About galenaylor

Documentation engineer at Facebook. Math tutor. Former aerospace engineer and programmer/analyst.

Think the Gluten Free Diet is a Fad? Imagine Rat Poison is the New “It” Ingredient.

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Rat poison?

Yes. Imagine almost everyone you know has decided rat poison is delicious. And miraculously, they can eat it without harm. You, on the other hand, it makes violently ill.

Now, imagine that just about every restaurant picks up on this new trend, and starts putting rat poison in most of their dishes, and — rat poison is so pervasive throughout the kitchen — restaurants cannot guarantee that dishes without rat poison are not cross-contaminated.

If you spent a few seconds imagining this scenario, then you have an inkling of what it’s like living with Celiac Disease, or many other medical conditions for which a gluten-free diet is prescribed.

Why am I bringing this up?

This morning, I became aware of an ad from Party City (which has since been taken down) that essentially calls people with Celiac “gross.” (If you haven’t seen it, you really need to take a minute to read Gluten Dude’s post and watch the video.) This is only the latest in a series of slams at people who have to eat gluten free, or have food allergies and require medically restricted diets.

Yes, it’s good that Party City has apologized. But that’s not the point. If lots and lots of people didn’t think of eating gluten free as a weird and annoying  “choice,” it never would have become the topic of an advertisement. Somehow, we need to get people to understand that for many of us, eating gluten free is not a choice.

if you run across someone who’s having trouble empathizing with people who have to eat gluten free, ask them to imagine rat poison is the new food trend, and it’s everywhere.

Oh, and maybe we can just stop making fun of people. Period.

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Celiac Safe Eats in Seattle

When my daughter was accepted to the University of Washington, I knew I needed to find places nearby where we could eat safely.  Gluten Free Mom got us started on the right track with Razzi’s Pizzeria (see below), and I’m happy to have discovered several additional places.

Because neither my daughter nor I have very noticeable symptoms after eating gluten, I have to preface this post with a disclaimer: Always do your due diligence before eating out. Ask questions, trust your instincts, and don’t eat anywhere you aren’t comfortable. But then, you already know that. 🙂 Please let me know if you find any issues with any of the restaurants on this list. And now, on to the list!  Continue reading

Meatloaf, Flatbread and a Connection to Mom

2016-08-26 14.22.482011 was a pretty rough year. Less than one week after completing a grueling mathematical methods class for my master’s degree, I came down with acute GI symptoms that eventually lead to a diagnosis of celiac disease and microscopic colitis. While I was adjusting to my dual diagnoses (and the likelihood my 13-year-old daughter also had celiac), my mother’s health deteriorated, requiring many trips to the hospital, several hours drive away.

I was still figuring out what I could safely eat at home. And now, on top of the gluten-free diet for celiac and the low-fiber diet for colitis, I had to figure out what to take for a multi-day trip. Fortunately, not long after my diagnosis, I read an article that advocated taking real food (not just snacks) while traveling and found a simple recipe for flatbread that tasted like bread. 

I cannot emphasize enough how important this flatbread was.

Until then, I had yet to find anything even remotely bread-like. Although I now eat fewer baked goods, to say the flatbread saved me during this transition phase is barely an exaggeration.

So, on my first gluten-free trip away from home I brought frozen slices of home-made meatloaf, several pieces of baked flat bread, and a little ketchup. The frozen meatloaf slowly defrosted and was perfect when I was ready to eat. After weeks of plain chicken, rice, and canned green beans (which is almost all I ate while the doctor figured out what was wrong with me) it was like heaven!

I made several trips that spring and summer, some to rehab and some to the hospital. Meatloaf and flatbread continued to be a major staple. In September, I started a student teaching assignment and was no longer able to visit my mom. Student teaching turned out to be quite stressful, compounded by a decline in my mom’s health. I managed only one brief visit to the hospital before she passed away.

Continuing my teaching assignment was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Fast-forward to 2016 and I’m on a flight to Hawaii. My lunch? A meatloaf sandwich. To save time, I made it using good gluten free bread—it’s still satisfying and portable—and the taste takes me right back to my first trip to the rehab center to see my mom, to the beginning of my search for celiac-safe eats.

And the connection? My great-grandmother’s meatloaf. It’s a simple recipe I learned from my mom, who learned from her mom. I know my daughter will take this recipe with her as well. Good food. Comfort food. And each bite is a connection to Mom.

Now, I need to try that flatbread recipe again.

Chocolate and Celiac-Safe Fast Food

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What do you want to know when you’re traveling to a new country? Here’s what one traveler recently asked on Facebook:

…does any one have a list of gluten free chocolates and candy? And are any fast food chains safe? :)

I love the priorities! (And wish I could still eat chocolate, but that’s another story…) Smart questions. Chocolate (or other candy) can be very comforting (and keep you from starving!) when you’re in an unfamiliar setting. Let’s face it, there are very few celiac-safe places to eat, so when we find a restaurant chain that’s safe, it’s golden! (Heck, I’m even ecstatic when I find a safe restaurant that has more than one location!)

So, which chains are celiac safe? Continue reading

Celiac Awareness Month: #60ForCeliac

Invisible Illness Campaign_Beyond Celiac logoI’m excited to be part of Beyond Celiac’s Blogger Force for Celiac Awareness Month in 2016!

This year Beyond Celiac (formerly the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) is highlighting the invisible aspects of celiac disease with the goal of showing the world that celiac disease disrupts more of our lives than just what we eat.

See how many times you can relate to the questions in this 60-second video, and consider sharing it to raise awareness of celiac disease. (Use the hashtag #60ForCeliac.)

Follow @CeliacSafeEats (and the other Beyond Celiac bloggers) on Twitter for more information about celiac , Celiac Awareness Month, and gluten-free dining.

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CDF Expo and Conference: Where to eat?

This will be my first time attending the Celiac Disease Foundation National Conference and Expo. The conference is in Pasadena, CA, home of the Rose Bowl (Go, Bruins! But I digress…)

Breakfast and lunch on Saturday (gluten free, of course) is taken care of as part of the conference, which leaves several other meals to round out the weekend. Although I’m bringing food with me, I would really like to find safe, good restaurants for dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday.

I did my usual research using Yelp reviews and came up with a few (insert your favorite sad emoji here) possible choices within a 20 minute walk from the conference.
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Restaurant Review: Open Oven Pizza Co, Roche, Cornwall

I love this review. It makes me wish I were closer than a 15 hour plane ride so I could try the pizza! If you’re visiting England, check out Open Oven Pizza, Co. and chroniclesofagrumpycoeliac.wordpress.com.

chronicles of a grumpy coeliac

Oh. My Goodness. Where to begin. Last week I was in Cornwall and had the most amazing cream tea ever, I thought right that’s my blog for the week sorted (who am I kidding, I definitely don’t post that often, I’m not organised enough for that) but then. But then, my friends, I went for pizza. Pizza in the oddest place one would go for pizza… pizza in a services…

Oh god. When our friends suggested it (they assured me they did gluten free) I felt my heart drop… surely no pizza place in a services, in Cornwall, is going to have a clue about cross contamination procedures. No matter, no matter, deal with it, you can only ask and then eat later if necessary. Deal with it JessOkay…

Now, to clarify, these services are newly built just off the A30 near Roche in Cornwall. They’re pretty…

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Pill to Treat Celiac? Ha ha.

In my inbox this morning is a Google Alert: “A Pill to Treat Celiac Disease Could be Coming Soon.” Be still my heart! Ha ha.

Of course, we’ve seen these types of claims before. It sounds like a real alternative to a life-long gluten free diet, but is at best a way to avoid damage from occasional cross-contamination. If it works. If it passes all the FDA requirements. If it doesn’t have nasty side-effects. Gluten Dude puts it directly and succinctly: No…There is NOT a drug that will allow celiacs to eat gluten.

But, as someone who essentially has no symptoms from being glutened, being a little less nervous every time I eat out would be great. Some people know first-hand to avoid a restaurant that talks-the-talk, but doesn’t walk-the-walk. Not me.  Continue reading