Glutening My Kid, the Dangers of a Mixed Household

No tree climbing when you're glutened :(

No tree climbing when you're glutened :(

When I started my gluten challenge I wasn’t worried about hurting anyone but myself. We had made our home 100% gluten-free last year, so I had the basics down and knew I’d need to be very careful not to cross-contaminate anything with gluten.

Our son, Jupiter, is very sensitive to cross-contamination, but most people who are gluten-free actually live in mixed households. If they could do it, I reasoned, so could we.

Gluten is Poison!

Gluten is Poison!

Things started off on the right foot. Since I wasn’t going to have much gluten in the kitchen, it was really easy. Kelsy bought me some Bob’s Red Mill Farina and I carefully transferred it into an old salsa container. Kelsy wrote “POISON” on the top and drew a skull and crossbones on it, then I put it on top of the refrigerator, where no one would accidentally touch it.

Old pots - now only for gluten, in their own special gluten dish drying spot.

Old pots - now only for gluten, in their own special gluten dish drying spot.

We dug a little pot out of the garage so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting our regular pots covered in gluten. I got two new sponges out (one for a first pass, the other for the second pass), and found them their own space on the window-sill, away from all other sponges.

I used a spoon that didn’t match our other spoons, and ate straight from the pot. I was careful about things like what handles I touched. I washed my hands compulsively, being careful when opening the jar of salt or getting dried fruit out of a bag. If I was unsure about possibly having contaminated something, I put it on the one little shelf of the fridge we had designated for gluten-contaminated foods. (I could have also tried testing it with a GlutenTox Home Test Kit!)I was careful about not splashing water when I washed my pot. I put it in the same spot to dry every time.

The Toothbrushes that Glutened my Kid

The toothbrushes that glutened my kid - now on a high shelf

But then, disaster struck. Jupiter was glutened. His ankle joints hurt for days. He was nauseous and couldn’t concentrate on anything. He laid on the couch, miserable. Turns out I had used his toothbrush. When he picked a new one, he chose the same style and color as mine. The jars we put our toothbrushes in were right next to each other. I determined that I must have used his without realizing it. So I got him a new jar and toothbrush and started keeping mine on another shelf. The next day, I realized I’d put my toothbrush away in his jar after using it. I am a creature of habit and this is a dangerous one!

I’m being more careful, but it’s tough. I’m starting to wonder if I’m careful enough. Jupiter hasn’t been quite right – he’s been sleeping a whole lot, his allergies are flaring a bit, and he’s in a generally bad mood. He’s also starting to grieve over having to have a special diet. He’s not interested in eating gluten again because he hates feeling bad, but he still feels sad and it doesn’t help to see me eating it.

I’ve expanded my gluten food repertoire to pasta and store-bought bread. Here are the precautions I am taking (some with more success than others):

A bit of cross-contaminated butter in solitary confinement

A bit of cross-contaminated butter in solitary confinement

  • There is one cabinet in the kitchen dedicated to gluten foods.
  • The gluten foods are kept in sealed ziplock bags once I open their packages.
  • The refrigerator’s butter shelf (that closes) is designated for cross-contaminated foods.
  • I use flatware and plates that do not match our usual set.
  • I wash the flatware and plates I use with my dedicated sponge, then my hands, then in the dishwasher.
  • If I use a potholder while cooking or to set my plate on, I wash it immediately.
  • After washing my hands and drying them, I immediately wash the dishtowel I used.
  • I take care not to wash hands frequently while preparing my gluten foods so that I don’t touch handles or the outer packaging of my gluten foods with dirty hands. (This is really hard – try making toast under the broiler – I have to wash my hands 4 or 5 times during that simple process.)
  • I put paper towels under my dishes when I am eating, like a placemat.
  • I try to eat without spraying crumbs anywhere.
  • I try not to touch household items (remote control, table, etc) while I am eating gluten containing foods.
  • I rinse cups that I use after eating gluten and put them in the dishwasher immediately.
  • I brush my teeth and wash my face immediately after eating gluten.

How do you handle being gluten-free in a mixed household? Do you feel adequately protected?

This post is part of Fight Back Friday on Food Renegade and Butter Believer’s Sunday School, and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Traditional Tuesdays.

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8 comments to Glutening My Kid, the Dangers of a Mixed Household

  • PJ

    I am curious about a couple of things.
    You know that you cannot tolerate gluten, and yet you are willingly causing more permanent damage with your test. Gluten damage causes serious fertility issues too.
    Also, did you know that a diagnoses of Celiacs will make you uninsurable if you ever do lose the insurance you may have?

  • Jennifer Reyna

    I cannot wait until this torture is over for you and your household. Poor Kelsy. ;-)

  • I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your posts. They are always so informative and helpful! This post is a great resource on cross-contimanation for my husband who flares up when he consumes the smallest amount of gluten.

  • Renae

    I live in an apartment shared with 5 other people, who I know would never go to the trouble of taking all those precautions to ensure that I do not come in contact with gluten. This is the only place I can afford to live that is close enough to the university I attend, so I’m not about to move. I haven’t actually been diagnosed with celiac disease – I just follow a gluten free diet because it diminishes about 160 symptoms that I get when I do eat gluten. What precautions can I take to avoid contact with gluten? I would like to ELIMINATE all my symptoms, not just alleviate them…

  • T.J.

    Oh my Gosh! This makes me sooo nervous! I have celiac disease, but I’ve yet to test any of our 5 children. So, my clueless hubby and all five kiddos consume gluten daily. Now, we are a messy family by genetic predispostion (plus hubby and I are both the youngest kids in our families respectively. Aka used to having others pick up after us ashamedly, sigh). I feel like I’m CONSTANTLY getting glutened! I just feel so helpless…..my husband doesn’t get how I can be glutened just from a few crumbs. He thinks if he can’t see the crumbs they must not be present! Plus, I’m still preparing these gluteny foods for my family, ugh. I plan to get genetic testing for myself first and if I have a double copy of any of the celiac genes (I suspect I do) we’re all going gluten free. Extreme, I don’t think so especially in light of reading “Wheat Belly”….

    May you and yours be blessed!

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