It is with great reluctance that we head down this path. In addressing some of our health issues, it seems I can’t escape the suggestion that our family go gluten-free (dairy free has also been suggested—for the most part we eliminated that years ago, but while we’ve been in Canada, where it’s a little easier to get our hands on cheese, I must admit to a little—no a lot—of cheating in this area.).
This is not the first time this course of action has been suggested. I have resisted for several reasons:
- We already eat a gluten-reduced diet, since we use flours like Kamut and Spelt that are low in gluten. That was something of an adjustment in the first place, but now something we’re very comfortable with (read: something we don’t want to change).
- I want to eat whole grains, and many gluten-free recipes aren’t whole grain or use grains/flours I am not excited about using, like potato and corn.
- It means saying goodbye to some favorite foods, and it seems unfair to “penalize” other members of the family whose diets don’t necessarily need altering.
- This kind of diet is very hard to sustain when we move back to China, so what’s the point of shifting everything? It’s a lot of learning and unlearning for the family cook. (Sigh.)
- Just how do you live without bread? Really. Some of the baked goods are easy enough to get rid of—they’re not necessary items. But say goodbye to toast AND sandwiches AND garlic bread…this seems a bit crazy, and hard to explain to a child. I’ve made attempts at baking gluten-free loaves before, and in China managed to gather up all the necessary ingredients (which meant importing my own xanthan gum), but all my loaves failed miserably. They looked glorious when I pulled them out of the oven, but moments later they crashed in the middle and were a disgusting mess. We sold our bread machine when we packed up for China, so I need old-fashioned bread-making recipes, and almost all the gluten-free baking recipes seem to be made for the breadmaker.
- I can’t help feeling there is a better way. Is eliminating most of a food group really the best way to handle this situation?
Note: I had planned this post to this point until this past weekend when we had two experiences that changed my heart on this matter:
- The kids and I made a successful and tasty gluten-free bread for home economics on Friday. I’ll share more about that tomorrow.
- On the weekend, we visited with some friends we haven’t seen since college. Another friend was present who is violently allergic to gluten, so the subject came up. The friends from college shared their experiences going gluten-free for two years to help their daughter, who was having difficulties with attention in school and behavior at home. The problems they described were severe, but we have seen shades of every issue they described in one of our children. JavaMan, one of the biggest holdouts in this whole gluten-free thing immediately became more supportive to the idea.
So we’re going gluten-free. It was tough on the weekend, because I’m still not thinking that way completely, and after church there was cake and I had arranged no substitute. With our motivation firmly in mind, though, we’re going to make this work. I welcome suggestions and advice!