Life StoryApr/May 2009 Issue

Diary of a Dad - Gluten Free World

When my son Mike, age 9, was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007, my wife and I initially decided the whole family would go gluten free in solidarity with him. Then we saw the prices of gluten-free foods. “Sorry, champ,” we told him. “You have to go solo.” Until now. As his father, I wanted to better understand a little of what Mike goes through every day—not just the food he eats but the emotional impact, as well. So I decided to go gluten free for a week.

Tom Charla with son, Mike, writes his journal entry for the day.

Tom Charla with son, Mike, writes his journal entry for the day.

Saturday Evening
I plan to begin my gluten-free week tomorrow. In preparation, I’m off to the supermarket to pick up two half gallons of gluten-free chocolate fudge chunk ice cream. I love cookies, especially chocolate chip. If I have to give them up, I’m going to replace them with something just as bad. I tell Mike I’m going gluten-free this week and he laughs. “Good luck,” he says and walks away snickering.

Sunday
My gluten-free week starts. After showering, I weigh in to establish a benchmark. Breakfast is gluten-free pancakes. We have gluten-free pancakes regularly on weekends and they’re great. After breakfast, we’re off to church and on the way, my wife reminds me I cannot receive communion. I hadn’t thought about that. Only two hours into my gluten-free week and I realize I’m going to need to be much more diligent.

Lunch is a turkey and cheese sandwich on gluten-free bread from a local bakery. Pretty good, so I decide that’s what I’ll pack for work on Monday. Dinner is chicken cutlets and pasta, both gluten free. My daughter Katie’s pasta looks much better than mine. I am envious.

My family has had much practice at eating gluten free so most of the legwork is already done. I can only imagine the difficulty a newly diagnosed person faces in identifying foods—and everything else—they can and cannot consume.

Monday
Off to work with my brown bagged gluten-free sandwich. Breakfast for me is coffee and yogurt. My regular yogurt brand is gluten free according to the manufacturer’s website. Lunch is my sandwich, a diet soda and a small bag of corn chips, which are a regular lunch staple for me. Before lunch, I visited the manufacturer’s website for ingredient information and thankfully, my chips of choice are safe.

I work for a large corporation that has an extensive on-site cafeteria. I check in with the cafeteria office and discover they don’t have a list of available gluten-free foods and don’t really accommodate food allergies. I haven’t even had lunch yet and already I feel like an ‘outsider.’ The cafeteria manager agrees to review the menu with their nutritionist and publish on our employee website all the foods offered that are gluten free. Only time will tell if that happens.

I get home late from work, after my wife and kids have eaten dinner. Mike ate all of ‘our’ leftovers from the night before and my wife has forgotten about my new dietary needs. I’m starved, and with little choice, I settle for scrambled eggs with no toast (no toast!). My chocolate fudge chunk ice cream turns out to be the highlight of my day.

Tuesday
I awake starved. Grab my packed lunch (turkey and cheese cold cuts wrapped in corn tortillas) and head off to work. Same breakfast as most days -- yogurt and coffee. Mid-morning, I stop by my friend’s desk. Kelli has celiac disease and I ask about her experiences with the company cafeteria. Kelli suggests I stick with salad with oil and vinegar only. Nothing else, she says, can be trusted. She tells me she brings her lunch every day. If she doesn’t brown bag it, she usually doesn’t eat.

After lunch, I grab M&Ms from a colleague’s desk and head off to meetings for the rest of the day. Meetings are good this week, as they help keep my mind off of my usual afternoon snack: chocolate chip cookies from the cafeteria.

After work, I pick up Mike at karate class and we get home after 7:00 pm. My wife feels bad about my scrambled egg dinner the night before and has roast pork, mashed potatoes and vegetables waiting for me. She has even picked up a special treat: a gluten-free chocolate fudge cupcake from the local bakery. And what a treat it is.

Wednesday
I decide to work from home today. I have a lot to get accomplished and need to be away from the office distractions. Breakfast is a toasted, gluten-free French baguette smothered in butter and Grandma’s homemade raspberry jam. I work until about 11:30 and then take a break to drive to the local gluten-free bakery.
This bakery just opened its doors and having it nearby has been a godsend for us. I pick up two loaves of bread and four more gluten-free chocolate fudge cupcakes. Lunch is a roast beef and melted cheese sandwich. A cupcake rounds out my noontime meal quite nicely. Mike comes home from school not long after and is very vocal in his disagreement with my planned cupcake split—three for me, one for him.

This evening, dinner is leftovers from the night before. While we eat, my wife asks how I enjoyed working from home today. I’ve worked from home before but today seemed much better than other times. It doesn’t take long to realize that today was better because of my new diet. The comfort of home and knowing that gluten-free foods were in easy reach gave me an unmistakable feeling of safety.

After dinner, Mike and I split the last of the cupcakes—we even share some with his sister Katie.

Thursday
I wake up in a great mood. The comfort and safety I felt the day before are still with me. I know right away there won’t be any gluten ‘wanting’ for me today because I’ve mentally planned out my food for the day. I have my usual breakfast and eat the same roast beef sandwich for lunch that I had the day before. Yes, I’m a creature of habit. When I find something I like, I usually stick with it for a while.

Since I always toast the bread I make my sandwiches with, I’ve noticed that it takes gluten-free bread much longer than regular bread to brown. In our toaster oven at home, regular bread takes less than four minutes to brown. Browning gluten-free bread takes almost twice that long.
Later in the day, Amanda, my teammate and afternoon snack partner, comes by with a big, good-looking cookie for me. “You weren’t around, so I picked you up a…,” she starts to say before remembering my new diet. She feels horrible and so do I. I now understand a little bit how Mike feels when well-meaning friends and parents push cookies, cake and pizza on him at birthday and soccer parties. It must be really tough on him. Just thinking about it breaks my heart.

After getting home from work, dinner is beef stew and white rice. I toast up a piece of gluten-free bread (7 minutes) to accompany dinner. Another thing I’m noticing about being gluten free is that I feel less full after I eat. I had a good-size serving of stew and rice and bread, yet I still feel like I could eat more. I break out the chocolate fudge chunk ice cream.

Friday
I’m in the office early today at 6:30 a.m. Breakfast is only coffee. After yesterday’s near gift from Amanda, I figure I’ll play it safe and save my yogurt for my afternoon snack.

My wife plans out Mike’s food intake hours in advance every day. I’ve always eaten whatever is convenient, whenever it’s convenient. I sigh when I realize I am planning hours in advance around a little tub of yogurt.

Lunch is a roast beef and melted cheese sandwich, corn chips and a diet soda. A creature of habit.

Speaking of habits, my family’s habit is to make every Friday night pizza night at our house. Mike usually has a frozen, rice-crust pizza from the supermarket and the rest of us have fresh takeout pizza. Tonight is essentially the same, but with a little twist. My wife and daughter have the takeout pizza. Mike and I have fresh, handmade gluten-free pizza from our new local bakery.

I had been concerned about how pizza night would work out this week so it was a great surprise to come home and find my wife had ordered pizza from the bakery. I’ve tried this pizza before and so I know I won’t be disappointed. My wife also picked up more cupcakes while at the bakery. Mike and I are in heaven.

Saturday
It’s my last day being gluten free. During breakfast (eggs, bacon, gluten-free toast), Katie asks if I will continue being gluten free. Before I can respond, Mike answers for me. “No way!” he says adamantly. “Dad’s been eating my pizza, my cupcakes and my bread. No more. They’re mine!”

Later in the morning, we head to Katie’s end-of-season soccer party. After a fun soccer game of adults versus kids, the coaches break out pizza, cookies and brownies. Mike has been through this before and he simply walks away. I stare longingly. When we get home, I settle for a sandwich and Mike has hotdogs.

Mike and I hang out at home and watch sports on TV while the girls go out shopping. Late in the afternoon, my wife calls to tell us she’s discovered a restaurant in a neighboring town that caters to those with gluten sensitivities. Mike and I hop in the car and meet them ten minutes away.

The restaurant is great. The waitress brings two breadbaskets to the table, one with regular bread for the girls and one with gluten free for Mike and me. I have chicken marsala on a bed of gluten-free pasta. Mike has gluten-free penne carbonara.

Looking back on the week, I can’t help but think about how lucky we are living where we do. The new bakery, the variety of food stores in town and the restaurant we just discovered all help to make my family’s day-to-day living much easier. At the end of dinner, we ask but the restaurant doesn’t have gluten-free desserts. When we get home, Mike and I find the last two cupcakes.

Sunday Morning
I get out of bed and weigh in. My benchmark is unchanged.

Earlier in the week, I had planned to have a big bagel with breakfast this morning in celebration of my minor accomplishment. However, after getting a better understanding of the things Mike goes through each day, I decide to pass on the bagel. I need to be more considerate and less overt with the things I eat around Mike.

This week has also given me a new admiration for everyone who goes through this and other special diets. And in particular, I have a great new admiration for my son. While Mike is only 9 years old, he is, in many respects, a bigger man than I. LW

Tom Charla is married to Living Without’s design director Oksana Charla. They live in Glastonbury, Connecticut, with their two children, Mike and Katie.

Comments (25)

Wow.

Wow.

I am astounded that this father is being commended or praised. I am more shocked he had the guts to even post this pitiful story.

One week. One tiny pathetic week. And we wonder why kids today feel entitled to things they are unwilling to work for? This is exactly why - the example set by the parent.

I certainly hope the "blog" of his GF week is meant as a joke? Eating cupcakes and pizza? Complaining about having no money for everyone to go GF? So you let your son go it alone? You and your family eat out while your son gets crappy freezer goods?

This father's actions do not deserve praise or even recognition. What a disgrace. I see no humour in his ridiculous anecdotes... Or his feeling sorry for himself. I feel sorry for him, because he seems like a dink.

My daughter was so sick with celiac when diagnosed at the age of 4, it took her TWO years to get healthy, even with a strict diet and our household going completely gluten free. At that point we were willing to do anything to get her healthy. I would have given her a kidney if it would have done any good. We were honestly at a breaking point. A diet change in exchange for a healthy little girl? We were blessed and lucky to have this diagnosis. We all dropped gluten like a red hot poison.

It sounds like this dad is lazy to me. Too lazy to put the work in to protect his own son, which is something he has to live with and how sad for him.

Oh, and go eat an apple. Or a cucumber. Or a banana. Or carrots. Or lettuce. Or a stalk of celery. Or an avocado....

Seriously.

Posted by: WEN | October 15, 2014 10:41 PM    Report this comment

I too was surprised by this article. I have had close friends notice more gf options for me than this father did. HOWEVER! I still think it's a nice thing that he did, trying it out for a week. I'm sure it is even harder when you are the only one in a family that has to eat that way. I'm lucky because my boyfriend doesn't like cheese (I am also allergic to dairy) and that's the main component that I used to cook with.
I thought to myself, no wonder you think GF is expensive, you bought cupcakes like 3 times in a week and ate pizza and dinner out and bought gf bread. My gf bread costs the same as the good quality wheat bread that I used to buy and I DEFINITELY don't eat a sandwich every day. The lack of veggies was apparent to a lot of people, and to me, veggies are one of the best gf options. I like to eat a bowl full of sauteed zucchini with sauce instead of spaghetti and other squashes and potatoes are filling and unprocessed. When you say you didn't feel full all of the time, it's probably just because of what your'e eating. If you eat a lot of simple carbs (bread, pasta, pizza) then your blood sugar crashes and your pancreas sends insulin causing you to think you're hungry again. Anyway, good try I guess.

Posted by: GFDF Meg | October 15, 2014 1:52 PM    Report this comment

At 58 I was diagnosed as being gluten intolerant, since my husband and I were geographical bachelors at the time,it wasn't very difficult to convert. Don't get me wrong, the conversion was difficult, but only I had to go through it. When my husband came to visit, he ate gluten free. He wasn't very happy about it, but he dealt with it as a supportive husband. May I also mention, he has always been our cook as I worked bizarre hours. When we finally resumed living together, he joined me in being gluten free with everything except bread. We have 2 toasters. He had some difficulty relearning to cook, but he does real well now. It has need 5 years now, we eat very healthy, fruits, veggies, chicken and very little beef and pork. I was shocked that this family isn't all gf in support of their son. I hope he looks longingly at all cookies, pizza, pastries for a short time, that we have to do for the rest of our life!

Posted by: Jhirst1951 | October 14, 2014 7:52 PM    Report this comment

WoW what a sad article!
Good thing you wrote this article Tom.... Time to wake up, there is so much more to learn than just listening to what the good ole doctor says. Time to pick up a book 5 or 6 and start educating yourself on both celiac disease, nutrition & compassion.
Sending you and your family peace & love!

Posted by: OHMY | October 14, 2014 4:01 PM    Report this comment

I am so annoyed by this article and the self-righteousness that goes along with it. No parent should be commended for trying to live a week in their children's shoes. It's something we should be doing just because we are their parents. My son was diagnosed at age 4 and at first I did cook for everyone. I would have all five burners going just to cook a pan of GF pasta, a pan of sauce, a pan of gluten pasta and some vegetables. Over time I learned that except for a few of the things we eat the GF diet was not really that much more expensive. We don't eat a lot of processed food. We eat a lot of beans, vegetables and the like. Sure I buy cereal for the kids and GF flours to bake, but I am not about to bake anything in my household that everyone can't eat (whether they choose to eat it is another matter). As the parent of a GF child the first thing I do when going anywhere, with my child or not, is take into consideration the GF menu. I always know what options there are and what there aren't. I'm amazed that Tom spends his days wandering from place to place and never once thinks about the GF options for his son. Honestly, I feel bad for Tom's son. Tom pointed out how hard it must be when a friend offers something he can't eat, but I wonder how hard it must be to have a dad who seems to think it's a special treat to bring home GF cupcakes because he wants them himself.

Posted by: JessicaHF | October 14, 2014 12:26 PM    Report this comment

Has Tom ever considered how Mike came to have celiac disease? The tendency toward celiac and gluten intolerance are almost always inherited. The incredibly poor diet that the rest of the family observes is indicative (and predictive) of serious problems. While I commend Tom's effort to empathize with his son, I am appalled at the diet of empty calories and junk food that family eats. I realize it may be the North American norm, but it certainly isn't healthy.

Posted by: Jim M | October 14, 2014 12:25 PM    Report this comment

Tom, kudos to you for going gluten free but as a nurse I see your diet lacking in vegetables and fruits and way too many carbs. Even GF bread in excess is bad for you it raises the blood suger quicky and adds too many un-needed calories. It would be better to stick to organic meats, fruits, vegetables and whole milk products such as yogurt and kefir. You should try not having as much GF processes foods and see how your body feels.

Posted by: sdbcrn@hotmail.com | October 14, 2014 12:15 PM    Report this comment

You do realize, of course, that you removed gluten and added sugar. Now, try to eat without the substitutes--eat meat and veggies. Then you'll see a difference on the scale.

My husband has to put up with me being gluten-free, dairy-free, SOY-FREE (which is the hardest), high-fructose corn syrup free, and so much more. And my hubby loves to eat out. So, it could always be worse.

Posted by: GFCFSF | October 14, 2014 12:15 PM    Report this comment

Tom, I commend you for going gluten-free for one week. My first week was very difficult. I am luckier than most as I am the one that prepares 90% of the food in our household. I have still prepared some foods for them and something similar for me but for the most part the cost difference is not much to make the entire meal gluten-free. The Paleo lifestyle is mostly gluten-free so I have told my family that is how we eat....what they don't know won't hurt them. Since I am not the only person in my household that does the shopping my pantry is not entirely gluten-free but it is probably about 80%. My adult children that do shop will come home and tell me, "Guess what I found at the store today? I bought this "item" for you to try and I got enough for all of us!" So for the most part they are on board too. Many of the family recipes have been converted to the Paleo/Gluten-free lifestyle. I am very luck as my entire family is on board so my awkward moments are minimal. There have been a few times when we have gone somewhere and decided to find a place to eat and it was a little difficult. But, since I do like salads it is usually easy to find a good salad bar or good filling dinner salad.

Posted by: CarolEsse | October 14, 2014 11:19 AM    Report this comment

I, too, wonder why this father is being commended at all. He did nothing to be supportive of his son for years, then spent a week eating mostly junk food and sweets. He states that having his whole family gluten free is too expensive, yet has plenty of money to buy junk food and sweets and eat out. Also, isn't he at all concerned about his son getting cross-contaminated? If the rest of the family is eating gluten, cross-contamination is a serious issue. My son is celiac and extremely senstive to gluten and dairy. Our family of five has been completely gluten and dairy free at home for several years. We willingly do this so we do not risk cross-contaminating my son and causing him severe pain for weeks. There are many naturally gluten free foods that are not expensive, and we cook and bake our own food. This father's actions do not deserve praise.

Posted by: Susan G | October 14, 2014 10:43 AM    Report this comment

Your effort to eat as your son does, for a week, is a commendable gesture. In real-world celiac eating, you'd have a far more difficult aspect to work with: cross-contamination. For example, your office cafeteria would need to prepare foods without any chance of crumbs falling in to your dish, or a glove being used to handle gluten bread and then your apple. Oh, wait -- you didn't order an apple!
Everywhere you ate, not only the food itself but the kitchen's and server's awareness of cross-contamination would have to be on your mind.
And do get tested. You have (I think -- no time to check) a 20% chance of CD as a first-degree relative,

Posted by: Kay S. | October 14, 2014 10:19 AM    Report this comment

I too have a son with celiacs but in my case I went gluten free with him. I have a very limited income so my experience is much harder than the father in this article. With gluten free treats at almost $4 a cupcake we have learned to go without except for special occasions. Convenient food is rare...I make our bread and dessert products from scratch to save money. We eat out less but are thankful for the gluten free menus when we do indulge. Instead of gluten free bread we tend to use a lot of veggies and just skip it since a store bought loaf if around $6 and the mix for the bread machine is similarly priced. We bring our own food to gatherings and I still stare longingly at foods we cant have. I miss a good bagel or burger on a soft nummy bun...there are so far no substitutes for these that are as delicious as the originals. I don't think my son could have done this alone. The temptations on a teen boy are too strong and so the whole family has made this difficult change. ( Little sister gets her gluten fix at school away from the rest of us!) I'm proud of us for doing this together, just like we tackle other family hurdles...TOGETHER!

Posted by: Stupermu | May 20, 2014 12:10 PM    Report this comment

Let's face it, while the proteins, healthy grains, fruits, vegetables and seeds are ideal - the dad was focused on what his son goes through - such as at a kid's sporting event or celebration that often involves pizza, hamburger, hotdogs, and sweet treats - all wheat-laden. You cannot expect a kid to take just meat and vegetables to school - they want to take a sandwich to be like other kids - since most of the cafeterias at schools have no GF offerings. Recently, the determination at Lesley College in Boston violated the Americans with Disabilities Act that schools have to offer safe gluten-free meals may change all this.

So yes it appears that the family could be eating healthier but perhaps he was just focusing on trading the wheat-based breads and treats for GF ones.

Posted by: Sharon M | July 26, 2013 11:03 AM    Report this comment

Working in the alternative health field, I was absolutely surprised that the food consumed by Tom was of such poor nutritional value. Gluten free bread is still bread, which would be better left off the plate. Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables people!! My husband has a severe allergy to gluten, and after seeing what happened to him, I decided to go gluten-free also. I have never regretted it because it caused us to eat a plate full of vegetables. We still eat beef, chicken, pork and fish. We both maintain average weight and can eat all the vegetables (which I jokingly call greenery) we desire. It's been fun learning how to cook vegetables in new and tasty ways. Look at all the information on healthy eating---it's all about the greenery!!!

Posted by: Janette F | July 19, 2013 9:49 PM    Report this comment

This is a horrible diet! There is no nutrition. I tried to count the number of vegetables in the week and I think there were only 2. There were miniscule amounts of whole fruits as well. This family needs nutritional counseling!

Posted by: Virginia Morgan | July 16, 2013 10:55 PM    Report this comment

It's good that you chose to see how living gluten free differs for your son. Y'all have it pretty easy, with specialty GF bakery & restaurant nearby! I can't imagine how people made it 10 years or even 5 years ago, since most GF products (and labeling) are quite recent!
My husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease a couple months ago, at the age of 61. He's been struggling with the unavailability of most of the things he used to eat. (He IS losing weight, because he ate WAY too much fast food and junk!)
I understand about the expense of GF foods, too, since our grocery bill has tripled. I'm doing much more from scratch, and will be experimenting with bread baking GF as soon as the weather cools down (TX in July is NOT the place to do a lot of baking, air conditioning or not!)
Keep in mind Celiac tends to be hereditary. Might not be a bad idea for the whole family to go GF!

Posted by: Dragonfyre | July 16, 2013 5:57 PM    Report this comment

Try going gluten free AND dairy free, bud. I don't have celiac disease, but I'm definitely sensitive to both gluten and dairy as well as to corn, beef, bell peppers, tomato, zucchini, yellow squash, cashews, sesame, and about a dozen other things. I'd kill to be able to eat yogurt and ice cream of any variety. I was first diagnosed 30 years ago, when there was NOTHING commercially available. It's much better now, but anything commercially available that's GFCF still usually has corn. I found Europe, when I travelled on business, much more aware and concerned about these issues.

Anonymous

Posted by: Jane L | July 16, 2013 12:18 PM    Report this comment

I too noticed how Tom was depending too much on processed foods! I've been gluten free and allergic to beef for 15 - 20 years. I was miserable in the beginning trying to find out what I was allergic to, had health problems of asthma, IBS, diverticulitis, dermatitis, and knew where every bathroom was from Marathon, FL to Key West, my daily driving route. Having to be my own detective in figuring out all my allergies, life is much easier today because of the amount of gluten-free foods now at restaurants and grocery stories. But it can be a challenge to make sure you get enough veggies and fresh fruit in your gluten-free world. Just because you can now buy gluten-free cakes, breads, pastas and cookies, doesn't mean that's what you should eat. My husband and I have gone vegan and have become much healthier! Now I eat whole-plant based food when out and make my own processed baked goods at home to eliminate those dairy products.

Posted by: June M | July 16, 2013 11:38 AM    Report this comment

Hi Tom, my husband was diagnosed 16 years ago after I urged him to go to a Homeopath to try & get to the bottom of his ailments because he was too weak to hold our newborn son for more than 10 mins! I make all my food from scratch and am still trying to come up with the best bread recipe which is very challenging, but I will persevere, because $6 for a tiny loaf of GF bread is extortionate! Buying from bakeries is not an option, it is way too expensive! For the most part we all eat GF as it is so much easier for me and I never eat the things he can't in front of him, that would be cruel, even though he says he doesn't mind! Personally, I like the GF rice pasta and even the corn pasta, I do not feel bloated after eating them! I am always cooking and baking and trying new recipes and just last night I made the "Tuscan Chicken with GF Pasta" from the Living Without website, it was delicious! I also recently tried the same websites "GF Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins" recipe and that was a real hit with the family! Personally, I find it a healthier way to eat as we consume all home-made food, including home-made pizza, lots of fruit and veges and limited baked goods. Ice-cream is his favourite dessert, but in very limited quantities and never every day! I would also like to recommend 2 books by a Naturopathic Doctor: Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D. The first called: "The Coconut Oil Miracle", is full of valuable information, including a few recipes (although they are not GF, he wrote this long before his recipe book). The recipe book is called "Cooking with Coconut Flour". The cookie recipes are so easy to make and so delicious, but they do not keep long, so I always share with friends and neighbours - that way I share the calories too! Best of luck to you and your family and like others have commented, watch the high calorie foods, they do not provide nourishment and, in excess, are detrimental to one's health.

Posted by: Glenda L | July 16, 2013 11:23 AM    Report this comment

I'm sorry but after reading your article, I feel the need to bring you into today's reality! Why are people commending you? For five years you ignored the efforts of your son & then on top, ate your own way because it was too expensive to eat healthily? Denial, denial, denial. Seriously, man you are a total sugar & carb & dairy junkie! OF COURSE, you didn't lose any weight (if that was one of your goals - which it probably was since you weighed yourself). Where are your vegetables & fruits? Where is the exercise? Wake up! There has ALWAYS been great natural food around that isn't bread or white rice, pasta or yogurt!!

Posted by: Janice S | July 16, 2013 10:40 AM    Report this comment

I also have Celiac, and as a mother who prepares the food for the family, they largely are gluten free as well. To make things even more challenging, I am allergic to Dairy, Red meat, and eggs as well. While I love that you have gone G-free for your son, I do notice a lot of processed and very expensive foods in your post. G-Free does not have to be so expensive if you simply cut out the processed, packaged foods and eat more whole foods.

Posted by: Unknown | July 16, 2013 10:01 AM    Report this comment

Hi Tom, I think it was great that you did this for a week. It gives you a much better understanding about your son. However, you might want to take a look at your diet. It still has a lot of carbs and sweets. When I gave up the dairy, gluten and soy I pretty much gave up the bread (gluten free as well). I found I felt better without the extra carbs. I am not perfect. I still love dark chocolate. But I have lost 14 lbs and my thyroid is back in the normal range with no medication. I am always working on more vegetables as they are the challenge for me. For breakfast I have a chicken gluten free sausage. Anyway, good luck!

Posted by: eagrow | July 16, 2013 9:47 AM    Report this comment

Thank you, Tom, for caring about your son enough to do this week for him, and then caring about the rest of the celiac and other food-allergic community to share it with us.
My family (non-celiacs) dig right in when I make something like homemade mac and cheese with my favorite rice pasta. They say it's delicious. They don't eat GF all the time with me, but they don't mind when I don't feel like making 2 separate dinners. Most of our meals are naturally GF, as the high price of the processed imitative foods prevents me from cooking those all the time, and I also like variety. As for GF desserts, I rarely eat desserts but when I do I really enjoy it.....my favorite is chocolate ice cream. My family is very sensitive to if I might feel left out or not be able to eat at a social function, and are always interested in exploring a new restaurant that claims to have GF options and understand serving the food allergic.

Thanks again, Tom.

Posted by: JEANNE A | July 16, 2013 9:02 AM    Report this comment

This was a touching article and quite relatable! When I realized I had a gluten allergy, my parents ate the foods I eat in the beginning as well. My mom mostly does but my dad has a mental aversion to the rice pasta! I would be interested to see how he dealt with a full gluten free week now, 4 years later!

Posted by: Lee E | June 19, 2011 8:55 PM    Report this comment

Tom, very rarely does just one person in a family have celiac disease or gluten intolerance since it is genetic. My hope is that your whole family has been tested and continues to get tested every year, because you can never be ruled out at this point. I commend you on your week of eating gluten free in support of your son. Please consider adopting a gluten free lifestyle for yourself and your entire family. It does not have to be expensive. Many of the GF foods you mention in your article that you buy and eat are processed foods. By eating more whole foods such as meats, fruits and vegetables, GF becomes even healthier and less expensive. As Michael Pollan states, "There is no such thing as cheap food, you pay for it somewhere." Good luck to you and your family! Nadine Grzeskowiak RN CEN Gluten Free RN

Posted by: Nadine G | June 14, 2011 8:50 PM    Report this comment

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