I used a spoon that didn’t match our other spoons, and ate straight from the pot. I was careful about things like what handles I touched. I washed my hands compulsively, being careful when opening the jar of salt or getting dried fruit out of a bag. If I was unsure about possibly having contaminated something, I put it on the one little shelf of the fridge we had designated for gluten-contaminated foods. (I could have also tried testing it with a GlutenTox Home Test Kit!)I was careful about not splashing water when I washed my pot. I put it in the same spot to dry every time.But then, disaster struck. Jupiter was glutened. His ankle joints hurt for days. He was nauseous and couldn’t concentrate on anything. He laid on the couch, miserable. Turns out I had used his toothbrush. When he picked a new one, he chose the same style and color as mine. The jars we put our toothbrushes in were right next to each other. I determined that I must have used his without realizing it. So I got him a new jar and toothbrush and started keeping mine on another shelf. The next day, I realized I’d put my toothbrush away in his jar after using it. I am a creature of habit and this is a dangerous one!
I’m being more careful, but it’s tough. I’m starting to wonder if I’m careful enough. Jupiter hasn’t been quite right – he’s been sleeping a whole lot, his allergies are flaring a bit, and he’s in a generally bad mood. He’s also starting to grieve over having to have a special diet. He’s not interested in eating gluten again because he hates feeling bad, but he still feels sad and it doesn’t help to see me eating it.
I’ve expanded my gluten food repertoire to pasta and store-bought bread. Here are the precautions I am taking (some with more success than others):
- There is one cabinet in the kitchen dedicated to gluten foods.
- The gluten foods are kept in sealed ziplock bags once I open their packages.
- The refrigerator’s butter shelf (that closes) is designated for cross-contaminated foods.
- I use flatware and plates that do not match our usual set.
- I wash the flatware and plates I use with my dedicated sponge, then my hands, then in the dishwasher.
- If I use a potholder while cooking or to set my plate on, I wash it immediately.
- After washing my hands and drying them, I immediately wash the dishtowel I used.
- I take care not to wash hands frequently while preparing my gluten foods so that I don’t touch handles or the outer packaging of my gluten foods with dirty hands. (This is really hard – try making toast under the broiler – I have to wash my hands 4 or 5 times during that simple process.)
- I put paper towels under my dishes when I am eating, like a placemat.
- I try to eat without spraying crumbs anywhere.
- I try not to touch household items (remote control, table, etc) while I am eating gluten containing foods.
- I rinse cups that I use after eating gluten and put them in the dishwasher immediately.
- I brush my teeth and wash my face immediately after eating gluten.
How do you handle being gluten-free in a mixed household? Do you feel adequately protected?