So, what kind of (informative) blog would this be if we didn’t talk about cross contamination?
In Dubai there was no support network for Celiacs, very few good dieticians and often NO information given to people at the time of diagnosis. I took the educating myself to extremes, I had no choice! My work with Gluten Free UAE means I have spent alot of time with newly diagnosed people helping them to learn ‘their new way of life’, many of the good gastros in Dubai still give out my card and send people to my website (GlutenFree – UAE). One of the main reasons one dr. would send people my way was when patients had a repeat blood test and the levels had not gone down enough (gluten antibodies in the blood). I would meet these people, either alone or in a coffee morning setting, many also came to my house. So let me share with you my experience….
The biggest reason someones blood levels are still high after adopting a gluten free diet is one of two things, either you are eating or drinking something every day that you simply overlooked and you think its glutenfree, it may be your brand of alcohol (!) for the evening tipple or your favourite condiment. Even juice at times! But more often then not, the reason is cross contamination.
It is simply not enough to eat gluten free, if you are Celiac, it is also vital to make sure your food does not come in to contact with gluten. If you have celiac kids then you would probably also want to ensure all their arts and crafts materials are gluten free aswell. All it takes is a hand touching gluten and accidentally touching a lip that then gets licked. Really, for many that is all it takes.
In our home, the risks now are small, teeny weeny even, simply because there is no gluten in it. Its the easiest way and by far the least stressful way. Its more expensive at first, but once you learn to shop smart and buy and make REAL food, the costs will go down.
In a shared home however, the dangers are many.
- Chopping boards can not only harbour bacteria, but also gluten, use separate chopping boards
- Draining pasta should be done in separate culinders, residue from the wheat pasta almost always remains even after washing
- Spatulas and other utensils, both plastic that is scratched and wood can hold on to gluten, so either use well washed metal ones or have separate items.
- Plastic storage containers can harbour gluten in tiny scratches, use separates
- Non stick pans should be separate for gluten and gluten free as they can harbour gluten
- Dish cloths and sponges can transfer gluten to your gluten free items, use separates
- Dishwashers (yes I know), make your dishwasher either gluten free and hand wash gluten stuff or the other way around. If you make your dishwasher gluten free, take all the arms and bits apart and clean everything properly, the stuff that hides in there is absolutely scary!
- Gluten free food should be kept separate from other foods.
- Use your own butter, jam etc, no sharing of knives at breakfast!
- Do not share a toaster (or waffle iron, toastie maker etc)
- If gluten flour is ever used in the kitchen then please remember that gluten dust can stay in the air for 12 hours easily, all gluten free foods, utensils etc should be safely stored away from this dust. Ideally, a house with a celiac in it shouldn’t use wheat flour at all, but there are widely differing opinions on this. I say NO WAY!
- Hand soap (another crazy one) should be gluten free, especially the one you use in the kitchen. Again, this is a controversial one, but would you really want to wash your hands with gluten before touching your gluten free foods?
Some of the steps above are seen as ‘to much’ by some people, often those who were diagnosed a long long time ago, but of all the people sent to me by dr.’s who have followed this, not one has continued to have levels that are to high. It is also important to remember, that although some celiacs don’t react to a small trace of or some residue of…. the reaction and damage on the inside still occurs.
Celiac research is fast moving and advice now, today, is already very different from what it was 2-3 years ago, its important that we continue to educate ourselves and keep up with current recommendations. Some countries are also (sadly) very behind, as are countless dieticians. Don’t trust anyone or anything to blindly.
Read more about cross contamination here.
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