Welcome to Episode 3 of Dear Gluten Dude where I answer emails sent to me from the gluten-free community regarding a whole range of topics. Today we’re talking about paranoia and how much a newly diagnosed celiac really needs to worry about gluten and cross-contamination.
As always, no sponsors here but I do have a mobile created specifically for the celiac community that I promise you will help you live a better gluten-free life. Check it out at GlutenDude.app. Ok…on to the inbox.
“Hey Gluten Dude. I’m so glad I found your site! I’m having a mental issue that I’m sure is not unique, so I hoped you could help. I feel like I’m slipping into “crazy” territory with the level of concern I have about gluten. I’m recently diagnosed and still getting the hang of it, but I find myself freaking out (on the inside) when my daughter puts her lunchbox on the kitchen counter…wasn’t it also on the school lunch counter? And on the kitchen counter at her dad’s (non GF) house?
But what about her blankie? It was at her dad’s house! And her grandma’s house! I cannot wash it every time she’s at my house, but then it gets on the couch, and then I sit on the couch, and then I eat a snack OMG GLUTEN AHHHH! Or her clothes when I give her a hug. Or…Or…Or…
This is a constant brain cycle. Besides washing my hands before I eat, washing the counter before I prepare food, and keeping a GF kitchen/house (which I am), I’m doing what I can, right? Are there any good resources about chilling the fuck out for the anxious among us?”
First…and I say this with love…breathe. Just breathe. Everything is gonna be ok.
Second…you’re newly diagnosed. This level of panic, for lack of a better work, is not unusual for someone in your shoes. You don’t wanna get sick. That is very understandable. Many of us have been exactly where you are right now. It’s not fun, but you will get through it.
How? By realizing that gluten isn’t everywhere and if a crumb here and there somehow makes it into your house, the odds of that crumb getting from a blankie into your intestines are very, very slim. You already clean your counters before preparing food and wash your hands before eating. What else can you do? There is no need to live a life of paranoia. It’s not healthy for you…or your daughter who is most likely picking up on it.
While yes, we all need to be extremely diligent, the majority of that diligence is when you are outside the comforts of your own home. At home, common sense should prevail.
So sure, wipe that lunch box down. Shake that blankie out if it makes you feel better. But live your life. Your celiac diagnosis means a new beginning and a new journey. Make that journey a positive one. And worst case scenario, if you do get glutened, it’s not a death sentence. You do recover from it. I’m not trying to minimize anything here. I’ve been glutened. It sucks. But you take your knocks, you learn your lesson and you move on. Ain’t that what life is all about?
And that’s a wrap of Episode three of Dear Gluten Dude. My how time flies. Thanks for listening. If you’ve got questions about living with celiac disease, send me an email and I’m more than happy to help. Just mosey on over to glutendude.com and send me a message and who knows it may even become its own podcast episode. And please do not forget to check out my mobile app over at glutendude.app. Almost 300 restaurants listed, all vetted by the Gluten Dude team. If you’ve got celiac disease, this app can take a lot of the stress out of our fun little autoimmune disease.
Til next time my friends.
6 thoughts on “Is it possible to be TOO afraid of gluten?”
Well it’s a dynamic balance isn’t it? That’s what makes it anxiety inducing. On the one hand, the level must get to above 20ppm to probably trigger anything for most people. On the other hand, most people, even careful people get glutened regularly even while being careful. This is a hard thing we’re trying to do. It would help if doctors just understood better and were quicker with remedies. If there was at least some treatment besides a medrol dose pack, which has obvious health risks of its own.
In the past 4 years, I’ve been glutened badly only twice and glutened a little about 4 times. Sometimes I just suspected I was glutened. And I hardly ever have actual proof. There’s an element of “living with uncertainty” in this. Which brings up phrases like due dilligence and reasonable effort.
The main thing is, don’t expect more from yourself or others than you can give realistically. If you’re feeling like it’s too crazy, it probably is. Your brain is very good at telling you what’s too much for it.
When you see the lunchbox on the table, tell your brain, don’t worry, every day, it’s cleaned and before meals, it’s cleaned again.
When you see the blankie, tell yourself, I’ll go shake it out, then it can come in. If my hands touch something, oh well, I’ll wash them before I eat.
Every scary thing, make a sentence that tells your mind what the plan is. Stick to that plan. Go over, even while anxious, why the plan will work.
We’re not saints or epic heroes. We’re people who do our best, that’s all.
[round of applause]
Everything you said Angelica is spot on.
Good one, yes; and what I would add is simply the more you know the less anxious you will be. Please go to any of the national organization websites — gluten.org/getting started, celiac.com, National Celiac Assoc, and Beyond Celiac, all have excellent information for newcomers. Once you have a handle on your situation you will worry less. It’s too bad so many newbies overthink this whole thing. Accept the fact you will get glutened at some point- therefore pick up a bottle of GlutenEase and if it happens to you, take 2 right away. It won’t kill you and you may likely get good and sick, but it does help move things along faster.
Education is indeed key.
Now about that GlutenEase…
Omg yesss this is so me. I especially feel horrified at the checkout counter since somebody could have bought bread just before me and glutened the whole belt. The biggest problem is that I don’t even know if ‘d be able to tell if I got glutened :(. (I was diagnosed only a year ago, together with Hashimoto’s, and I don’t have the classical symptoms.) My dream is to someday have a gluten sniffing dog or perhaps a celiac friend/test-bunny to go out with. Thanks for all the work gluten dude, it gives me some hope. I’m excited that there’s a podcast now!
Always happy to help.
And don’t hate me…but I’m in the very minority in that I think a gluten-sniffing dog is overkill. But that’s just me.