Adapting to a Gluten Free Lifestyle

How my brother’s allergy has affected my family’s eating habits


Lauren Polydys

Many good gluten free items can be found in the gluten free section of a grocery store.

Lauren Polydys, Reporter

Some people today go gluten free as a diet option. Well, for my family that is not the case. My younger brother developed a gluten allergy a few years ago and it has changed how our entire family eats, as well as shops.

If a person has a gluten allergy, it means that they cannot eat anything containing wheat. The most known foods that include wheat are bread, pasta and pizza. In reality, there are so many more foods that contain wheat.

When eating out my family has to either order my brother’s food gluten free or we have to order the meal so that it would be made without gluten. For example, when we go to Culver’s, we order his burger with a gluten free bun. While at McDonalds, they do not serve gluten free buns, so we order it without one. Some things we have to especially watch when eating out are spices and sauces. There are lots of entrees that would be gluten free, but the added sauces or spices to make it taste better contain wheat. You even have to pay attention when you are ordering a salad, because the dressing could contain wheat.

Another possible issue is cross contamination. While a meal might be gluten free, if it was made with the same equipment as regular food, then it could be contaminated and contain some wheat. For example, french fries are gluten free, however if they are fried in the same oil as the breaded chicken nuggets they no longer are. At home, we make sure to have separate pans or clean them between cooking with gluten free versus regular.

When shopping we make sure to always check out the gluten free section. A large selection of gluten free items can be found here, but don’t stop there. There are also gluten free items on the shelves next to the “normal” options. In addition to being labeled “GF”, some items can be gluten free and are not labeled/certified gluten free. You can check the ingredients and look for wheat or food starch. The labels can be very informative. Some products might be gluten free, but has a disclaimer that says that it was made in a factory that also makes wheat products. We can’t buy these products for my brother because the risk of cross contamination.

When we first started eating gluten free, we tried so many different brands of food trying to find what we like best. Especially with baking at home.  We experimented with brands and then adjusted the measurements to make it taste just right for us.

You don’t even realize how many foods contain wheat, until you are not allowed to have it. While I do not have a gluten allergy, I have significantly decreased my gluten intake because of my brother’s intolerance. While I am eating out I eat whatever I want, but at home most of what I eat is gluten free. With today’s advancement in alternate types of flour: almond, coconut, tapioca and corn, you can make almost anything without using wheat. These developments have made it so much easier to accommodate for my brother’s allergy and so many others like him.