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Keeping You Safe with Family and Friends when You Have Celiac Disease

Why is it important to let your family and friends know that you are living with Celiac Disease? In this episode I share with you why it's important and how to keep yourself safe.

This is a transcript taken from The Healthy Celiac Podcast. If you would prefer to listen to the podcast, you can do so here.

In this week's article, we're talking about what your friends and family need to know now that you're living with celiac disease. We're also going to be talking about cross-contamination .

All right . So by now, how have you been going with telling your friends and family that you've been diagnosed with celiac disease? What's the reaction been like? Are they being supportive? Have you been mocked? Have you been ridiculed or have you not told many people?

Because in the beginning it can be quite awkward. I know if people don't know what celiac disease is, it's hard to actually give them an education when you're just learning about it yourself. Right? So it is something that you do need to talk about, you do need to learn how to educate your family and friends so that when you do spend time with them, that they can help keep you safe.

Now, if you are living at home, say with your parents, or if you have your own family yourself, or maybe you've even got roommates, maybe you're renting and you share a house with other people, then you definitely need to be telling those people.

If you live on your own, it's a little bit easier because you can control your kitchen. You can control your pantry, your fridge, everything, you know, no one's messing around with your stuff , but when you live with other people, they need to know what's going on for you, because it is really important that you do keep safe and you keep all of your food gluten free . Okay? So, you know, you might want to sit down and have a chat with your family and friends. You might want to write a letter or an email, or, perhaps send out a group text or group message just to let them know what you're going through and that you need their support and that you need to have that guidance with you and make sure that they're on the journey with you.

I hear so many horror stories about, families and friends and even workmates that intentionally gluten their friend or their relative, that's been diagnosed with celiac disease. And I jus think that's one of the most cruel things... it's heartbreaking. So I pray that never happens to you. I just think that it's almost a form of torture. It's not okay. So I do actually talk about this in Ultimate Celiac System, my online course about how to deal with this, because it's not a rare occurrence. It actually happens to many, many people and it is abuse. It's just not okay. So yeah, if, if that is you, that's something that I delve into quite deeply in my course . So I'll pop a link for you here, but I really hope that's not something that you deal with. Um, yeah, we won't go into that in this episode cause that's quite deep, but yeah, if you are being mistreated, just know that you have rights, you actually have legal rights to make sure that you're safe. So I don't want you to be having to go through anything like that. And that's something that is not okay, but otherwise you need support from your family and friends. And I think the best way to get that is by explaining things, because if you don't tell people what you're going through or give them some information, it is hard for them to understand.

A lot of people have jumped on the gluten-free weight, loss, fashion, eating out bandwagon. And in a way I feel like it's kind of made a bit of a mockery of us that have to eat gluten free. You know, we have to eat gluten free for our health, whereas they're just choosing to eat gluten free and you know, they don't take it as seriously. So when we, as people with celiac disease have to eat gluten free, people might think it's a bit of a joke. Or, you know, we're just kind of making it a bit of an attention thing when we're not, we aren't. We would much rather be able to eat wha everyone else is eating and not have to worry about it. So it's definitely about education. You might want to share some information from some online websites or from the celiac Australia website. There's some great information on there. If you can educate the people in your lives, I think it is a little bit easier.

Me , myself, I'm going to say I was lucky. So when I got diagnosed, my Mum was actually diagnosed six months after me. Now in the first six months of me being diagnosed, my Mum was amazing. I was so lucky every time I'd go to her house, she would have found all these little snacks and little bits and pieces from the shops and she would get so excited and she'd be like , "Oh, Belinda, I found this at the shops and bought you, it's gluten free". And she'd be so excited that she could buy something and I could eat when I'd go to her house. And I was so lucky. And then, you know , one day she turned around to me and she was complaining how sore she was in the tummy. She was so fatigued and her joints were aching, all these things. And I, I kind of joked with her and I went, "Oh Mum , maybe you got celiac disease". And she's like, "Oh, maybe I do". And she got tested and low and behold, she had celiac disease as well. So we've been able to support each other. So I feel like I'm very lucky in that way.

My brother has also been diagnosed since and two of my uncles as well. So it is definitely in our family and, you know, it gets talked about at every gathering. It's just, you know, people make sure that we've got safe food and we're very lucky, but I do wonder what it would be like if I was the only person in our entire family that had had celiac disease. So, you might be that person that is the only, person that somebody knows with celiac disease. And no one knows how to deal with you or how to feed you. So you need to learn how to keep yourself safe and you need to teach those people around you.

Now, I want to talk to you about cross-contamination because I do think this is something that we don't get taught enough. I did talk about in last week's episode, how my doctor basically just said, just go and eat gluten-free there was nothing about, you know, that a crumb can damage your small intestines. If you accidentally get a crumb off your kitchen bench or whatever, there was nothing about that. I had to work it out for myself and looking back, you know, it would have been a lot t quicker process to feeling better had I been given the right information and the right education straight away.... even the dietician that I went and saw and spent hundreds of dollars on two appointments did not even teach me about cross-contamination . He basically gave me a booklet with some food in it that was like packaged. It was just information on packaged gluten-free food. There was nothing, nothing at all about, you know, which healthy grains to eat and you know, which options I had that weren't packaged. And I would've thought a dietician would teach that, but unfortunately, no. So yeah, those, you know , couple of hundred dollars would have been better spent on many other things. So yeah. Anyway, not bitter about that. Am I?

So cross-contamination is basically where let's just say your kids make a jam sandwich. So they have normal bread and they get the butter and the jam out of the fridge and they go make their sandwich, they put their knife in the butter, put it on their bread. Then they put the knife in the jam and put that on their bread. Chuck it back in the fridge, go and eat their sandwich. And then you come and make a sandwich and you use the same butter and the same jam, but you put it on your gluten-free bread. You are going to get cross-contamination. So, you know, even little things like that, you might not even think about that, but that is as simple as it is a crumb gets transferred from your kid's sandwich into the butter or the jam. And then you get that crumb and you put it on your gluten-free bread. That is cross-contamination my friend, same with chopping boards, toasters , you know, all of these different ways that crumbs or flour, anything that contains gluten could be transferred to your food. So you need to be very, very careful that you have your own separate food. We started to talk last week about going through your pantry and making sure what you have is safe. Now let's rewind back to that for a little bit, because if you have anything in your pantry that, if you're like me, you like to keep things in containers, rather than in the original packaging, you will probably need to chuck most of that out, or, you know, only your family members eat . I don't know whether it's been cross contaminated previously. So I personally chucked out all normal flours. I just didn't want to risk having that in my house because it's just too risky being airborne. But if you have , just say some package, Oh , let me think what would be a good example. Obviously, pasta, that would be something I would just say, chuck it out. Many people with celiac disease cook normal pasta for their family and have gluten free pasta for themselves. Honestly, the gluten-free pasta that is that good these days. And when you cook it, right, no one even knows the difference. So I just think it's easier that everyone has the same gluten-free pasta. Then if there's leftovers, you don't have to stress that you're going to accidentally eat the normal pasta. So yeah, things like that, you know, I personally just think it's easier just to get rid of it, you know, give it to other family members or friends that will eat it. But yeah, you need to go through your food and make sure that all of your food is safe in your fridge.

We have little GF labels on anything that is just for gluten-free. So just for myself, no one else is allowed to use it. I actually have a little, it's not a cupboard , but it's kind of a shelf in the fridge with a plastic flap on it that you physically have to open to get my things out of this. I've got condiments in there. So I've got a jam, I've got a butter, I've got a relish. Um, I've got some things I sprinkle on my meals, such as my homemade , vegan Parmesan and some different mixes. So no one touches that stuff because it's mine and it's got GF labels on it. So people know in my family, that's out of bounds, that's Mums, they just don't even bother going near it. So that is brilliant.

You do need to have your separate condiments. Here in Australia I am a big fan of all of the good old Vegemite . So, for years I couldn't have Vegemite and I was devastated, absolutely devastated because Vegemite is not gluten free, but then a few years back, they brought out a gluten-free version of it. So I it's labeled gluten free. It's not overly obvious because the packaging pretty much looks like Vegemite. So I still stick my big gluten-free sticker on it. It's just a big black bold sticker with GF written on it. I stick that on the top of it so that if my family accidentally grabbed that one out of the pantry, they'd see that and go, Oh, whoops that's Mums and put it back. So I am lucky in that way that, you know, my teenage daughter can read but, my son, my youngest daughter, they are too little to get their own food yet. So I still get it. So you just, yeah, you got to keep things separate.

All of my pantry items we have labeled in jars and we have got everything in there with GF on it. If it's GF and there's some items that, you know, my husband eats or my teenage daughter eats, that's not gluten-free and that just stays in a separate area of the pantry. And, you know, I just stay away from it and it stays away from my food. So there's no risk of that.

Now when I make toast, which isn't all the time, I'm not a big toast eater, but I do love my homemade baked beans and poached eggs on toast for breakfast occasionally I'll pop a link actually to that baked beans recipe for here, because it's incredible. And I have that on toast occasionally. And the thing with toast is you have got a huge risk of cross-contamination if you put your bread in the toaster that everyone else puts their normal bread in. So, because we don't have, well, I don't have toast too often. I don't personally see the need for two toasters. If I was eating toast every day, I would have my own separate toaster. But what I do is I use toaster bags. So the toaster bags just sit inside the toaster and I just put my bread in their toaster and then it's safe. So you can pick those up at a lot of discount stores. Some supermarkets sell them as well, or you might find them online. And you know, they are only a couple of dollars, so they're worth having and awesome for traveling as well. I find that you can usually find gluten-free bread when you're out and about if you're staying at someone's house or whatever. So, you know, you just have those bags and you've got an easy breakfast without having to, you know, stock a pantry when you're staying at people's houses. That's a good way of avoiding cross-contamination in a toaster, but yeah, you can have two toasters. My mum has a toaster, that's got four slots and she has two slots for my stepdad and she has two slots for herself and she's got a gluten-free sticker in front of the , two slots that she has just for herself. There's lots of different options that you can use to keep yourself safe.

If you are say renting or you're in college and you're renting with friends or you've moved out of home or whatever, and you live with other people, it might be worth keeping your food in just a separate cupboard. And you know, you have a separate cupboard for yourself and just put your food in there and then chat to your roommates or your housemates about why you need your food kept safe. And then talk to them about just having one shelf in the fridge, just for your food. I'd make it the top shelf. So nothing can fall down on your food. But yeah, if you can have the top shelf just for you, that it's going to keep your food much safer as well. And even though it's your food, just put gluten free all over it, you know , cover everything with gluten-free labels so that, it's another reminder to keep people away from your food. I'm a bit , um, what's the word I'm going to say. Pedantic. I'm very pedantic about my food and I'm very cautious because I get extremely sick when I accidentally get glutened that I don't want to ever feel that way. So I take every precaution possible that I'm not going to get cross-contaminated and that I stay safe.

I hope these ideas help you and make sure you check out the links that I've posted for you below. And if you have any questions, please send me a DM on Instagram because you'll help me come up with some awesome ideas to share with you on the Healthy Celiac Podcast. And I can support you further that way as well. So thank you so much for tuning in and I look forward to sharing more with you next week. Take care. Bye.

Check out my delicious Homemade Baked Beans recipe that I mentioned here

Grab your copy of 11 Mistakes People Make Living Gluten Free here

Learn more about Ultimate Celiac System here

Did you enjoy this episode? I'd love to hear from you on Instagram


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