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    For the Thanksgiving person. Yes, you need to switch the focus from the food to the gathering of friends and family, however there are ways to make the foods you love (mostly) without losing the flavor. Your favorite gravy? Try substituting potato starch or tapioca starch for the flour as a thickener. Pie? There are a lot of great recipes out there for gluten free pie crust, or for other desserts that don’t have crusts. Try searching Pinterest for “Gluten Free”. I’m fortunate as my cousin’s son cooks for us for Thanksgiving and he’s a chef, who takes pleasure in challenges. The year I was diagnosed and went gluten free, I was really bummed about Thanksgiving, anticipating that I was going to end up with not much to eat. Instead, I got the entire traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, gravy, desserts, bread and all. He just used gluten free ingredients to sub out the things that we had always used, and if it didn’t end up tasting right (he experimented before the holiday itself) he made something else (notably, this Crustless Pumpkin Pie in place of the traditional one.) I hope you have a fantastic holiday and your family supports your new gluten free lifestyle.

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    Food from any major manufacturer could vary in gluten free status based off where it’s being manufactured. My plant in Illinois might not follow the same practices as the plant in New Jersey, so no matter if I read something is gluten free online, I read the label.

    That said, Cheetos are one of my last remaining goodies that are available just about anywhere. If I do something stupid and run out of food with me, they’re generally a safe bet to grab. Likely safer than trusting the local diner to be up to date on gluten free practices.

    1. 2.1


      Connie makes a very valid point. My former employment includes 14 years in the food manufacturing industry. As a result of that I read “into” labels – as in, I read between the lines of what they don’t tell us. Here is a very simple practice I have taught myself to adhere to when shopping:

      Craving snack food – like right now.

      Go to the snack food section of grocery store and find something that looks good (and should be free of gluten). Pick it off the rack and read the label. Gluten free? Certified gluten free? Produced on a line that also produces? Produced in a certified gluten free facility? The label may tick all those boxes in a positive way…BUT!

      Now I place the item back on the rack and literally take a step back. I now am looking to see what other items this manufacturer has on the rack in the same type (size/shape) of packaging. If I see anything that obviously contains gluten I sigh (literally and usually rather loudly) and walk my way to the fresh fruits and veggies (where I should have been to start with).

      Okay, so that is a little vague maybe. Lets try it this way. In the snack aisle I see bagged raw nuts. I think, “I can do raw or even roasted nuts.” I read the label and there is nothing there indicating that gluten contamination would be a concern. Then I step back and see this same manufacturer also produces several varieties of trail mix (that contain wheat) and the packaging is the same as the raw nuts. That screams to me – POTENTIAL CROSS CONTAMINATION.

      Thanks, but I’ll take a pass and head for the produce aisle.
      Stay safe out there Celiacs.

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    For the recently diagnosed, eating gluten free replacements and remaining symptomatic…” I have started to go gluten free with replacement pastas and other foods that say they are gluten free. I have noticed that my bathroom habits have changed but I am still having muscle and joint pains and I feel hungry all the time. Do you know if this is normal?”

    Yes. The short answer is simply, yes. When you begin your gluten free journey with replacement foods that “say they are gluten free” there is no doubt you will still be getting glutened and/or will still be eating foods that your system can’t process properly. To the second point, it is extremely common for celiacs to have sensitivity to other foods such as milk, soy, high fructose corn syrup…

    Yes. The long answer is, yes. The long answer is that you are normal (in celiac terms) and that the gluten free diet is a journey, not an instant fix all. Read the dude’s book. LISTEN to your body. Keep a food diary, especially in the beginning, to help you HEAR what your body is telling you. Go Whole30, elimination diet, eat real food, whatever you want to call it.


    K.I.S.C. (Keep It Simply Celiac). For at least two weeks but preferably 30 days eat nothing except fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats that you have prepared yourself (forget eating out during this phase). This allows you to think clearly without the gluten and/or other food triggers messing with your head (brain fog). This allows your gi tract to clear and begin the healing process (and I stress the word BEGIN). Assuming success of not getting glutened during this time it will give you hope through understanding you CAN feel better, function better, and experience less anxiety and pain. That hope will help you embrace the journey of healing and understand that this takes time…a lifetime.

    Is it worth the effort? Yes.
    Can it be overwhelming in the beginning? I won’t lie, Yes.
    Does it get easier as new habits form? Yes.
    Will there be unexpected setbacks? Yes, so expect them.

    Okay, so what can long term results look like? In my early 20s I quit trying to run/jog. I quit because 5k was the longest distance I could manage but that took a lot of ibuprofen to get there. My knees, I thought, were destroyed. Yes, this was long before celiac diagnosis but obviously after onset of the disease. At 50, I now can run a painless 5k and haven’t taken any type of painkiller/anti-inflammatory for well over a year. And that is just one example of former joint pain. The other improvements would take a blog the size of this one to elaborate upon.

    Wishing you the best,

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    For the restaurant anxiety guy, trust your gut — pun intended. If you feel uneasy about the restaurant or server, very nicely explain your concerns and tell them that you’ve changed your mind and will not be dining with them after all. Leave a tip if they’ve already brought water and stuff because they’ll have to reset the table. My 24 year old son was diagnosed at 13 years of age. I cannot tell you how many restaurants we left because he felt they couldn’t deal with making him a safe meal. But it was his call and we always supported him. The key is to be nice (not snarky) and not make a scene. Bonus advantage: My son quickly learned to read people and whether or not they were willing or able to advocate for him!!

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    Linda J-H

    Regarding Thanksgiving turkey gravy – to quote Mark Bittman, “Cornstarch, People!”

    1. 5.1


      My husband is allergic to corn. And it’s always GMO crap anyway. Arrowroot for the win! :)

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    Thanks for doing the mailbags. Seems like it could be really helpful for people to know there’s someone reading and listening. Thanks for your hard work for our community. I am always glad to see a post from you.

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    The newbie with muscle and joint pains should probably be being monitored for other nutrient deficiencies, since those can develop with untreated celiac and take a while to recover, and feel awful in the meantime.

    When I was first diagnosed I had MANY deficiencies. Some, like potassium and vitamin k, came back up on their own, but my iron and b12 need supplementation indefinitely.

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    To the person asking about the CSA…I am a farmer and I have a degree in Agriculture Science. I am also a member of a CSA, I’m a horse and donkey owner and I have celiac. The answer to your question is, sadly, a qualified yes. The produce grown in that soil will be gluten free in itself, but it may pick up gluten residue. For example, a tomato will always be gluten free (until we manage to create some GMO monstrosity), however it may have small amounts of gluten on the outside.

    I suggest that you wash everything very thoroughly and limit handling until the produce is clean. Talk with the farmer as well so that he is aware of the issue. There are other kinds of cover crops that may do what he needs without the gluten issue, such as field peas, clover, alfalfa, etc. Using cover crops is an excellent farming practice that the world needs more of, but is is one more thing for us celiacs to have to watch out for.

    As a horse owner, I have also had problems dealing with rye grass in the hay I feed. Donkeys are also tough because they need a super low calorie, high fiber diet – barley straw is the perfect feed for them. Feeding them without killing me is a challenge of absurd proportions.

    1. 8.1

      Kelly Sara Shorrocks

      This is very helpful! Thank you! I’ll ensure I wash all my veggies super well now…I always did, but feel I’ll put a little more care into it.

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    As a side note for the gluten community, be aware of big, industrial dishwashers like you will find in hospitals, cafeterias, etc. and smaller water-recycling dishwashers. These use the same water to wash dishes all day and then sterilize the dishes with steam. That water will have dissolved food particles in it from whatever was served that day. The dishes and utensils will come out the other end clean and sterile, but may have an invisible coating of gluten on them. If you eat in a hospital cafeteria, beware even of the gluten-free choices and always ask for disposable dishware.

    1. 9.1

      Cali Celiac

      Agreed. Diagnosed a little over a year ago at 58 years old I am on B1, B12, D3, folic acid, iron and potassium. I also bruise easily and will be asking my GP about adding vitamin K. I’ve been GF for a little over a year and recent tests showed none of these levels returning to normal yet. 58 years misdiagnosed seems to have taken a toll on my intestines that will take a while to repair. Recently have started feeling less foggy, but still battling depression, migraines, muscle cramps and lots of arthritis (recently diagnosed with spinal stenosis). CD-the disease that just keeps on giving, even though you don’t want it!

      1. 9.1.1

        Cali Celiac

        This comment was meant to be a reply to B who was replying to “newbie with muscle and joint pains”.

    2. 9.2

      Cali Celiac

      Wow, I hadn’t thought about that one. Thanks, another gluten land mine lying in wait.

    3. 9.3


      The sickest I ever got from a so-called gluten free meal was when I was in hospital. This makes sense to me.

  10. 10

    D Bray

    Yo Dude, loved your article in Simply Gluten Free. Diagnosed around 2007. My wife had a serious panic attach the week before Thanksgiving – changing everything.

    Heard it all – “there is no wheat in the gravy, perfectly good to eat – just has flour!” to “Gluten Free, we don’t have anything here that is free”

    Everyday there is a new and different surprise.

    Glad you are out there working with us.


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