No, I have not been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Celiac is another autoimmune disease that occurs in about one half of one percent of the general population. However, according to JDRF, about 1 in 10 people with Type 1 Diabetes is eventually diagnosed with Celiac. According to ADA standards just released, as many as 16 percent of Type 1s could be living with Celiac. During this week, I’ll be living and writing about the gluten-fee life from the perspective of someone newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Thanks to Nikki at Celiabetes for her very valuable information and feedback for this series.
One thing was certain as I woke up this morning: I needed to go to the grocery store.
So you would think that shopping gluten free at the grocery store would be easy. Buy all fruits and vegetables, skip the chips and cookies aisle. Well, it’s not quite that easy.
What about meats? It turns out you can’t just pick up any kind of meat. Deli meats in particular are off limits. There are some packaged lunch meats that you can go with. But Every. Single. Thing. requires you to look at the nutritional labels and list of ingredients that come with them. You have to look for the obvious no-nos: No wheat, barley, rye, oat, or malt. But you also need to be aware of how things are processed, and where they’re processed, and when in doubt, put it back on the shelf. Because if you have Celiac Disease, any gluten is bad. And you just can’t take a chance.
According to Nikki:
“I do primarily stick to unseasoned, unprocessed protein/meat, and fruits and fresh veggies. It’s healthier anyway! Plan on staying away from any and all things in the deli. Nothing is safe, as cross contamination is very likely. Same with the meat deli; even if you find a gluten-free lunch meat, it’s likely been cross-contaminated on the meat-slicing machines that have been used to cut gluten-containing lunch meat and cheeses.”
Once I made my way through the produce– green onions, kumato tomatoes (if you knew how the everyday red tomatoes are grown, picked, and processed in the American Southeast, you’d never eat another one again), leeks, lettuce, potatoes, strawberries. Next came the deli counter. After Nikki’s input, I just passed it by. Then through the aisle with all of the cereal, cereal bars, oatmeal, etc. I’m not a big cereal eater, so I didn’t get anything there. I did pick up a box of oatmeal for The Great Spousal Unit, which you’ll see in the back of the photo below (put it in a separate bag… not sure if that’s necessary, but better safe than sorry).
What I really wanted there was some instant grits. I love having instant grits and turkey sausage on a cold morning. When I looked at the ingredients on the back, I saw a lot of ingredients, but nothing that jumped out at me as gluten. Still, it didn’t seem right. So I had to do some additional research. I went to the Quaker website to see if their Quaker Instant Grits are really gluten free. Here’s what they said:
“The oats we buy are handled and transported in bulk by our suppliers. Cross contact can occur if the oats are grown in fields or transported in vehicles that once contained other grains. Since the kernels of the other grains are similar in size, shape and color to the oat kernel, it is almost impossible to separate them.
Although wheat, rye and barley are not part of the ingredients in Quaker Steel Cut, Quaker Old Fashioned, Quaker Quick Oats, Corn Bran Crunch, Grits and Cornmeal there is the possibility that they could contain trace amounts of these grains. For these reasons, we’ve never claimed these products are gluten free.”
Fair enough, Quaker. I’ll have to wait on the grits until next week.
As I made my way through the store, I found myself examining every product label in a way that I haven’t for years. And I found a few surprises. I found a breakfast sausage that is gluten free. I also found a package containing “Crispy Battered Gluten Free Haddock” from a company called Starfish. Plus, I found a gluten free pizza dough mix and gluten free lunch meat. So it won’t be all roughage and blandness this week.
What did I eat today?
Breakfast: Same as yesterday. Green onions, some frozen peppers from our garden this summer, and a kumato tomato. I put all of that in my bowl with a couple of eggs and that was my breakfast. I should probably modify my carb count for the small amount of tomato in this breakfast. Total carb count: 5g
Lunch: Salad with lunch meat, chopped carrots, olives (I love olives), sunflower seeds (I love sunflower seeds too), and tomato. Total carb count: 20g (a whole tomato this time)
Dinner: I started with a small salad. Then, we made pizza!
Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust mix and DelGrosso pizza sauce are both gluten free. And their product labels make a big deal out of being gluten free and keeping their product free from cross-contamination.
It’s a little weird working with a gluten free pizza mix. Everything winds up a little wetter than a flour-based crust. I was wondering if it would hold up under sauce, a little ham, and tomato. In the end, it held up well. The finished product was close enough to a gluten filled pizza that I really couldn’t tell much of a difference. I would make and eat this again.
Total carb count: 48g (I had three slices of pizza… it must have been pretty good)
The grocery store hurdle is out of the way. Most of what I have to worry about now is cross-contamination, I think. And possibly getting bored with this type of eating. Time to get creative. Look out gluten free websites. I’m on the lookout for recipes. More to come.
Carb counts are estimates only. Check with a registered dietician to find out what a healthy carb count is for you.