friend who’s daughter has celiac. She maks it look so easy, but then she’s been doing it for a while. I’m going to have to buy this book now. :)

    p.s. Aren’t you glad you can have the homemade bread now? :)

  • 3 Alyson // Oct 25, 2007 at 7:11 am

    I had a co-worker a while back that was thought to have Celiac. Her doctor was reluctant to do the definitive celiac test on her, (an intestinal biopsy), but when she lost 15 pounds in a heartbeat – (she is a vegetarian and not eating pasta was really messing with her nutrition) she forced the issue. The result? NO CELIAC! She needed her gall bladder removed. She had eaten gluten free for about 3 months before the doctor found that she didn’t have celiac disease. Being a vegetarian, it was really hard for her. But it gave us all a look into how challenging living gluten-free can be!

  • 4 Gina // Oct 25, 2007 at 7:20 am

    Kudos to you for trying a gluten-free day!
    I love that Shauna is so positive about what you CAN eat, but you’ve made a good comparison of how much you CAN NOT eat. It reminds me a bit of my first day living gluten-free where every bit of food was in question. And sadly your waiter’s reaction sounds like about 75% I’ve run into through the years.

  • 5 Emily // Oct 25, 2007 at 7:37 am

    Back in college I was really sick and a Dr thought I might be allergic to soy. He suggested that I stay away from all soy for a while to see. I only lasted two days. Soy was in EVERYTHING! Luckily I don’t have a soy allergy and I can only imagine what it must be like to have to live with celiac every day. Thank you for doing this. I learned a lot from reading your account.

  • 6 Andi // Oct 25, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Gee, that’s crazy! I’m glad to hear that people share so much information over the internet on this illness, but I have to say that I’m damn glad I don’t have to watch my food like that! (crosses my fingers)
    Any person who can smell an Olive Garden bread stick and not immediately give up also deserves a gold star. Good try!

  • 7 megan // Oct 25, 2007 at 8:25 am

    p.s. I’ve figured that by eating the food in the Olive Garden I was giving my waiter a wrong impression about what being gluten-free means. So I’m going to write him a nice note explaining that I was doing research and that it turns out I couldn’t have eaten the salad with the crouton on it, and probably not the potatoes. I’ll be super nice about it.

  • 8 gabrielle // Oct 25, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Trying to avoid an allergen can be a real shock at first, but like anything you get used to it. My daughter has a peanut allergy and we go through the same thing every day – but each day you learn where you can go, what’s safe, what isn’t. And then you focus on what you CAN have, not what you can’t. Glad you are getting awareness of food intolerance and allergies out there. Nice post!

  • 9 sir jorge // Oct 25, 2007 at 8:41 am

    That’s crazy, and interesting, I’m going to get that book now.

  • 10 marielle // Oct 25, 2007 at 9:41 am

    I love that you did this. Great post!

  • 11 kate // Oct 25, 2007 at 9:46 am

    My mother in law has been living with celiac for almost 20 years–when she was diagnosed it was still practically unknown in the US, and she’s said it was a huge relief to go to England/Ireland on vacation and have all the restaurants list celiac-friendly choices on the menu. She’s got restaurant eating down to a science, but we usually make it easier by sticking to steak houses, etc. with her, where there aren’t a lot of sauces used in the cooking and it’s easy to get a plain baked potato. At good italian places she eats risotto. It’s definitely a tricky adjustment for me to cook for her though–one time I didn’t dredge meat for stew before browning it, to stay away from the flour, but then I still used Guinness as the liquid. Doh.

  • 12 Linsey // Oct 25, 2007 at 10:55 am

    My partner was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the start of this year. It has been a challenge in many respects, but at the end of the day it’s a better way to eat. She has lots fresh foods and avoids anything processed – she feels better emotionally and physically. For anyone with Celiac Disease, sushi is a lifesaver…only no soy sauce because it has wheat (though they do make a wheat-free). The hardest part is when people don’t realize that something as simple as preparing food for someone with Celiac Disease where they just cut a loaf of bread matters – which is why eating out at restaurants or at other people’s homes can be a challenge. We enjoy Shauna’s website – and I am sure we will love her book!

  • 13 Carrie // Oct 25, 2007 at 11:21 am

    This is a really intersting post. I have several family members with children who have autism or disorders on the autism spectrum, and a lot of doctors are now recommending gluten and casein free diets as treatments for autism, so they’ve changed their diet. I was vaguely aware of what a gluten free diet meant, but now have new respect for what they are doing. I’ll have to recommend this book to them. Thanks for the review!

  • 14 Samantha // Oct 25, 2007 at 11:22 am

    I’m not celiac, but sensitive to gluten, and I actually just picked up the book a few days ago. It’s very well-written and I’m enjoying it immensely. Great job on the experiment!

  • 15 Merrily // Oct 25, 2007 at 11:37 am

    I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy 6 years ago. My first thoughts were thank goodness it is just wheat and I could still eat rice and corn until I started reading labels. Wheat is everywhere. I’ve had to change my diet and my beauty products since wheat in either can cause a reaction. The restaurants and general awareness over the years has greatly improved but still has a long way to go. I’m thankful for all the work done to raise awareness for Celiac since I often give up on explaining my allergy and just ask to see a gluten-free menu which restaurants like Legal Seafood now have. Reading Shauna’s blog lead me to many useful resources and uplifting stories.

  • 16 Justin // Oct 25, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Wow… that was intense and I was just reading!

  • 17 Patti // Oct 25, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Alek Komarnitsky’s two sons have celiac. Alek was in Make a while back, and his project is in the new Best of Make book. He has a really fun web site where you can control his Halloween decorations. You can donate to celiac disease research through his site, too. :)
    (He does it again at Christmas. Bigger.)

  • 18 Rebecca // Oct 25, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    My daughter is tested every six months for celiac. She has had gut problems since she was 6 and I have started researching celiac when it first came into conversation 2 years ago with doctors. The thing is the doctor actually doesn’t want me to go gluten free with her until we have a definite positive result because If you do have celiac and you go gluten free, the tests won’t pick it up. The tests only test positive for celiac if your body is fighting the gluten in your system. I thought this was interesting and just wanted to share.

  • 19 sarah // Oct 25, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Wow. That was more difficult that I had any idea it would be.

  • 20 Jan // Oct 26, 2007 at 3:20 am

    What an incredible post — and brave of you to go to the Olive Garden!

    For what it’s worth, I’ve done a little cooking for people with gluten sensitivity (not celiac, just allergy), and I was pretty sure, that steel-cut oats were on the definitely okay list. Is there a reason I should keep away?

  • 21 Marie // Oct 26, 2007 at 5:23 am

    Hi, thank you so much, that was a fantastic post – I learnt alot!
    Oh, and I miss Loobylou too :(

  • 22 megan // Oct 26, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Jan – Shauna addressed this at the book signing I went to. For people with celiac who are very sensitive, they can react to oats. She said that for a long time people have suspected that the protein in oats is molecularly similar to gluten. There is new evidence though that oats grown in a field next to wheat can become contaminated, or oats grown in a field where wheat was grown the year before can become contaminated. She told us that there was a teenager with celiac (or the brother of someone with celiac?) who did his 4H project on this.

    She mentioned a few sources for absolutely gluten free wheats, one small farm in Canada, one in America, and soon Bob’s Red Mill is opening a whole facility that will not process wheat (ever), and only processes grains that are not contaminated.

  • 23 Jan // Oct 28, 2007 at 5:40 am

    Thanks Megan! That’s really good to know.

  • 24 marisa // Oct 28, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    This is a fascinating post. Kudos to you for being so vigilant with ingredient investigations.

  • 25 Gina // Oct 29, 2007 at 7:32 am

    I have celiac and have been (happily and healthily) eating oatmeal for breakfast for several months now. I get mine from lara’s rolled oats. They are grown in dedicated GF fields. Basically, oat and wheat fields typically get rotated with each other annually so the chance of cross-contamination is very high (I got sick trying quaker oats and I’m not that sensitive).

  • 26 miranda // Oct 29, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    If you weren’t extremely sensitive, there are a lot of things you were concerned about that you could probably eat. It seems like you were following an extreme worst-case-scenario plan.

    For example: unless I’m specifically in a cycle where I’m reacting a lot to things other than wheat, steel-cut oatmeal is fine (I can’t eat rolled oats ever: that might be cross-contamination, but I assumed it was just some structural difference in the oats caused by the two different processes). At the Olive Garden, trying to eat gluten free would be difficult, but I would consider something like Chicken Marsala and ask them not to dredge the chicken breasts through flour. Better not to eat there, though. But, I don’t have a serious case of celiac disease. (Instead of worrying about minute amounts of contamination, I would just pull the bun off a burger… I realize that some people do have to worry about the minute amounts, but not everyone is like that.)

    One of the real troubles is finding gluten-free pastas that don’t have a gross texture: I’ve been happy with Quinoa pastas and with a blended pasta called Bionaturae. Some people probably can’t eat them.

    There is, however, a lot of stuff you did eat that I couldn’t have eaten at my most reactive, when I’ve also had to avoid all sugars. Apple, honey for the tea, chocolate chips, diet coke… *wistful sigh*

    So, there isn’t always one right gluten-free diet for every person, and gluten isn’t always the only concern per se.

  • 27 Annie // Oct 30, 2007 at 5:38 am

    Miranda — unfortunately, that’s not how celiac disease works. I just want to clear this up in case other people who are just getting started or are still seeking a diagnosis read this. There’s no such thing as a “less severe” case of celiac disease. There are some people who have fewer *external* symptoms when they do have soem gluten. In fact, everybody has different symptoms and there are no real “classic” symptoms of celiac disease. But if you ingest gluten, you will be doing damage to your system & increasing your risk of all kinds of associated problems — even if you don’t ingest enough to *feel* sick. It’s an autoimmune response on the level of molecules, and not feeling sick to your stomach does not mean you’re not making yourself quite sick.

  • 28 maria // Oct 30, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    My boyfriend has a lot of food allergies: peanuts (will kill him), all legumes, soy, most seafood. Cooking for him and buying food for him has really opened my eyes. Soy is perhaps as insidious and ubiquitous as wheat. Fortunately, as long as you don’t rely on too much packaged food, it’s pretty easy to stay safe. :)

  • 29 mnfiddledragon // Oct 31, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Surprisingly, there are some pasta places that do have delicious gluten free menus. In MN, Ciatti’s (or I guess Chianti Grill is what it’s now called) is one such place. Yum!

  • 30 Jen // Oct 31, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Nice article. For your second act, go a day trying to avoid dairy products. All of them. Six years ago I developed an allergy to all dairy. Not just intolerance, but actual allergy. To lactose and lactase. The number of things I can no longer use/eat is staggering.

  • 31 jessica // Nov 3, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    When my coworker found out I couldn’t eat gluten he would bring in muffin recipes and tell me to “just use a different kind of flour.” In a wonderful coincidence, his mother showed him an article about gluten free baking, and he came to work stunned at how much chemistry and thought is involved in substitutions. Although living gluten free is definitely effort, it becomes a learned behaviour over time so does get easier.

    It’s hard for most people to really grasp what it means to avoid gluten, so thank you Megan for doing this. Raising awareness is so important and one of the best things that people can do for Celiacs everywhere.

  • 32 Jody // Nov 5, 2007 at 8:09 am

    I have a strong intolerance for eggs, which I’ve only just realized… it’s hard for me to eat out when I start thinking about all the places eggs COULD be used and just not knowing.

    Thanks for sharing your day, I think it’ll help others who haven’t had to go without a certain common food product to realize what some of us go through everyday.

  • 33 heather // Nov 7, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Megan, just to clarify, it’s not just wheat that we can’t eat, but barley and rye too (I’d mention oats, but you already covered that in the comments). They all have the same gluten protein.

    FYI, Outback and Red Robin have lists/menus of the items that people who are gluten intolerant can eat.

  • 34 Greg // Jan 8, 2008 at 11:58 am

    For all of you sufferers of celiac and wheat intolerance. is a free resource with over 4000 gluten free recipes, articles, product tests, etc. It was started by my wife in 1999 when she was diagnosed with celiac.
    It used to be a subscription magazine, but last year we made it free.
    Please take a moment and browse, I am sure you will find it helpful.
    Megan, great article. I remember when my wife first was diagnosed and the problems we had. We are now a gluten free zone at the house and office. The number of items available today is so much greater than in the early years. I look forward to the convenience coming for the gluten intolerant person. BTW Fred Meyer is now offering a good selection of gluten free foods in a number of their stores, as is Whole Foods, Food Pavillion, Huckleberries, and Trader Joe’s.

  • 35 Zenzoa - I Wish I Were a Bodhisattva // May 14, 2008 at 10:27 am

    […] Not Martha’s review of Gluten-Free Girl makes me wish I was more of a Bodhisattva; a person full of loving-kindness with not a judgmental bone in my body. Or at least, imperfect and mortal that we are, someone who would be described that way. But I’m not — not yet. […]

  • 36 phyllis // May 11, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I’ve had Celiac for 25 years, and sometimes it’s still so hard to get my family not to cross contaminate my food and my prep areas. Other than that, I love my diet and I would never want to eat any other way. When gluten almost kills you, you don’t want anything to do with it, so it’s not hard to give up in the least…at least not for me. You did a nice job with your research, and I’m impressed. Thank you for taking the time and effort to go gluten free. It raises awareness of what it means to have to be gluten free, and ultimately makes like easier for Celiacs. Twenty five years ago I was an outcast due to my disease. It’s not like that nowadays thanks to those like you.

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