Living a gluten-free lifestyle is often seen as something an individual with Celiac Disease must do in order to stay happy and healthy. In truth, family members or those living in the same household frequently find themselves observing a gluten-free diet the majority of the time, with a few exceptions. One reason is that it is easier to buy groceries and cook meals that everyone can eat, rather than doing double the shopping and double the cooking. Another reason, however, is that cross-contamination can occur in a kitchen when the cooks are not careful. Here are 7 tips to make it easier and safer for those suffering from Celiac Disease to partake in a gluten-free lifestyle while living in a dual-diet household.
2. Observe Food Labels – Charge the grocery shopper with buying foods that everyone can have, when possible. Encourage that person to check the labels of everything. For large households, assign a shopping buddy to push an extra cart at the grocery store. This makes cross contamination of wheat-based foods easier to avoid.
3. Experiment and Share – Invite those without Celiac Disease to try specialty foods that taste good. For example, some grocery stores carry gluten-free rolls in the frozen food section. Others carry specialty desserts, like gluten-free pies, cookies and cupcakes in the bakery section.
4. Separate Food – Keep gluten-free foods in a separate cabinet or pantry. Before initially stocking it, carefully clean and sanitize the shelves and doors. Pay special attention to products made with flour, as the dust can migrate easily.
5. Friendly Reminders – If there are children in the home, use friendly signs to remind them which cabinets and utensils are considered “safe,” and which are not. Color coding is helpful for little ones that haven’t yet learned to read. This is also helpful for forgetful grown-ups.
6. Separate Equipment – To avoid cross-contamination, use separate cooking, baking and mixing equipment for gluten-free foods. Prepare them on separate surfaces. Use color coding or tags to make separation easy for everyone to follow.
7. Plan Ahead – Develop a system for preparing and eating meals simultaneously in the kitchen. While it may be easier for everyone to eat the same thing, there will be times this doesn’t happen. Planning ahead for meals will prevent issues most of the time.