Friday, August 28, 2015

The Great Gluten-Free Indoors

Online shopping is the wave of the present, and future. Shoot, between eBay, Amazon and their peers, as well as food delivery services like Schwan’s and Peapod, a person could almost never leave their house to complete all their shopping!

That’s pretty cool, but what about a gluten-free home delivery service? I have to admit, I hadn’t thought of that idea much – and until recently, I had serious doubts about whether or not it even existed. Turns out I was wrong, very wrong! There are tons of online shopping portals for gluten-free food, and nearly as many sites that function as comprehensive lists for all of them, alive with links and everything! Let’s take a look at a few:
This handy site splits foods up into categories, and lets you know where you can go to order them. Snacks, meals, you name it, they have this site so categorized you’d have to try to miss something. And it’s very thorough – much of America is represented here. They even have beer, lots of beer!
This website functions somewhat as a top-ten list of sites at which to purchase gluten-free food for delivery. Some big names appear here: Amazon of course, but also niche offerings like Allergy Free Kosher and others. This is a definite bookmark!
This is a little bit different, and a really cool idea. Here we have a monthly subscription service that introduces you to new gluten free products – similar to more well-known services like Birchbox (makeup products), Stitch Fix (clothes) and BarkBox (probably self-explanatory!) And not only does it just introduce you to new gluten-free stuff, it’s feedback-based – so you can receive discounts, etc.

How cool are these ideas?! Now, I wouldn’t recommend being a shut-in, but winter is somehow approaching quickly… This could be just what we need!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back to the Gluten-free Grind

I wish I were so lucky. I’m talking about those fortunate folks out there who get the summers off! Oh to be a kid again, when June, July and August were light and carefree. If you happen to be a gluten-free teacher, or maybe a snowplow driver, listen up because this blog concerns you!

Let me set the scenario: As the leaves prepare to turn, you prepare to head back to the daily grind of your workplace. There are meetings to be had, paperwork to be done, deadlines to meet – but what about that other obstacle you haven’t had to deal with since late spring? That’s right, I’m talking about making your gluten-free lifestyle mesh with a decidedly gluten-heavy office.

It doesn’t have to be a hurdle that’s impossible to overcome. First, the simple tips:
  • Let your co-workers know about your diet, right out of the gate
  • Stock up on your own gluten-free snacks and keep them protected – to avoid cross contamination yes, but also to avoid poaching! They can be tasty, too!
  •  Be polite but consistent in your turndowns of others’ gluten-laced offerings – this sets a precedent that will only benefit you down the line
  •  Keep a little black book – mental or otherwise – of g-free restaurants near your office so when those inevitable work lunches pop up, you’ll be prepared with a winning suggestion

Now, the potentially awkward: What if you are a sufferer of celiac disease or gluten allergies but have a co-worker (or multiple co-workers) who are on a gluten-free diet, not due to celiac's or gluten intolerance? It may go a little something like this.

Joking aside, first, you could inform them about celiac disease (whether you have it or not), just to give them some perspective on the very real roots of gluten-free living. Additionally, explain cross contamination to them – that, paired with some celiac facts, could help change their thinking about not only your diet, but their own. Every little bit could make life easier for you!

Below are some expanded tips on the above ideas, as well as suggestions for at-work breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Happy working, and remember – June is only 10 months away!

Friday, August 14, 2015

School Days, the Gluten-free Way

Back-to-school time – it’s always a mad dash, isn’t it?! There are clothes to buy, teachers to meet, pencil boxes to fill and bus routes to memorize. It can be an exciting time, yes, but stressful as well. Potentially adding to that stress, whether you’re a parent, a kindergartner or a seasoned Senior, is the integration of a gluten-free diet into the at-school life.

But hey, what am I here for, if not to try and impart some wisdom to calm those new school year fears?! A great baseline not all of us might know about is something called the Section 504 plan. The Section 504 plan, meant to deter discrimination against those with disabilities, requires a school to provide gluten-free students with appropriate lunchtime meals. Clearly, this is a great place to start if you or your child suffers from Celiac disease. Fill one out, share it with your school’s administration and start the year off with some peace of mind.

For the rest of us gluten-free folks, Celiac or not, there are universal things we can all stick to. Help your child prepare a “Yes I’m gluten free, and here’s what that means” elevator speech if you deem it necessary, just to help thwart some awkwardness that’s sure to arise. Making sure before they leave your care for the schoolyard that they have a good grasp on what foods are off limits is a must, as is getting together a list of whom to go to at school if they run into an issue.

In that same vein, meet with your child’s teachers, principals, nurses, etc. prior to the start of school to share information about his or her dietary needs. Lastly, make it fun! Perhaps giving your child’s teacher a gluten-free “goodie bag” to stow away in the classroom would spice things up a bit, and give him or her a taste of home while away from its comfort.

The tips, tricks and tried-and-true methods surrounding a gluten-free back-to-school effort are so many, it’s going to take five links to completely fill you in! Read up and make this school year the best – and most gluten-free – one yet!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Gluten-Free University

August has arrived, and with it have come back-to-school thoughts for college-age students across the country. Now, a lot of us have been to college, and that same “lot” know it can entail more than just class. However, maintaining a good GPA and good health, especially for gluten-free students, is very realistic!

Despite that possibility, one of the bigger complaints we hear from gluten-free college students is that their university’s dining hall is not gluten friendly. I feel their pain – the closest thing I had to a dedicated, gluten-free snack in all my school years was paste, and that was a) in first grade, and b) 
I’m not certain that paste is even gluten free!

All joking aside, research shows that after an initial period of adjustment, students find that many schools do offer good gluten-free options such as dedicated menu items, toasters, refrigerators and the like – it’s just all about getting to know your surroundings. So, does that mean it’s easy to survive as a g-free student? By and large, yes, it seems that way. But, what about thriving? Here are some inside baseball tips that might make the difference between a so-so, and a super gluten-free college experience:
  • Bring your own microwave and mini-fridge – and let no one touch it but you
  • Keep your gluten-free utensils close to the vest – see above!
  •  Keep your room or apartment stocked with your go-to gluten-free snacks to fill in the gaps

These ideas are just scratching the surface of being successful in a gluten-free college environment. Here and here are a couple blogs that can expound upon what I’ve just shared. In addition, here is a blog that houses some very valuable tips about the gluten-free college experience, written by g-free college kids, themselves. And hey, a top-10 list of the most gluten-free friendly universities could come in handy, right? Here it is!  

May your (or your scholar’s) secondary education experience be gluten-free and devoid of cross contamination (as well as paste!).