The day I learned I had an allergy to wheat I found the nearest Whole Foods store and headed there after a full day of teachers’ workshops. I wandered the aisles looking for products I could eat. I thought about my morning cereal and crackers. The more I looked and saw the high prices, the more depressed I became. Before I realized it tears were filling my eyes, spilling down my cheeks! What was wrong with me?
I headed to the car and just had a good cry. This whole thing was overwhelming. I suddenly had to eliminate a huge portion of my diet. I’d already given up pizza and anything made with cheese. My mind was building up with obstacles, not possibilities.
Finally, I dried my tears and went back into the store. I headed to the book section and found several cookbooks featuring recipes for food allergies. I picked two that looked promising but don’t remember if I bought anything else.
I took my first step in my education for alternatives for two of the most common food groups in America. I learned to read cookbooks like a textbook.
When someone learns I have a wheat allergy they frequently nod and say, “Oh, you are gluten intolerant.” Gluten has developed into a code word signifying a person with celiac disease. Celiac disease is caused by a gluten-intolerance, and in the past four years many products are now available with the label “gluten-free”. Gluten is a term for a group of proteins in wheat; however, I’m allergic to the other proteins in wheat. The good news is products that are gluten-free are safe for me to eat.
I’ve learned that I cannot eat ANYTHING with wheat or milk in the ingredients. Food labeling is so much better than even four or five years ago. I can usually skip to the bottom of a list and find in bold print the most common food allergies labeled.
Another clarification — it is easier to say “dairy-free” than “milk-free” because any product with milk – cheese, yogurt, cream, butter, margarine, cream cheese, even non-dairy creamer have the milk protein, casein. Eggs are usually placed in the dairy category, but thankfully, I am not allergic to eggs!
Now, with all those details out of the way, let’s move on to the helpful stuff — tomorrow!
I count food labels as a true blessing.
I am also thankful that information has spread to food products and restaurants regarding food intolerance and food allergies.