Three Things People with Celiac Wish you Knew

“Celiac wife + Seattle + beer-drinking husband = Ghostfish” — Yelp reviewer Chris C., Spokane, WA, Feb. 2020 

Celiac Awareness Month is winding down, but the cause is always close to our hearts. We’ve featured articles that answer common questions about gluten-free beer and living a gluten-free lifestyle. Recently we asked Ghostfish fans to respond to the question: “What do you wish more people knew about being gluten-free?”

We loved reading all the responses but these three issues related to cross-contamination, by far, were what most people found frustrating.

Cross-contamination is real but how does it affect celiacs?
If you touch a raw chicken breast and then pick up a bread roll without washing your hands in between, you’ve potentially carried over any bacteria found on the uncooked meat to the bread. The risk is real and profound; we’ve all heard horror stories of food poisoning associated with bacteria from raw chicken which can carry Campylobacter bacteria, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens bacteria.

Now imagine how a kitchen that isn’t gluten-free can be detrimental to people with celiac disease. At Ghostfish,  gluten-free means everything is gluten-free from the ingredients and surfaces, to the  equipment and utensils. 

Just one innocent speck of the gluten protein inhibits the celia in the intestines from absorbing nutrients. Take it from us, it hurts a lot! 

Common cross-contamination scenarios:

  • Gluten-free foods (like fries) that are deep-fried in a fryer that is also used to fry breaded chicken, wings, cheese curds, jalapeno poppers (etc.), will retain gluten proteins and are harmful.
  • When pasta is used in the same hot water to boil gluten noodles as they do gluten-free noodles. 
  • Handmade pizza dough has airborne flour and on every surface of a kitchen so no matter how conscientious a restaurant is, cross-contamination is likely.
  • “A little bit will hurt me and no I can’t just pick it out.” Once a breaded item has been in contact with other ingredients on a plate, it’s contaminated and harmful. 

Food on-the-go
“Not being able to grab food when I’m out of the house – so much prep, planning and let downs. Also menus that say “gluten-free” but they cross-contaminate.”

Traveling anywhere with celiac disease can be one of the most challenging aspects of living with the disease. Cruising down the freeway on a road trip? If you have celiac, you better have a big cooler! No Mcdonald’s stop for us! There’s a lot of research and planning that’s involved with traveling out of our known zone (i.e. out of state or to a foreign country).

Inconveniencing friends and family
“I wish more people understood that some of us need to follow a gluten-free diet all the time, no cheating, for our health, as it’s the only therapy for our [celiac] disease.”

From a friend’s kitchen where you may have to decline food, to workplace break rooms that are liberally contaminated by gluten, to the awkwardness of being on a date and having to explain why you’re not eating because those gluten-free onion rings are deep-fried in the same cooker as the fish ‘n chips; celiac disease affects emotional health and has a big social impact.

Moving forward, it’s important to remember that a celiac diagnosis isn’t the end of eating good food, it’s the beginning. To prove it we’ve included a couple of recipes in this newsletter for our mouth-watering potato salad and brats that everyone can enjoy! 

Until next time, cheers!

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