Gluten Tag

I never thought it would come to this.

One thing I don’t write about enough on this blog is food allergies. Three-fifths of our family have serious food allergies but the Captain wins the allergy competition by far. His list of allergies is huge and, sadly, continues to grow. It seems we add one new food allergy every year.

When people hear that he subsists on a diet that is free from eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and other legumes like lentils and chick peas, with coconut looming as a dark horse, they often wonder what it is that he does eat. It can sound awfully intimidating to people who really like cheese and peanut butter and french toast, but we have learned to work around it. For years now I’ve done all our own baking, I’ve learned how to modify recipes for us, how to use the alternative products that (thank GOD) are available to us these days.

Here’s what I used to say to those people who sympathized with us: “At least we still have wheat! I don’t know what we’d do without wheat!”

Famous last words.

The Captain went for a new kind of allergy testing last week that indicates a growing sensitivity to wheat and gluten. So our doctor would like to take him off these products for at least six months, then reintroduce them, to see if we can help some growing problems he’s had lately with asthma and sinus congestion.

So, welcome to the world of gluten-free baking! Complete with no eggs, no milk, no soy flour, no chickpea flour, and no nut flours!

Oh joy.

I actually cried in the grocery store today. First because I have no idea what to have for dinner. I have been working on a fixed 4-week menu plan for a few years now, recipes I’ve made a hundred times that I can crank out at a moment’s notice. Our meals run like a well-oiled machine, I know where everything is in the grocery store that I will need from week to week. Now half of those meals are out, and I have no idea what to make. I don’t have the time, energy, or enthusiasm to start over from scratch – I have four new gluten-free cookbooks awaiting my attention but my getting-us-through-the-holidays strategy is likely going to involve hot dogs and rice crackers at least every other night.

Later I cried again because I actually found some products at the health food store that he can have. It’s not much but there is actually a line of cookies and granola bars that are free from ALL his allergens, and are gluten free too (made by Enjoy Life, GOD I LOVE YOU PEOPLE). And I cried to think of being able to hand my kind a granola bar like a normal parent to a normal kid. I cried because the very existance of these products means there may be others out there that share our experience, and people who love them and so are doing something about it. It was a moment of real self-pity that I hope will not be repeated, because I need to focus on the positives and embrace this and move forward happily if I really, really want to help my kid.

I know there are worse things out there, but I am so tired of the constant shrinking of our diet. I just want to be able to eat out with my family at a restaurant. I want to be able to throw a frozen pizza in the oven on days when I’m exhausted and can’t face cooking from scratch. I want to be able to travel, even just on a day trip, without packing and carrying an entire suitcase full of food.

But most of all, I want someone to figure out what the HELL causes allergies, then tell me what I have to do to fix it. It is so hard, so hard, not to feel like we are somehow at fault, that something in our house or lifestyle is causing it. I could live with the allergies if only I felt like this was the end of the line. Living with the idea that any food, previously considered safe, will suddenly become un-safe is very, very hard.

I find I am envious of people who have kids with just one allergy. People who can eliminate that one food and then carry on their merry way. And don’t even mention it to me if your kid had an allergy, then outgrew it. It only makes me want to rant, wail, and scream until someone tells me what you did, that I didn’t do. How did you fix it? How can I?

Deep breath.

Pull up the bootstraps.

Time to keep calm and carry on. I’m steering this effort and I need to buck up, soldier. Self-pity is getting me nowhere.

On a side note, anyone with some great gluten-free recipes or cookbooks to recommend is my new best friend. Bring on the suggestions.

32 thoughts on “Gluten Tag

  1. I can only imagine how overwhelming it must have been to have yet another food scratched off the list. I would have had a good cry, too. Hope the Internet comes through for you and you get a bunch of cookbook and recipe suggestions.

  2. I really feel for you! It is hard to figure out to make never mind with a shrinking list of things to make. There is nothing wrong with crying, or swearing, or both.

    My favorite new cookbook is full of traditional, family recipes with many adapted to be Gluten Free. It is called Mennonite Girls Can Cook – one of the authors adapted her traditional family recipes to eliminate gluten (but none of the other stuff). (send me an email if you want to know which ones are gluten free).

    Hopefully you will find some awesome new recipes to inspire you.

  3. Lucky Sevens

    Hi Lynn

    I have quite a few gluten free recipie books. I can lend them to you if you would like. If you have a specific type of food you are looking to replace, I can do some of the leg work for you and search through them to find a suitable recipie for your family!
    Just let me know!

    Lucky Sevens

  4. Oh, I’m sorry. Food allergies must be so hard. I have a number of friends with children with Celiac, and I know that many gluten-free products also contain nuts, sadly. But like you say, thank god we live when we do – so many allergen-free products. Blergh. I’m sorry you have to go through that. Yes, there may be a lot worse things but allergies just plain suck, and that’s the truth.

  5. Sadly, my 2 go-to gluten-free cookie recipes use almond flour.

    However, the author of one of the other blogs I follow has recently gone gluten-free, and she posted just the other day with some tips: . The post includes links to some recipes and products. Obviously, she’s not also dealing with the other dietary restrictions that you are, but it’s probably a good start, especially the link to making an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (note: I haven’t actually followed that link yet myself, I hope it’s useful).

    My brother-in-law is currently investigating whether or not he has celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten, or something similar, so the topic has caught my interest in recent weeks. I hope you’ll share any excellent recipes you find.

    1. Thanks for the link – it had some great ideas! I had to laugh at her suggestion to not buy every single gluten-free product you see at the health food store – TOO LATE ALREADY. I think I cleaned out the Rainbow Foods on the weekend.

      If I find some good recipes I will definitely post them.

  6. Lynn, I really feel for you. E has a dairy allergy (yes, only one) and I have the same feelings about where it came from or if I could have prevented it. I grew up on a dairy farm and it was a hard adjustment, but like you said, it becomes easier after awhile and you get in a good routine. I’m sure it will be the same with the gluten, but I don’t underestimate the huge learning curve it will take. Keep up the amazing work you are already doing with preparing meals. You are a great Mom – you got this 🙂 P.S. I also love Enjoy Life.

  7. Rheostaticsfan

    Oh, I’m SO sorry. And, there’s nothing wrong with self pity in well defined doses. Sometimes you’ve earned it.


  8. Oh Lynn, I wish I had something I could say that would make you feel better. If I was with you in person I would hug you 😦 If I see anything I will e-mail you. Just ask Julie, I do that all the time (I worry I am bugging people)

  9. I have a friend who has been going throught the same allergies and sensitivities with her husband, I’m going to tweet to you both.

  10. Mrscarlsagan

    I am so sorry to hear this. I borrowed Quinoa 365 by Patrica Green from the library a few months ago and I remember there being some gluten-free recipes.

    1. I know C has a lot of the same allergies so it’s very heartening to hear that they eventually leveled out. I have my fingers crossed that this is the last one but if it is not, you will HEAR ABOUT IT.

      I’m just about to look into updating my fast-food bible that I keep as per your original idea. I hope to find at least a few things to keep us going while we’re on the run!

  11. just catching up on some blog reading today and came across this. i am sending you the biggest squeeziest virtual hug. i would have completely fell apart, and for longer than a moment. well, as the saying goes, the universe only dishes out what you can handle, but wouldn’t you just like to kick the crap out of the universe some days?

    i’ve got a gf cookie cookbook. i know most of the recipies call for eggs and butter. there are a couple of vegan recipes in it. i’ll copy those down and send them to you (if the flours are nut based!). chantal has sent me some good links. and anything i come across i’ll send you way.

    i hope you have found some good resources online. bless the power of the interwebs!

  12. smokingtoaster

    Waves upon waves of sympathy from me to you. I can barely cope with just regular kid eating issues (one refuses all dairy — no allergy issues, though — and one pretty much only eats dairy), so I have no idea how you cope when you can’t rely on McD’s and frozen foods. Some of Evan’s first words were “Denny’s” and “Taco Bell”.

    Just hang in there.

  13. That sounds hard. I feel for all of you.

    I have a friend whose daughter is gluten, soy and egg free. I will have to ask her to pass on some recipes.


    1. Thanks Jay! We’ve ordered from NoNuttin in the past but the soy thing does make me nervous, so these days I am sticking with EnjoyLife which is fairly widely available in Ottawa. The NoNuttin blog is great though – lots of good real life tips and products to recommend.

  14. Wow. That’s got to be hard.

    I’ve got a mild food intolerance (peppers), and I know how annoying it is to work around in a restaurant. I’ve often said that if it were an allergy, I’d never eat out because a lot of people just don’t take them seriously.

    I hope his allergies stabilize (or, ideally, improve).

  15. Amelia Witherspoon

    Did a quick search online and found this site. Might be helpful, although I’m sure you have dozens of these bookmarked. I’ll ask my friends at work if they have any gluten-free recipes to die for — they also have that allergy.

  16. That’s a lot to manage. I can’t imagine. I always feel bad for families who are dealing with multiple and major allergies because it’s such a challenge. Thank goodness there are so many products out there. We feared Brandon was going to be gluten intolerant. Nothing wheat or oat-related went down well for him for over a year. Then one day his daycare gave him a huge bowl of oatmeal (which had previously caused epic bouts of vomiting) and I waited on pins and needles for the call to pick him up. It never came.

    I hope you have a similar ending.

  17. Lynn, I’m so glad you posted this, reaching out to people. I’m heartened by the responses, sympathy and practical suggestions! I have only sympathy, my friend; my family is one of the lucky ones. Big ((HUG)) as you keep calm and carry on!

  18. That must be so incredibly frustrating. especially around this time of year!
    Poor you.
    If I come up with any great (easy) recipes I’ll send them your way.

    It does make you wonder what exactly is happening to our food these days, and it’s pretty scary.
    hang in there.

  19. I guess I’m posting late, but if you look @ Paleo diet cookbooks, they may have some things that are useful. They’re usually low on nuts, and no soy/legumes, no dairy. They do make some use of coconut, though and sometimes eggs, so you’ll have to take a look.

    “Well Fed” by Melissa Joulwan is one i just ordered – her website ‘the’ has some awesome recipes.

    My daughter is allergic to dairy, and some nuts ( hopefully next week I’ll find out which ones so we don’t have to do trial and error vomit test on our own) so the Paleo diet has been working well for all of us, including hubby and me who are allergy free, but lugging around a bunch of extra weight. Good luck!!!

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