One of the risks of living gluten free is that—over time—you might get complacent. This, of course, means that you are likely to make a mistake.
There are at least five situations where mistakes can happen:
- not checking the ingredients. You buy the same product that you’ve bought many times before… but this time, it has a “new, improved” recipe. Lo and behold: the new recipe involves the addition of something that contains gluten.
- not asking the waitstaff or chef. You order something that you’ve eaten many times before at this restaurant; but now the recipe has changed. Or the restaurant is now ordering supplies from a different company. Or the company that supplies the ingredients have changed their production methods. Any of these reasons may mean that the meal you’ve eaten safely before is now no longer safe.
- getting slapdash about food storage. You’re in a rush, and forget to label something correctly. Or to close up a packet tightly. Or you accidentally store a gluten free product in with our gluten products. Or there’s a spill, and it doesn’t get cleaned up…
- cutting corners in food preparation. You’re tired, and accidentally use the same utensil for gluten free and for not-gluten-free food, or prepare food in the wrong order, without cleaning between, so that the gluten free food is handled on the same surface as the gluten-full food. Or use a not-gluten-free ingredient by mistake.
- not paying attention in serving food. The same serving spoon is used for both types of food. Or there’s a spill of the not gluten-free food onto the plate (or cutlery) of the gluten free diner (or, worse, into their food). Or a knife is used to double-dip into the butter.
Yes, it’s happened to us too. You think you have the hang of it all, take your eye off the ball—because, after all, life is complicated, with a lot going on—and mistakes happen.
What do you do?
One important thing we’ve learnt as parents of a coeliac child is not to blame your partner if they’re the ones who’ve made the mistake, putting your child at risk. (At least, not if it’s a one-off! Obviously if they’re not learning from the mistakes, then it is a more serious problem.) But if it was a genuine mistake, try not to cast blame around; it could easily be you making the mistake another time. Just make sure that you’re all learning from the mistake so that it doesn’t happen again.
We do run a mixed house; there are 5 of us, and living entirely gluten free would be expensive. But we take precautions. For instance, we no longer keep standard soy sauce in the house, just tamari. We never have baking powder that contains gluten, just the gluten free version. And we only have gluten free worcestershire sauce. This kind of tiny action reduces at least some of the risk, especially now that the children are older, and we have 5 chefs!