An Allergic Foodie Admits Mistakes

An Allergic Foodie Admits Mistakes

At the risk of losing a few readers who rely on me for gluten-free and allergy-friendly wisdom, today I’m coming clean.


An Allergic Foodie has made some mistakes. Some really, really bad mistakes.

To my defense, that little piece of paper the allergist handed me listing twenty foods that may contain gluten was a joke. Please also keep in mind that in addition to having to eliminate gluten from my diet due to celiac disease, I am also allergic to soy, dairy, corn and a host of other foods and spices. (Like vanilla and nutmeg. Who’s allergic to vanilla and nutmeg?)

Eliminating multiple foods from one’s diet is NOT easy. Especially when you don’t have any nutritional science background (unless you count several attempts at Weight Watchers) and your cooking skills involve opening a box and adding water.

Here are a few of my favorite blunders (I find it fun to sing this line to the tune of “Here are a few of my favorite things”):

I thought “Wheat Free” meant “Gluten Free.”

Yes, I ate several packages of Newman’s Figs before realizing they were full of gluten. I mean if you can’t trust Paul Newman, who can you trust?

An Allergic Foodie Admits Mistakes

I followed the three-second rule: “Those croutons were only on the salad for three seconds!”

Doesn’t matter!  A nanosecond of cross-contamination will make me sprint to the restroom as if my feet were on fire.  By the way, at Outback Steakhouse “Sheilas” means ladies’ restroom–found that out the hard way.

Didn’t know that spelt was gluten.

Spelt Bread is NOT gluten FreeThe week I found out I had celiac disease I bought a big loaf of spelt bread.  After all,  it wasn’t “Wheat Bread” so it must be gluten free.  And it tasted like cardboard,  so it must be gluten free.  Spelt caused me to crawl under my bed for seven days. Not exaggerating.

Didn’t know barley was gluten.

Put this soup on your MOST NOT-WANTED LIST. Do it now.

People with celiac disease should stay away from barley!

I skimmed ingredient lists.

This was back in the days when I thought I could buy foods that contained more than five ingredients. I also hadn’t yet accepted that I needed reading glasses (now I keep a magnifying glass in my pantry!).  I also hadn’t gotten my PhD in nutritional studies. Okay, I still don’t have a PhD, but I think I’m pretty darn smart about food allergies and celiac disease. Read my post What Is This in My Food?Maltodextrin.  Smart, huh?

I was shy in restaurants.

I’m an introvert. I don’t like to make a fuss. I don’ t like to draw attention to myself. These are not good characteristics for someone who eats out a lot and has many special dietary requirements. Here’s how I ordered the first few times I ate out after diagnosis:

“Just bring me a vegetable salad with olive oil and lemon, no bread, no croutons.”

Here’s how I order now:

“I have allergies and celiac disease. So no gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, or corn.  Did you write that down?  Let’s see, I’ll have the burger with no bun, no cheese, and please don’t cook the meat in butter, and use a piece of foil on the grill. And can you make sure the fries aren’t cooked with other fried foods, or in corn or soy oil.  If it says vegetable oil, it may be soy oil.  Read the label. Do you make your catsup in-house? I can’t have corn syrup . . .”  You get the drift.

I paid a “Wellness Coach” $500.

C’mon, who wouldn’t pay $500 to rid themselves of multiple food allergies and celiac disease? After my first appointment, I got home and checked the ingredients of the Miracle Shake that was going to cure my leaky gut.  Contained gluten and vanilla!  I’d been scammed! Any one out there interested in buying a case of  a Miracle Shake that will cure your celiac disease and/or food allergies?  I’ll throw in the box of Magnetic Clay Detox Bath Beads that will also rid your body of evil toxins.  (Note: There are some good wellness coaches out there: just make absolutely sure she/he is qualified and has a background in food allergies and celiac disease.)

I stopped drinking vodka.

Stupid, stupid mistake. People who I called friends told me vodka was made from wheat, not from potatoes as I’d always thought, so I tearfully said goodbye to martinis. But then I read on a reputable website that distilled liquor was okay for celiacs. Hooray! I celebrated with a Cosmo or two or three (I know, Cosmos are so outdated, but I just can’t find a martini I like better. Suggestions?)

People with celiac disease can drink distilled liquor.

A side note: Chopin Vodka is made entirely from potatoes and has become my vodka of choice.  (Okay, so maybe I didn’t give up ALL vodka in those early days).

I’ll stop here because the experts say blog posts should be kept short to retain reader interest. The point to my admitting these early-diagnosis mistakes is this: Learning to live with celiac disease and food allergies takes practice, patience, perseverance and maybe a pair of reading glasses.  But in time, you will become a pro–and you will start feeling good!

If you liked An Allergic Foodie Admits Mistakes, you may like  To Eaters of Everything and  What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013.

An Allergic Foodie Admits Mistakes originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Hate When I Poison My Kids

Recently I gave my two sons food that made them sick. I mailed the youngest in college cereal that was not gluten-free and served my oldest dairy.

I poisoned them!

Gluten is Poison for SomeAfter five years of gluten- and dairy-free cooking and shopping, you’d think I’d have this celiac/allergy thing down by now. But nope, I still make mistakes.

Now my “kids” are young men and can fend for themselves. They are certainly capable of reading labels. However, I’ve been their mother much longer than they’ve been coping with celiac disease and a dairy allergy and they trust me. If I mail them a college care package, they’ll believe the food is safe. If I put the plate on the table, they won’t question whether they can eat it.

Well, they used to trust me.

Until I poisoned them.

A while back Costco carried 24-oz packages of Udi’s Natural Artisan Granola and the packaging said “soy free, wheat free, dairy free.”  I assumed it was the same Udi’s gluten-free granola I always ate. But I should have noted “wheat free” versus “gluten free.”  I didn’t. That is until just this week when I was eating it myself and I realized the oats weren’t certified gluten-free oats. Well, that explains the weeks College Boy was doubled over in pain. Oh a mother’s guilt.

Then there was the memorable Thanksgiving meal. We ordered a turkey, sides and gravy from a trusted source. I ensured–over and over again–that the food didn’t contain gluten. I forgot to ask if the gravy had dairy.  Poor kid worked the night shift and spent Thanksgiving evening in the bathroom. The gravy was made with heavy cream!

And these lentils  . . .  how did I miss the red wording: Contains Dairy.

Dairy in ingredients

If you’re a parent, you understand parental guilt. It’s okay if I eat the wrong thing, but it’s never okay for me to feed my kids gluten/dairy-containing food.

Luckily, my boys have forgiven me, though I’ve noticed them checking ingredient lists more.

That’s probably a good thing.


If  you like this post, you may also like:

Celiac Disease Wasn’t a Part of the College Plan

I’m a Picky Eater and Proud of It!

Hate When I Poison My Kids first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.