Once you’ve made the Living Gluten-Free choice, you have some home-life decisions to make. If you live alone, the choices can be fairly simple. You could, as some of our friends have done, immediately eliminate gluten from the freezer, pantry, medicine cabinet, and make-up drawer and then drop those things in the trash or off at a food pantry. Or you could gradually phase gluten-y things out and replace them with gluten-free. Your choices should depend on your needs and interests.
But if you live with other people, your choices will probably be more complicated. You’ll probably have to talk about your situation with them and make some choices mutually for your new, improved lifestyle to work out.
Here’re some questions for you and your housemates to think about. Are your home and shared spaces going to be totally gluten-free? Will they be mostly gluten-free, except for, say, special occasions, or will they be open to all grains and products all the time? Who will do the cooking or meal prep? How will you store and use gluten-y and gluten-free foods? Who will clean mutually used food-prep or food-storage areas?
Depending on the answers, you may have to opt for some inconvenient choices around separate storage and food prep areas or different times for meal prep and eating. Some people with celiac disease or severe allergies may even have to change roommates or arrange for a new uncontaminated place to live.
Here’s why. Even a tiny bit of gluten can be enough to cause severe symptoms for someone with celiac disease. So, for celiacs living with other folks not having the disease, everyone has to be willing to minimize the risk of cross-contamination with gluten-containing foods.
Cooks will want to:
– Wash down kitchen surfaces before use and avoid preparing gluten-y and gluten-free food at the same time in the same area
– Use separate condiments, butter, spreads, jellies, and jams to minimize gluten contamination from bread or toast crumbs
– Clean and store cooking utensils and cookware in contamination-preventing ways
– Invest in sealable bags and containers to keep gluten-free bread and other products separate from gluten-y ones
– Consider having separate pantries, cabinets, refrigerators, or freezers to prevent contamination in a shared kitchen, or even having separate kitchens altogether
Even people with gluten intolerance or others simply Living Gluten-Free because they want to, should be able to ask roommates to make at least some of these accommodations. It’s all about working things out over time so living arrangements suit everyone’s needs, interests, and tastes.
Living Gluten-Free means everyone under one roof embracing gluten-free living, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in big ones!