A New Food Adventure...Gluten-free not just trendy but necessary

This has been my longest hiatus from posting since I started Mamma's Cooking over 6 years ago. This blog has morphed along with the changes in our family. Initially, I blogged about making food for my first baby. Then it went through her toddler years with the addition of her twin brothers and my back and forth working outside of the house, working from home and periods of hard work as a stay-at-home mom. That boomerang has continued for the past 4 years as I strive, like many, to find that balance between career, home and self.

If you follow me on Facebook you will have seen some of the recent changes to our family diet. Our weekly pasta nights, quesadilla nights, pizza nights and pancake Sundays have been turned upside down. My son, Paul, was diagnosed with Celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disorder that effects the stomach and esophagus. He had stomach issues for a while, we tried cutting out dairy to no avail and I asked his doctor to test him. Autoimmune disorders, including Celiac, run in my family. Today there is a simple blood test that can tell you if you are likely to have celiac. An endoscopy can confirm it. Let me tell you how fun that was with a 3 year old stubborn boy who hates being told what to do! The Celiac diagnosis is a blessing in disguise. Yes, I'd rather he did not have it, but if he gets "glutened" once it is not going to require an epi pen or hospitalization for an allergic reaction. Rather, if he is continually "glutened" it will have severe consequences for his health and growth. 

I thought gluten-free was just a trend. Everyone is going gluten-free. There are people, like Paul, who need to be completely gluten-free and others who do it to help them eat less processed food and live a healthier lifestyle. It has made us eat healthier. It also costs a lot more but we wouldn't think twice about paying for a medication, so why not pay more for gluten free foods to keep up health?

It has been overwhelming, but will be manageable. We eat lots of the same items, just healthier versions. Sure, Paul asks sometimes for Goldfish or cake, but there are so many alternatives these days that he is easily appeased and distracted. Visiting other people's houses and eating out are a challenge, but nothing that we cannot overcome.

This is a copy of the email we sent to family when we discovered the diagnosis, 

"Hope you all are well. We are settling in back at home after a whirlwind trip to Disney World last week. The kids had a blast! Fortunately and unfortunately, just before we left we got an official diagnosis of Celiac disease for Paul. He has had stomach issues for months and we have tried various things, but knowing that celiac and autoimmune diseases run in the our family, Marie pushed to have him tested and there is something to be said for a mother's intuition :) 

We just wanted to give you all a little information on Celiac if you are interested in learning more. We do not expect when we visit your homes for you to be fully prepared for gluten free meals. We will have a travel kit so we make sure to keep Paul safe. Unfortunately even a crumb can set off a flare up once gluten has been fully removed. We even had to buy a separate toaster, utensils, plates, tupperware, cutting boards, etc for our kitchen! Gluten is in things you wouldn't even think of like ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, some candies,some ice cream and more. He can't even have things made on equipment that may have wheat. Oats are a good example of something that is naturally gluten free but is often grown in the same fields and processed in the same factories as wheat, so it must say gluten free on the box/bag or else it is not safe.

We are trying to teach Paul not to accept food offered without asking first if it is gluten free, but for now are just not letting him accept offered food. He doesn't fully understand yet, but with the help of our GI and nutritionist at Children's and his teachers and nurse at his pre-school he will adapt :) 

Here is a link to some great information from Children's:http://www.childrenshospital.org/centers-and-services/programs/a-_-e/celiac-disease-program/support-group 

If you have any questions, let us know."

We have been grilling a lot and eating brown rice pasta and taco shells that are gluten free. We found a great gluten free pizza crust (Udi's) that works really well until I figure out my own recipe. We  still have pizza night, taco Tuesday and pancake Sunday, just modified. There are so many wonderful foods that are naturally gluten free, we just need to make sure that they are not processed with any wheat, rye, barley or related products. 

Paul is now feeling better, smiling, potty trained!!!!, and enjoying life as a healthy 4 year old. My new bucket list and food challenges will come, but this year keeping everyone healthy is first on our minds. I hope you'll stay with me as I document this journey.

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