Original post May 2017. Updated and reposted May 2020. The short version is that we are the Healthy Gluten-Free Family because of this sweet boy. Ten years ago this month (ironic that it’s Celiac Disease Awareness Month), our youngest son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease just weeks before his fifth birthday.
Celiac is an autoimmune disease whereby the body cannot digest any amount of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. In fact, if gluten is ingested, the body responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of nutrients. The only treatment is to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. And so our journey began…
Flash back to 2010, when gluten and celiac were not household names and there were not nearly as many gluten-free products on the market as there are now. My son was barely five years old, and his favorite food was pasta (yikes!). My first response was there was no way he was not going to eat pasta!
While pasta was his favorite food, and still may be, he was also my little foodie. And that may be the single biggest driver that started this blog. He loves to try new foods and flavors and really enjoys the entire dining experience. Even at a young age, he was always the last to leave the dinner table, savoring every bite. He is the child who asks to try food off your plate at home or at a restaurant. He is the child that likes to help in the garden and eat kale & cucumbers right off the vine. He’s also the child that prefers real food over snack food any day of the week. I was determined that Celiac would not stand in the way of my little boy’s joy of food.
I decided right then and there, that if my son wanted to try a food and we couldn’t find it anywhere, I would make it. So with all the passion of a mom, and a trained marketer, I threw myself into the gluten-free world. We tried every product we could get our hands on (and remember in 2010 some of them really did taste like card board) and experimented with endless recipes. My son would look at my cooking magazines and point to dishes he wanted to try.
Ultimately, we learned to cook and live gluten-free.
Our house is 90% gluten-free (there are bagels, bread and a separate toaster for my gluten-eating, older son but more about that in another post), but when we cook, bake or grill it’s 100% gluten-free. We entertain gluten-free and when we dine out with my son, I always eat gluten-free so he can try food off my plate (or now that he’s older, eat half my plate!)
And thus, to support him, we became the Healthy Gluten-Free Family.
Update May 2020: The little boy in this photo is now nearly 6 ft tall and celebrating 10 years gluten-free this month!
So much as changed in the world, and especially the gluten-free world, in this time.
Gluten free options are much more readily available and for the most part, taste much better than they did 10 years ago! But with that greater availability comes new challenges. Things like labeling laws not being properly enforced and the ever-present concerns about cross contamination in prepared food and when dining out.
And in this time, my son has grown from a sweet 5 year old just entering kindergarten to an amazing almost 15 year old which a rich, full life of his own! And our challenges raising a celiac child have shifted from navigating birthday parties and day camp, to navigating sleep away camp, team pasta dinners and going out with friends, and soon enough, navigating college!
And in this time, my son has learned to become his own advocate and develop his own sense of what is and isn’t safe to eat.
But one thing hasn’t changed. Our commitment and dedication to cooking easy, delicious gluten-free food everyone at the table can enjoy!
In fact, if anything, our commitment as dedication to making great tasting food has increased as my boys grew up and so did their appetites (!), as son has become quite a capable and amazing cook in his own right, and as we took on more of the family role of hosting holidays and events.
So each Celiac Awareness Month, I revisit our commitment to sharing our whole story and more of how we navigate life with celiac disease.
I’ll be sharing lots of new behind-the-scenes posts but here are links to a few of the most commonly asked questions.
Click here to read more about How we learned our son had Celiac Disease.
Click here for Tips for Dining Out Gluten-Free.
Click here for Our Favorite Gluten-Free Bread.
Click here for Our Favorite Gluten-Free Pasta.
Click here for Our Favorite Gluten-Free Flour.
Click here to read about Gluten in Medicine
Click here for Finding Restaurants when Traveling Gluten-Free.
Click here for a Celiac Fact Sheet from the University of Chicago Medicine Celiac Disease Center
Leave me a comment and let me know if you have a question about life with celiac disease or raising a child/ teen with celiac disease.