Gluten free learning curve: vertical

I’m feeling kinda blue today. No real reason, just…meh. Tom got home from a business trip this morning, the weather is beautiful and the boys are playing on the blacktop, the basement is cleaned and vacuumed (must be done after a cereal explosion), at first glance everything in my happy little world is in order.

And still I’m blue.

Might be because I’m really tired of waking up to a to-do list at least 15 items deep every morning (something I’m sure my parents will smack me upside the head about when they get here this week). Might be because I can’t just kick back and do nothing without feeling guilty. Might be because I’m still in the throes of my mid-life crisis.

Or it might be that I’m starting to realize that living gluten free (and possibly other allergens) can be a real pain in the ass and takes more learning than I first realized. Especially when I keep reading articles about foods that are mislabled.

(May I inject this here…or it might be that my frakking computer has been running so frakking slow lately that I can type two full frakking sentences before they show up on the frakking screen Ihavesohaditwiththisgoddamnedcomputer!!!!!)

The Chicago Tribune has been running a series of articles lately, that have been reprinted in our local paper, about the mislabeling of allergens on foods. Even items from Whole Foods, that you think might actually be safe.

This pisses me off, yes, but it also makes me pretty sad. It’s hard enough trying to keep to a gluten free diet, without the labels I so rely on being inaccurate. Thankfully we’re not allergic enough to need an EpiPen, but some families are, and have had to use them after a food they thought was safe turned out to be mislabeled. My life is too crazy for me to do 100% cooking from scratch. I just canNOT make pasta from scratch, it’s difficult to NOT rely on some packaged goods, and damn it, why aren’t these items properly labeled? Even items that were labeled “gluten free” were found to have significant amounts of gluten.

Earlier this week I thought I was coming down with something. I was really tired, I took an afternoon nap, I was grumpy, and basically didn’t feel like myself. I kept wracking my brains, trying to remember what I ate, thinking I had inadvertently eaten something with gluten in it, and kept coming up blank. By Thursday I felt much better. And then Friday, as I swallowed literally the last bite of my lunch, it came to me. I make ham balls (it’s an Iowa thing and we love them) and since they’re so time-intensive to prepare, I make huge batches and freeze them. I made the last batch last spring, before A and I went gluten free. One of the primary ingredients in ham balls is graham crackers. Graham crackers have wheat flour. Crap. I had eaten some ham balls earlier in the week, and again on Friday for lunch. And today I feel blue, I’m tired, and I don’t feel like myself.

I can screw myself up without any help from food manufacturers, I don’t need their “help” to do that. What I do need, however, is to be secure in the knowledge that what I’m buying and making for my family is what it says it is, is safe, and won’t harm us. The whole “I need eleventy billion flours to make bread” thing is difficult enough when you’re just starting out, mislabeled products just make it more difficult and frightening. As we move into Thanksgiving week, a holiday based on food, I have to be even more vigilant about what we prepare for the meal.

There was more I wanted to write here, and I’m sure it was good, but my memory is failing me, I’m too tired to dig through the dusty memory banks, and the boys are clamoring for lunch. Plus I am about to toss the damned computer off the roof, because I’m three sentences ahead of it right now.

note: Some are blaming the FDA for not keeping up with the labeling of these foods. While I do agree the FDA is negligent in its duties, it is not entirely its fault. The FDA needs something like 20,000 inspectors to do an accurate job of food inspection/testing, especially with the amount of food coming from other countries (see food from China recalls). As I understand it, they have roughly 1500 inspectors. Do the math. It is truly my hope that the new administration will order up a huge honkin’ budget increase for the FDA so we can all rest easy knowing our food and drugs are safe.

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9 Responses

  1. I tried doing a gluten free diet with Evan for about 3 months, and I recall them being the most annoying 3 food months of my life. A gluten-free lifestyle must be a major pain in the patooty as it is, let alone worrying about whether or not a label’s right!

  2. I know I mentioned her a while back, but keep an eye on http://www.spewdfree.com/blog/ – she is trying to track a lot of the food recalls regarding allergies.

  3. We have to avoid food colors and certain preservatives, so I understand where you are coming from. You’d be amazed the foods that have colors added.

    It is soooo frustrating some days.

  4. Ham balls?!?!?! Wow. Gotta be an Iowa thing. Eek. With graham crackers, no less? Wow. I am speechless.

    There is a line of good pasta made with rice flour that I like pretty well. It is lousy to re-heat (very delicate) but is yummy and tastes like the regular kind. And it comes in those little squiggle spirals that kids like.

    I’ve got some good recipes that involve rice and no flour or corn starch (is that gluten??). Are you interested in them?

    I saw a recipe not long ago for fried macaroni and cheese balls. I see no reason why that could not be made with rice instead. Crap. No dairy for you, right? Dernit. Will poke around and see what looks good/kid-friendly.

  5. I bet your grocery bill about doubled when you started having to buy gluten free also! Leave out the gluten but pay more right? That’s usually the way it works.

  6. Oh, and ham and graham crackers? I’ll just take your word on that one! :)

  7. Yeah, I never did a gf diet for Ethan because it’s just too much work. Good for you for doing it!!

  8. […] to me Cathy on Gluten free learning curve:…michelle on Gluten free learning curve:…michelle on Gluten free learning curve:…Dawn […]

  9. My sister (RC) has to deal with milk allergies for her little guy. I have a friend with ulcertive colitis (sp?) who has a list of foods she can’t eat. I have another friend who is gluten/dairy free. I have a friend with fibromyalgia who watches everything she eats. Me… it’s just food coloring that I can’t have. And I get blue. I can’t imagine how frustrating this is for you. (((hugs))) The labeling of things makes me crazy!

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