Gift Ideas: Good and Bad for Friend with Celiac Disease

Check it twice: A list of gifts NOT to buy for the gluten-free folks you love this Christmas

What NOT to get an Allergic Foodie for Christmas! Love Molly’s funny and truthful list.
If you want some gift ideas for the allergic foodie in your life–hint, hint–check out my GIFTS FOR AN ALLERGIC FOODIE on Pinterest.
Five shopping days left!

Based on a Sprue Story

It’s December! Snow is falling, friends are calling, and ’tis the season for every blogging boy and girl to post their personal Christmas wish lists, disguised as suggestions of what totally unrelated people might want to buy for some other person who happens to be extremely similar to them.

Look around, and you’ll see gift suggestions for fitness freaks (compiled by fitness freaks), tech geeks (compiled by tech geeks), book lovers (compiled by book lovers), home cooks (compiled by home cooks), and the one who has everything (compiled by people who wish they had everything).

And, of course, you’ll see them for the gluten-free, by the gluten-free. Here are just a few sites with intriguing lists of these-are-not-hints for gluten-free kids like me:

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What Is This in My Food?

If you have a leaky gut like I do, you’ve probably already figured out the safest diet is eating only one-ingredient foods.  A piece of meat or fish. A fruit. A veggie.  My go-to meal at most restaurants is a filet of beef or salmon, spinach in olive oil, and a plain baked or sweet potato.

This diet can make me want to scream! 🙂

In the early days of my gluten-free, allergy-free diet, I’d venture out of my comfort zone and try something new that  a waiter or chef would suggest . . . and  I’d almost always pay the price with a gut ache the next day!

It’s tough to get to the bottom of every ingredient in every dish that you haven’t made yourself.

When I do eat prepackaged foods, my rule of thumb is to stick to those allergy-friendly foods with less than eight ingredients–and the fewer ingredients, the better.

But do you know what those ingredients listed in your “safe foods” are?  Guar gum and rennet, for instance.  I didn’t!

So I decided to do a little digging and write a post defining the common ingredients found in allergy-friendly and gluten-free foods.  That’s why you haven’t heard from me for a few weeks.  I’ve been busy researching.  And what I discovered is that much more needs to be said about ingredients, such as soy lecithin, than providing a simple definition.

Therefore, in future posts I will be examining some of the familiar ingredients we see in our gluten- and allergy-free foods: caramel coloring, guar gum, natural flavors, rennet, sodium acid pyrophosphate, soy lecithin, xantham gum and others.

I’d love to hear your suggestions, too!

Have you ever asked yourself: What is this in my food?

Eat Camera Strap

Eat Camera Strap (Photo credit: clappstar)

It’s Not Always About the Food

Too often my food allergies become the focus of dinners with friends. Yes, this allergic foodie does appreciate a good meal–and preferably one that won’t cause an allergic reaction–but sometimes dinner isn’t about what’s being served.

It’s about sharing time with people you care about.

Take last Friday night, my girl friend’s birthday celebration. We were dining at the Garden of the Gods Club in Colorado Springs.

The sun was setting on the magnificent rock formations, and deer played outside the picture window.  Yes, deer actually frolicked in the grass! A perfect evening.

Deer in Colorado Springs

The waiter arrived, and I stated my well-rehearsed litany of dietary needs.  He assured me the chef would prepare a spinach salad for a first course and gluten-free scallops with plain rice and a vegetable (sans butter or soy oil) for the main meal.

While my companions enjoyed warm rolls and butter, I sipped my tonic water with lime.  Nothing I haven’t done before.  (Well, I usually have a cosmo followed by wine, but I’ve been cutting back.)

“I’m so sorry you can’t eat these rolls,” my friend apologized.  “I won’t tell you how good they are.”

I chuckled.  “No problem,” I assured her.  “I’ll be hungrier for the salad.”

Then my salad arrived looking rather plain without the cheese and croutons.

“That’s it?  Don’t you want something else?” asked my concerned friend.

I assured her the salad was fine.  Sure, I admit it was underwhelming, but I wasn’t going to get sick and that was the important thing.  Being a part of my friend’s special occasion was what the evening was about.

When the main course arrived,  I immediately knew something was wrong with mine.  The rice and scallops were sitting on a pool of yellowish liquid. I didn’t even bother picking up my fork.

“This looks like a butter sauce,” I quietly told the waiter, not wanting to cause a scene.

“I’m sure it’s fine.  I told the chef no dairy–”  He stopped midsentence as I tilted the plate so he could get a closer look at the creamy liquid.

This is the part I always hate. You know the drill. As the waiter quickly takes my food away, everyone else politely sets their forks down.

“Please don’t wait. Eat while your food is hot,” I say. But that’s improper etiquette, and everyone feels uncomfortable eating in front of me. A few more convincing prompts from me and they finally dig in.

Unfortunately, while I wait, my well-intentioned and kind friends keep trying to give me tastes of their steaks. My husband knows better, of course.

“No thank you . . . no really, I can’t .  . . I can’t eat off your plate . . . mine will be here soon.”

They are halfway through their meals when the scallops sans the sauce arrives. No apology from the waiter.  But no big deal; the tasty scallops make up for the waiter’s lack of concern for my gastrointestinal health.

Even with my meal here, my friends keep trying to feed me. Getting a tad annoyed, I say a little too loudly, “I have my own food!”   Then I laugh, a bit embarrassed.

For dessert, I am thrilled the restaurant serves homemade sorbet. I can have dessert while the birthday girl and the husbands enjoy cake.

The thing is my girl friend still wants me to taste the cake.  When I resist, she insists I at least eat the strawberries.

It is my husband who speaks up. “She can’t eat the strawberries because they are contaminated with the flour from the cake and whatever’s in that sauce.”

Once again, my eating challenges have become central stage.

Of course, those of us with celiac disease and food allergies must be vigilant about what we put into our mouths, but sometimes don’t you want a night off?

Don’t you just want your food issues to take the backseat?  Order your allergy-free food quietly, discreetly take care of any issues that arise, and focus on your dinner companions and the conversation.

Afterall, it’s not always about the food.