Home is where we spend a large part of our time and consume most of our meals too. Family support for anyone on a gluten free diet is crucial. Not only the primary caretaker who prepares the food but also all other family members need to be educated on the dangers of cross contamination and ingestion of accidental gluten. Family support and monitoring for dietary compliance is equally critical.
Have you or a loved one been recently diagnosed with Celiac? It is imperative then to remove all traces of gluten from your home and maintain a strictly gluten-free kitchen. Here are some tips - if some of the suggestions sound too extreme, please keep in mind that gluten is extremely pervasive and you need to be very careful to avoid contamination.
GET RID OF FOODS CONTAINING GLUTEN OR SEGREGATE THEM
If your entire family is going gluten-free, you can give all your foods to gluten consuming friends or simply junk them. If some family members are eating gluten, keep the gluten foods separate from non-gluten ones. In the fridge store non-gluten foods above the gluten containing ones to minimize chances of any particles dropping onto non-gluten fare.
Use labels and post-its to label non-gluten foods and write in bold marker the person’s name for whom it is meant.
Store non-gluten foods on a separate shelf so they are easy to find and ‘gluteny’ hands cannot touch them.
Avoid buying foods that come in squeeze tubes to avoid chances of gluten containing foods coming in contact with the nozzle.
MANAGE KITCHEN EQUIPMENT EFFECTIVELY TO AVOID GLUTEN CONTAMINATION
Purchase a second set of tools for gluten-free cooking and store them away from the set you use for gluten containing foods. Equipment like toasters, colanders, strainers, rolling pins, pasta makers, and sifters are known to have gluten traces in hard-to-reach spots hence the investment in multiple sets of tools.
Get and store separate sets of sponges, hand towels, and oven mitts in different colors and assign one color to your gluten-free cooking. Keep them separate from each other.
Get 2 sets of condiment bottles -one for gluten-free foods and label it so there is no chance of mixing them up.
When baking or barbecuing items, line baking pans or the grill with tin foil. This also makes for easy cleaning and reduces chances of contamination.
Have separate gluten free utensils and serving dishes around when grilling. Clean your grill thoroughly before cooking. Make sure you line your grill with tin foil for gluten free cooking.
KEEP YOUR KITCHEN & COUNTERS CLEAN TO AVOID CROSS-CONTAMINATION
Clean your kitchen on a regular basis. Gluten does not vanish by itself. You will have to take it off surfaces.
Be especially careful with your sink, microwave, refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, oven and freezer and clean them often.
Wipe down switches, kitchen taps and cabinet handles.
Clean your kitchen counter with warm soapy water before you start working on it to minimize chances of gluten particles coming into contact with gluten free foods.
Place a flexible cutting mat to keep on top of your counter when cooking gluten free. This provides a protective barrier if gluten particles are present on the countertop.
Cook your gluten-free dishes before the gluten ones to avoid cross contamination.
SENSIBLE MENU CHOICES
If one person in the family is a celiac, it may not be practical to make different dishes for the gluten tolerant members. There are plenty of gluten-free delicious dishes that the whole family can enjoy. Visit our Recipes section for recipe ideas.
Do not leave gluten-containing fast food/ candy lying around, preferably avoid getting it into the house at all. Younger celiac children may not be able to resist the temptation of a ‘teeny tiny taste’.
If anybody else is buying food, educate them about how to read labels.