I have to tell you that I got sick last week and couldn’t figure out how it happened. Then I found out that my husband used my toaster oven by accident without realizing it was mine. He toasted several pieces of wheat bread to make sandwiches for himself. Of course, he also left plenty of crumbs behind. I then cooked my toast the next morning and the next thing I knew I was sick again. I am very familiar with the reactions my body experiences to gluten exposure now, so I began to investigate. A few questions later, I had my answer. I wasn’t upset, (and he felt awful) but it made me realize I need to share some practices I have developed over time to protect myself.
Cross contamination is a very real threat to people with Celiac disease. You can avoid all the foods you need to avoid, and still experience gluten exposure if you are not careful. For those who don’t know the term yet, cross contamination is when something that is gluten free is contaminated by something that contains gluten. Everyone has different sensitivities to gluten. Minor exposure to gluten may or may not affect you. Cross contamination always causes me symptoms, though they are not severe thank goodness. I have my kitchen set up to limit exposure to any form of gluten to be on the safe side. But as my experience shows, no matter how careful you are, periodically you will be exposed to gluten.
I have my own set of appliances in the kitchen. I have my own toaster oven and my own blender for mixing juices and foods. I also have some dishes that are identified as mine. I have a butter dish that is mine. I have a cutting board no one else is allowed to use. I even have a section of counter space that only I am allowed to use. It is off limits to everyone else. I have a kitchen drawer set aside that contains my cooking utensils. Some of the spoons are marked with permanent marker, but I try to buy colored utensils. I always buy blue handled spoons and knives to indicate they are for gluten free cooking only. That makes it easy to spot them and avoid cross contamination.
When I bake, I always make my gluten free items first. I use paper liners whenever possible, such as in the muffin cups or on the baking sheets. You can buy baking paper at the store. If you are highly sensitive to gluten, make sure that any baking you do later does not result in air born flour with gluten landing on your gluten free baked goods. Also make sure you don’t even breathe in any flour when it is in the air during mixing. Flour is particularly hazardous because it seems to get on everything when mixing ingredients.
Gluten free living is not difficult, but it does require diligence whenever working in the kitchen. I wasn’t upset with my husband, but I did use heatproof paint and painted my name on top of the toaster oven. Hopefully he will make toast for sandwiches with his eyes open. 🙂