Tell Your Family ‘All it Takes is ONE Crumb’

celiac cross contamination

This post is about a family’s insistence on not being careful around a celiac family member. It seems I get these types of emails once a month. It is so maddening/depressing that here we are in 2021 and people in our community are still dealing with this sh*t.

Before I get into the email, whenever I do a blog post, I try to find an interesting image to go along with it. For all you WordPress geeks out there like me, you know this as the ‘featured image’. There are a number of good stock photos sites that are free to use. As I was searching for an image of ‘bread crumbs’, I actually got anxious looking at all of the photos. No joke. I’ll call it PSCD: Post Traumatic Celiac Disorder. Anyway…onto the email.

Hello! I was diagnosed with celiac disease for about 4 months. My mother immediately realized the situation and took action (she is fantastic). She decided not to take the gluten out of the house (only I was going to eat gluten-free), bought me gluten-free food and tried to avoid any contamination.

The problem is that I don’t live alone with my mother. I have a stepfather and he has two children. And they are not careful. They eat bread and cookies and don’t wash their hands and then touch things like the dishes I eat. I warn them and they say that I am obsessive and it is not because they do not wash their hands that I will be in pain. Sometimes they say that they just touch my stuff with 1 or 2 fingers, so for them, it doesn’t matter.

My mom and I don’t know what to do anymore because they don’t do things well, nor do they want to take gluten out of the house. The problem is that I have other bowel problems and there cannot be contamination at all.

Please help us. My mother and I no longer know what to do.

I’m so out of patience for this kind of crap. What will it take to get the world to understand the seriousness of celiac disease. I could just sit here and rant and rave, but that won’t help anyone. So…and you may be familiar with this phrase lately…let’s trust the science. Multiple studies have shown that damage to the intestine can be caused by as little as 10mg of gluten. How much is 10mg you ask?

10mg bread crumb

This image is from Gluten-Free Watchdog. On the right is a quarter. On the left is 10mg of toasted bread. Mind you, this is toasted bread. 10mg of pure gluten would be much smaller.

Ok…so now we know that the laziness and cruelty of your family (mom not included) can hurt you, what is the solution? Let’s go over some options.

1) Move out. And I know this is most likely not an option since it’s your mother’s husband, it’s a financial burden, etc. But family health comes first. And the fact is, they are putting you in harms way with their callousness. Perhaps something to discuss with your mom until they realize what they are doing.

2) No more gluten in the house. From your email, I assume your mom does the food shopping. If she no longer buys any food with gluten in it, it greatly reduces the risk of cross-contamination. The only way gluten gets in your house is if the stepdad or sons bring it in.

For those of you out there, I am not suggesting every household with a celiac in it should be gluten-free. Mine was not for many years when my kids were younger. But everyone knew the rules and followed them. That’s what considerate people do.

3) Lay down the line. Since it seems you have already pleaded your case, stronger words/actions must be taken. I have no idea how old you are but someone has to take the lead here. You and/or your mom has to sit your stepdad down and have a serious talking to. Kind of like “it’s my way or the highway” kind of conversation. No idea how he will react to this, not knowing your relationship. But strength works.

4) You ever seen Pope of Greenwich Village? Yes I’m just kidding.

Hang in there. Hoping for better days ahead.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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