Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gluten Free--Diet or Lifestyle Choice?

Recently diagnosed as a Celiac or perhaps have non-Celiac gluten intolerance? All of a sudden you are faced with a "diet"! Yikes!

What in the heck do I do? Where do I start? How do I cope when eating with other people or in restaurants?

Telling you from personal experience, suddenly knowing you have to eliminate gluten completely from everything you can eat can be somewhat overwhelming. I know it was for me, and I a background in home economics with lots of courses in nutrition.

For me, the realization of the seemingly insurmountable task I was up against when I began to do MY OWN research and realized all the dangers of "hidden wheat", but that is another topic unto itself.

But, back to the topic at hand--diet versus life style! Which term do you prefer? I personally don’t like the word “diet”. Diet infers you are giving up something you want and enjoy. No one wants to feel they are being deprived, especially when it  comes to having to say good-bye to some of their favorite foods.

The reality is everyone is on a"diet" of some sort. That is right. Shocked? Maybe, but the reality is whether you are on a very restricted food protocol or can eat whatever and as much as you want, well, that is your "diet".

When my husband was diagnosed as severely gluten intolerant, I bristled at the idea of a "diet". During the 14 years I taught high school, I had a posted that stated "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." And, that was my precise philosophy when Rick received his diagnosis.

I made a personal resolution that we were adopting a new and exciting lifestyle. The only thing we were giving up was Rick’s feeling miserable, and my fear something was terminally wrong with the love of my life that could not be fixed.

Trading in my wheat laden food for a healthy, happy husband was a no-brainer. I was thrilled Rick’s severe health issues could be solved with a few changes in our "diet".

My approach to a gluten free diet begins with a positive attitude and a beautifully set table. I love challenges and solving problems. This was one challenge that I knew I was not only up to, but could exceed all expectations.

After purging my kitchen of every single thing that contained a smidgen of gluten and either tossing or sterilizing all equipment and utensils, I got busy converting recipes and developing new ones—all gluten free.

I quickly learned that having to “make” many ingredients every time I cooked was very time consuming. So, I developed my own in quantity, making whipping up some of our old favs a snap.
I keep homemade creamed soups needed for casseroles and other dishes in my freezer along with adobo and other sauces. I also grind loaves of gluten free bread, chocolate cookies and ginger snaps to keep on hand. I keep everything in my freezers—yes, more than one—labeled with the date stored.

Call me overly protective, but I prefer to eat and entertain at home. Why? I can control the safety of the food. We have theme parties and holiday gatherings, often with only one or two couples, sometimes 50 or 60 or more. Every dish is not only gluten free, but gorgeous and delicious with elaborate table settings. Only our closest friends know that they are eating gluten free; the others are none the wiser. Even when my study club meets at our home (Click on link for Delphi Study Club Tablescape 2011), they can’t believe they are eating a totally gluten free feast because the food is just that delicious.

Now, which do you prefer—a diet or a wonderful, healthy lifestyle chocked full of yummy dishes to die for?

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