Today I thought I would bring a post to you guys and highlight one of the most difficult things I face with having coeliac disease. I am getting involved with the #OneMcPeake challenge and trying to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with such strict dietary requirements, especially when the food you eat can lead to serious ill-effects if said requirements haven’t been taken seriously.
So, one of the most challenging parts of being gluten free is sharing a kitchen with people who eat gluten. When I say that, I mean, there is wheaty bread everywhere. The people I live with, my boyfriend and his family eat so much frikkin gluten, I think they would die if they ever got told they have coeliac disease.
Anyway, the last few years have been an almighty struggle for me as I risk getting cross contaminated and have done a lot of times in the past, from this kitchen. Wondering why I’m not feeling ANY better than before following my gluten free diet. And the answers were hiding in my very own kitchen, crumbs.
I know some of you reading this may be all too familiar with reducing your risk of getting glutened via cross contamination, but to some of you who are new to this, these tips may come in super duper handy for you. I want to share my experiences, and hope that it might help some of you out, so here goes, here are my top tips for staying safe in a shared kitchen.
- Get your own toaster, or even better, get some toaster bags.
Bread crumbs are the worst offender in my opinion, especially with a toaster. I’ve always wanted to get my own toaster, but I a) have nowhere to put it in the kitchen and b) am terrified that someone may use it with normal bread. So I use these reusable toaster bags from the pound shop. They keep your gluten free bread safe whilst still toasting it, AND you can wash them and don’t have to pay the expense for an extra toaster.
2. Get yourself some sticky labels. These are everything to me. I don’t expect everyone who I live with to know exactly which food is which, memorise what has and hasn’t had any gluten touch it. So I use these to mark which stuff is mine, and kindly remind others to not use it because it will make me sick! I label my own separate margarines and spreads with these. I used to buy obscure brands to try and put people off, but I have been a victim of contamination quite a lot though margarine. I’ve also tried explaining the ‘poison’ theory but some people just don’t want to listen. You can’t please everyone. So I just use these sticky labels.
3. Have your own cupboard or shelf, preferably top.
I have my own cupboard for gluten free food, I don’t want to share a bread bin with gluten, or a freezer with fish fingers. It’s a nightmare. And you definitely don’t want to share a cupboard with a bag of wheat flour if baking is your thing. Having a separate cupboard and freezer space is handy for me because I buy all of my own gluten free food, and that includes snacks. And it’s a right p*ss take when you’ve spend over £30 a week on your shop to have other people eat YOUR gluten free snacks and there is literally NOTHING safe for you to eat. I know it sounds selfish but when I’ve finished work and come back at 10.30pm to food that will make me sick because others have eaten the food I was saving, it’s really upsetting.
4. Be careful with cutlery drawers.
I’ve become so aware of this recently and it drives me insane. It happens a lot in my house, where people will make a sandwich, get crumbs everywhere, and don’t close the cutlery drawer properly before wiping the surface and brushing the crumbs off, where they inevitably end up in the cutlery drawer. I was sick for a few months before realising this. It happens all the time, and so I end up scrubbing the cutlery I need to use before using it now. Probably the WORST thing I have to deal with when being gluten free, but easily resolved. But gosh, how hard is it for people to shut drawers properly?!
5. Brushing crumbs of your surfaces will not remove gluten. Get yourself some good cleaning products.
It might be a bit OCD of me, but I can’t bear the thought of my food or cutlery potentially touching gluten. I invested in a plastic chopping board, as I know it’s easier than wooden ones to clean, and everyone in the house knows it’s my gluten free one. I have to clean before I start preparing food. Antibacterial spray with a scourer does the trick, anti bacterial wipes do the trick, and kitchen towel. I’m really into Ora Home’s paper towel stacks at the minute, you just grab them with one hand, and the circular shape of them means every inch of it absorbs stuff and wipes it away. Plus, you get more in a stack than you would with a roll of kitchen towel.
6. Make a gluten free meal for everyone
I love cooking, which is great because I do have coeliac disease and therefore my life seems to revolve around eating safe food. I think to be in control over what you eat is important, so I cook naturally gluten free food for the people I live with a few times a week. It’s reassuring because I don’t even tell them it’s gluten free, and they enjoy the food I make. It’s cheaper, and things like Pinterest are very useful in discovering gluten free recipes to try.
I know I sound frustrated by the most part about sharing a kitchen with the gluten munchers, but things can be resolved quite easily if you spot them and make others aware of it. I try to keep a positive attitude when it comes to having coeliac disease and making everyone aware of gluten, so I don’t just moan about it, I get this stuff done and live my life.
If I was severely allergic, and had anaphylaxis, it may be a different story, but if you are reading this and need extra help with living with a food allergy, the Anaphylaxis Campaign have some information and resources available for you here HERE
For more information on the OneMcPeakeChallenge and how to get involved, click HERE.
If you have any tips that keep you safe in a shared kitchen, let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading!
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