Gluten Free Celiac Security

With their high-tech cameras, infrared lighting and loud sirens, security systems accent everything we care about, from our houses to our cars. For a celiac, though, there is another security system: the one we mentally acquire when gluten turns into the ultimate intruder

As I've transformed from a gluten free newbie to a well-educated celiac with one year under her belt, though, my security system has started to lag

This rang far too often!
Because my dad and sister still eat gluten, while my household is 99% GF, there still can be particles on the counter or bread in the fridge. When I was newly diagnosed, I was paranoid about every crumb. Did I wipe the kitchen today? Could I cook both pizzas (gluten and gluten free) at the same time in the oven? What if? What if? That first year, my inner security system pinged "gluten" every chance it got. 

But, now that celiac is a regular member of the family, I realized that I am no longer always on red-alert. Of course, if I see one of the rare gluten-filled treats, I don't take a bite and think, "Oh I haven't gotten sick for a while. I must be cured!" When bagging a chocolate chip cookie for my dad, though, I washed the crumbs off my hands before touching my own lunch with a lazy, "Better safe than sorry!" 

Cookie at large!
I'm not sorry that I've grown more comfortable with navigating the gluten-filled mazes of the world. I'm not sorry that I no longer spend hours worrying over whether the food I just prepared was absolutely, definitely, 100% free of any possible gluten contamination. 

Because, as I learned my first year when I was glutened even while my body checked for gluten at every corner, sometimes crud happens. Sometimes you grab the wrong ingredient or trust the wrong company and your stomach pays for it. 

Eating a Milky Way at Halloween was my mistake...
Nonetheless, my lackadaisical reaction scared me. Scares me because I am my biggest health advocate. If I don't stress the importance of one crumb, how can I expect restaurant owners to do the same to their workers and chefs

For me, this relationship between self-care and the care of others is exactly what Celiac Awareness Month is all about. Not only is May a time for us to educate others, express our dietary needs and celebrate celiac as a part of our identity, but it is also the time for every celiac to become aware of their own places to improve

Are you frustrated with your bland, repetitive gluten free dinners? Test out some new recipes! Do you feel lonely and misunderstood because of celiac complications? Find a support group or connect online! And, in my case, is fulfilling your celiac needs becoming dangerously routine? Then think back. Think back to past advice, past glutenings - anything to bring back the passion to advocate for and protect your health! 

This is my motivation!
Few security systems grow better with age, our homes and cars upgrading to newer, faster versions. In terms of the security of a celiac against gluten, though, this system of caution and cleaning is all we have. So we have to treat it right and remember - especially during Celiac Awareness Month - that we are responsible for our own health and happiness. And only after we have nourished it in ourselves can we pass on celiac advocacy to the next person in the chain.

*This post is also found at runningwithspoon's link party! Yay!*

Do you tend to grow more lax in celiac precautions after a period of no-glutenings? What could you improve? Comment below! 


  1. If anything, I'm more afraid after having gone some months without an obvious glutening. On the one hand, I'm happy that I haven't been obviously glutened since back in month two on the diet. On the other hand I'm concerned that I may be what they call a "silent celiac", and am reacting to cross contamination and minor glutenings, but just not in ways obvious to me. My anemia wasn't improving after several months, so my doctor recommended an iron supplement. It's about time to have that checked with some blood tests. Meanwhile, am I really improving, or is ole debil gluten having its way with me, just without obvious symptoms? True, obvious symptoms would be worse in a way (leg cramps, daily heartburn, roily gut, near-diarrhea and nasty gas were no fun), but not knowing if I'm taking good enough care of myself is worrisome, too. Are my villi really recovering? Have I been too lax, or have I, in my engineer and fussy way, protected myself adequately? Time will tell, I guess. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the improvements I've experienced on a GF diet, and hope I'm not being foolishly happy.

    BTW, check your library(ies) for a book, _Gluten-Free Pasta_, by Robin Asbell. My wife brought a copy home from our local library, and we've been trying some recipes from it. Had "Penne with Tuscan Kale and Blue Cheese" tonight (although used Trader Joe's GF spirals and some other kind of kale instead of the Tuscan kale and penne). Pretty good dish, although the kale was pretty chewy. Sometimes living gluten free isn't so bad. {G}

    1. "Foolishly happy." I LOVE that phrase!! I hope you can stay foolishly happy and that soon I'll reach that same level. I totally agree with you on the silent celiac - I always worry that when I'm eating in my college's cafeteria, even though my food is prepared separately, that I'm getting small amounts of gluten that is just enough to keep me a little tired and nauseous without causing a major glutened reaction.

      Thanks for the advice on the pasta! That sounds delicious :)

  2. Your blog hates me! I always leave such lovely long comments, (from my phone) cause I like to read new posts before bed, and they never work! SIGH!

    To sum up my LENGTHY comment :)
    1. A well written post as always!
    2. I actually am the opposite, the longer I have had Celiac, the more adamant I have been about cross contamination and how strict I am. At first, my lack of knowledge of the severity of cross contamination led me to feel "a little crumb can't hurt" and to be careless in cross contamination and the sharing of kitchen space/food with others. Grapes on a plate with crackers/bread? No problem, I'll just eat the grapes, NO! there could be crumbs I can't see. My strict new policies are not welcomed by all and often I will hear "will a crumb really matter?" My answer, I don't know, but it's MY body and MY health, so I can be as strict as I want if I am trying to be safe! Amp up your security girl <3

    1. NOOOO!!! Stupid blog! Bad blog! Bad! I've put it in the corner to punish it for you. Oh, yep, the phone is definitely the problem. Sometimes I try to reply via my phone and long posts don't work for there. Computer all the way!

      Thanks for the comment and yep, I agree that for the most part, I'm usually on the straight and narrow with celiac security. You just never know and the pain and fatigue afterward definitely isn't worth that single grape! That is a GREAT answer by the way! I will definitely use that response in the upcoming college year. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  3. I love this post so much Casey! I'm terrible about this-- I certainly fall into the trap where things are going so well then I screw it all up. haha Why do we do this to ourselves!? I think my biggest downfall is eating at restaurants and not being as careful as I should. The rule I've stated for myself is only eat at restaurants with designated gluten free prep areas, no exceptions! Also, I just read your summer post as well-- you'll do great with all your travels. Can't wait to read about your adventures!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! Restaurants are definitely the hardest. For me, it is especially hard when I've already eaten there before and been fine because I get a fake sense of safety - they're okay, so I don't need to stress celiac as much. Hah! Funny how illoigcal our brains are sometimes. Great rule! I definitely follow that one too. Some adventures definitely coming up! :)


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