When I first went Gluten Free, I didn’t think cross contamination was an issue for me. Surely my Gluten issues weren’t “that bad”.

I had read in Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book, “The G Free Diet, A Gluten-Free Survival Guide” that she had her own toaster. Her husband had his in which he put regular bread items to be toasted, but she could not toast her Gluten Free bread in it or it made her ill. Cross contamination was the culprit.

I was thrilled when I first learned that all the meal ingredients at Chipotle were Gluten Free except the flour tortillas. I could simply order a bowl instead of a burrito, right? It wasn’t until I realized that sometimes I could eat Gluten free items in my “bowl” at Chipotle and feel “fine” and other times the same meal made me ill, that the issue of cross contamination became real for me. Now, when I get to the front of the line at Chipotle, I tell them I eat Gluten Free and the server changes gloves before beginning to prepare my meal. Furthermore, they use a clean utensil when adding an item to my bowl. (If the server is new and uninformed, I explain the process to them.) Such a simple thing makes all the difference.

Clearly, eating Gluten Free is more than eating foods that are Gluten Free. It also means the food must be prepared in a way that does not allow it to come in contact with Gluten in the process. Hmmm…

It means we must be vigilant about not allowing double dipping of anything not Gluten Free. It requires the use of cutting boards that do not have Gluten-crumbs trapped in surface cuts.
If an ice cream scoop has touched an ice cream cone or ice creams that contain Gluten, you won’t want it scooping your serving of Gluten Free ice cream.
You don’t want to use the same spatula to flip your Gluten Free bread and cheese sandwich on the griddle as you use to flip the non-Gluten Free grilled cheese your husband or children enjoy. You don’t even want your Gluten Free grilled cheese sandwich to grill in the same spot on the griddle (or even on the same griddle) as non-Gluten Free sandwiches. You also don’t want to use the same knife to cut your Gluten Free sandwich in half as was used to cut non-Gluten Free sandwiches. Really!

At home, we should have control over cross contamination concerns. It helps to have the support of our family, but we have to first arm them with information. After every use, utensils, dishes, and pans need to be thoroughly cleaned. Some go so far as to have duplicates of these items in their kitchen for their exclusive, Gluten Free use.

Gluten Free Rolled Oats

Gluten Free Rolled Oats

I am often asked if oats are gluten free. There seems to be a controversy regarding oats. Many are processed or stored in facilities that also process or store wheat which can lead to cross contamination. It is for that reason that I read all labels carefully. Thankfully, there are oats that are labeled Gluten Free. Those are the ones I buy. (Note this bag is only half full. They really taste good!)

It does need to be said, though, that we must remain vigilant in reading labels because manufacturing processes and ‘recipes’ are constantly changing.

Restaurants that have informed management, chefs, and wait-staff take our concerns seriously when preparing our gluten free meals. One bite is often enough to tell us if a mistake has been made, and they want a repeat customer.

We have to be willing to speak up for ourselves. We need to be assertive, determined, and clear for our own well being, but also to help raise awareness of the issue. I love how Shauna James Ahern puts it in her book, “Gluten-Free Girl.” She says,

“Every instance of cross-contamination that brings me down for days makes me remember how I have suffered and how many people are suffering that same way now. I come out of those instances even more resolved to stand up for myself.” (p 64)

Here’s to Gluten-Free healthy living!!!