A frazzled mess. That's what I was a few days ago. I was just beginning my third trimester and on top of all that coping with a new strange disease my dear husband was diagnosed with. How was this possible? How could we cut out crackers, pizza, sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, cake, cookies, brownies, pastas, and the millions of store products that contain gluten such as soy sauce, bouillon cubes, and various brands of popular condiments, and marinades!?
We were doomed. Just doomed I tell you.
It felt so overwhelming it wasn't even funny. I tried to be brave, but knowing the huge lifestyle change this would take was a daunting and scary task. I was fearful because I knew nothing about gluten(1) ( look at the bottom for the footnotes) and celiac disease(2) and I was so afraid that I would some how overlook the gluten in a product that I wouldn't suspect to have gluten(3) and that I would buy a cross contaminated product(4) therefore my lack of knowledge would damage my poor husband with out us even knowing it. *Deep breath*
Phew that was a mouth full!
This is a problem because even the smallest amount of gluten causes permanent damage to the inner surface of the small intestine.
It was also hard because unlike many people with celiac disease, having symptoms of gastrointestinal distress in the form of diarrhea and abdominal pain, my husband showed almost no signs of gastrointestinal distress (except for some gas, but I thought all men were like that.) So some people will know if they eat something that contains gluten because their body will physically react with unpleasant symptoms, whereas my husband could eat the same thing, receive the same intestinal damage, but never realize it because of the lack of physical symptoms. This terrified me because over time he could develop cancer in his intestines from the repeated damage.
Now that I completely confused you with the rat race and maze of fears and questions that were taking place in my brain, let me reassure you that if you are experiencing these emotions and feelings of being scared and overwhelmed, you are completely normal and this step needs to be a part of your process of going gluten free.
Take it one step at a time.
When I first found out about my husband having celiac's, I buried myself in studying all about it online. This can be very helpful, unless taken to far. Don't expect to learn it all in one day like I was trying to. This caused me major stress (which is never good, especially when you are pregnant!) This is a LIFE STYLE CHANGE so expect it to take quite some time to learn it all. I mean this is just your LIFE we are talking about here.
But if I may, let me give you some helpful tips that saved my life the first week.
First, going gluten free will have to be a gradual shift. When you first come home from the doctors you are not automatically going to know and have all of the foods required for you to completely make the switch in one day. Allow your self some time to learn about it and stock up on the necessities and snacks.
Second, learn about what you still CAN eat! It may not seem like it at first, but there are millions of things that are still available to you, it is just a matter of learning what those things are.
ALL fresh meats are safe (if they are processed be sure to read the label to check for gluten)
ALL unprocessed cheeses are safe (if they are processed just read the label)
ALL fresh produce, fruits and veggies
and sea food are safe
Third, Breads, pastas, cookies, and cakes are still available as well, they just have to be made differently. But as I have found (and you have probably found too) Gluten free products, like bread, can be very expensive! Try investing in a bread machine that has a gluten free cycle. I bought the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 off of amazon.com. I read thousands (Or so it felt like) of reviews and looked at hundreds of different types of bread machines and found this one to be the best. But if you do decide to buy store-bought bread, even though it is pricey, Udi's is a great brand! See if a store near you carries it!
Fourth, Learn the most popular flours and ingredients that you will need to make these tasty new treats and breads:
Tapioca Flour (which is the same as tapioca starch)
Brown Rice Flour
White Rice Flour
Fava Bean Flour
Garbanzo Bean Flour
Potato Flour (which IS different from potato starch)
Xanthan Gum (which is a natural sugar derived from corn and can be found at a health food store)
and Soy Flour
(That is not all that is just to list some of the most commonly used)
And for my last tip today, I will post the top most helpful articles and blogs that saved my life and helped me to cope the first week.
http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com (tons of Gluten Free recipes and tips!)
http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ (she did one gluten free recipe each day for one full year!)
http://elizatkinson.blogspot.com/2009/01/gluten-free-tip-candy-bars.html (lists a few popular candy bars that are gluten free!)
http://www.fritolay.com/your-health/us-products-not-containing-gluten-ingredients.html (Popular chips that contain gluten and popular chips that are gluten free!)
I hope this was a helpful start! Good luck!
-The Wife of a Gluten Free Farmer
1. A substance contained in wheat, rye, and barley.
2. An intolerance to gluten
3. Such as baking powder, I mean who would ever suspect baking powder to have gluten!? But various brand of baking powder do contain it, while other brands do not. It can be very tricky. So be careful.
4. When a product that does not contain gluten comes in contact with a product that does and therefore contaminates the other product.