Friday, December 5, 2014

Gluten Free for Love

On our first date, my fiancé and I sat across from each other is a cozy little pub in the middle of no-where New Hampshire.  As we discussed appetizers he said "yeah, I'm one of those annoying people who has to be gluten free," as if it were a quirky personality trait.  Well, weeks later, I learned that it is not be a quirky personality trait, but in fact celiac disease, a serious auto-immune response to gluten that causes gastrointestinal and neurological issues.

Now, here's the thing- I've read a lot of blog posts from people who helped a loved one through the transition to gluten free living.  This was not the case.  Mr. Fiancé has been diagnosed a decade prior; he had been living with this and making it work for a long time.  And, well, let's just say I'm a little dense.  "Gluten-free, easy enough!" I thought!  And it was, for a while.  Of my favorite recipes, probably about 20 of them are already gluten free, and Mr. Fiancé had a good mental list of safe restaurants and fast food places.  I have a tomato-allergy myself, so I already had a decent working knowledge of cross-contamination and reading food labels, so I figured we had this all worked out.

But then, a few months in, we began to see that perhaps this wasn't so easy.  The change in our routine as we began dating seriously- eating out, cooking in my contaminated kitchen, kissing a girl who ate gluten all the time- had clearly taken a toll on his health.  One day, after he knew he had been exposed by a careless waitress (who brought him gluten pasta and didn't notice until he'd eaten a few bites) he declared, "um...if my speech starts slurring or if I limp, don't freak out."  All of a sudden, I was sure I needed to think much more seriously about this gluten free thing.  This was nothing like my simple tomato allergy.

Now, engaged and preparing to create a home together, I'm changing the way I think about gluten free.  I know our soon-to-be shared kitchen will need to be gluten free, and I know we'll want our future kids to eat mostly gluten free (celiac has some genetic factors), and I know that once we're living closer together, I'll want to limit the gluten I eat to avoid putting him at risk (I'm not super interested in having to brush my teeth to keep my kisses safe :-)).

I'm someone who has always shown my love through cooking and baking.  Sharing a meal is at the heart of relationships for me.  So, I'm learning to cook and bake food we both like and can eat. Right now, we're both crazy busy, and I am also learning what convenience foods are safe,  and we're slowly finding brands that we both enjoy (I swear he had forgotten what bread was supposed to taste like).

-if you or someone you love is changing the way they eat and prepare food to eliminate gluten...
-if you occasionally break out in a cold-sweat while googling the anti-caking agent in the shredded cheese you just threw in the casserole...
-if you've been known to lecture waitstaff on the dangers of thinking gluten-free living is just a fad...
WELCOME, you're in good company.


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