A Reprieve From Real Life? Nope.

Prior to diabetes and celiac, we would frequently eat out – probably too frequently. This was a habit we picked up since moving to Oklahoma. In fact, since moving to Oklahoma, I have gained roughly 15 pounds. I’m sure some of those pounds are due to the convenience of delicious, yet unhealthily prepared, restaurant food.

After my son’s diabetes diagnosis we cut down on eating out. Not necessarily to be healthier, but because counting carbs to determine his insulin dosage is such a pain in the butt. Seriously. The aggravation of a restaurant not publishing their nutrition information cannot be fully understood until you have a diabetic in the family. But like many other dedicated dining-out families, we figured out a way to guesstimate carb counting and pushed through; thus continuing on our unhealthy journey.

Enter my daughter’s celiac diagnosis. Although Type 1 diabetes and celiac often go hand-in-hand, celiac disease and its required gluten-free lifestyle are a completely different ballgame than diabetes and carb-counting.  If diabetes were baseball, celiac would be ballet. If diabetes was an apple, celiac would be a Snickers. You get the point. Anyway, because finding restaurants that consistently offer reliable, REAL gluten-free entrees (like for real gluten-free; not just a menu that says “gluten-free”) is so difficult, we rarely eat out. So when we do eat out I savor every moment – because it is a real treat for me, as the family chef, to get to go out to eat and not have to cook and then clean the kitchen.

Begin rant…

My daughter’s favorite restaurant since her celiac diagnosis is Santa Fe Steakhouse. The first time we went there post-diagnosis we met with the manager (who is a fellow Celiac), she went over their GF menu with us, and ensured everything was prepared separately for E and it was a great experience. We’ve been back several times and never had any issues…until this past weekend.

The restaurant was super busy, which looking back, should have been a red flag for us. That tells me that the line cooks probably won’t have time to worry about keeping E’s food separate. But E had her heart set on Santa Fe, so we waited about 15 minutes to be seated and then I asked for their GF Menu (which they didn’t have printed). So after waiting about 20 minutes for the GF Menu, I went and asked for it at the front again (our server was running around – not great service) . The GF Menu never did come so we ordered what we knew to be gluten-free (which is risky and never a good idea), a plain hot dog and baked potato, which we explained cannot have a bun and cannot touch a bun.

So then we wait. And we wait some more. Probably 20 minutes or so later our server brings our food out and goes to set E’s plate in front of her and says, “I don’t know why they put a bun on this when I told them not to.” Now, why would he even bring the plate out like that? So my husband, who doesn’t like confrontation (bless his heart) says, “Um, she can’t have anything on that plate because it’s all been contaminated by the bun. So it will all have to go back.” So off our server goes with E’s plate. Her salad shows up with a side of ranch that I can neither confirm nor deny is gluten-free because I still haven’t received the @^% Gluten-Free Menu that I asked for 3 times already so I ask the server (again) for the menu so I can verify the dressing is GF. FINALLY some manager brings out the menu but drops it on the table and dashes away real quick (not giving me a chance to voice my concerns darnit) and I verify that the ranch dressing is in fact, NOT GLUTEN FREE.

Here’s a pic of E before we figured out that the ranch has gluten (pre-meltdown)…

E Pic.jpg

By now E is in tears, starving and just wants to leave. I’m tearing up because I’m mad. Hubbs is irritated but because he doesn’t like confrontation, he acts like everything is fine. Brother N has scarfed all his food down so he’s happy as a clam. Finally (hallelujah) E’s plate arrives and she and I get to eat. I’ve mostly lost my appetite so my shrimp goes to waste and my potatoes are cold (serves me right I guess).

I realize that having food allergies or a special request can be trying for a restaurant kitchen, and I truly appreciate when they accommodate my daughter’s needs. I recognize that working in food service can be a thankless job so I am sure to always be kind to my server and have even left notes for waiters/waitresses who I’ve felt have gone above and beyond what they had to.  But what really irked me was that after all was said and done, crappy service, messed up my daughter’s food, and the issues with the menu – when the waiter dropped of the ticket it was full price. I can think of several restaurants where I’ve had fewer issues but they’ve still comp’d something in order to make up for whatever it was that went wrong. They could have at least given E a free drink. Really, she is the one who sat there and ate peanuts forever….

So very long story short, just when I thought I’d get a reprieve from real life and enjoy pretending that we are “normal” again (our normal anyway) – NOPE. Thanks, Santa Fe. Your fan-base just decreased by 4.

End Rant.

 

Gluten – Come out, Come out, Wherever You Are!

It’s not often that I watch daytime television. Truth be told, most weekdays you will find me listening to an audio-book while I do something around my house. Side note –  I firmly believe audio-books and their accessibility for free through the library are one of the greatest inventions of late. However yesterday was a Federal holiday and my hubbs was home, so we sat like zombies channel surfing for a couple of hours. We stumbled across the show, “The Doctors,” which I have seen once or twice before. I’m not confirming nor denying that I’ve stopped and watched that show before solely because Travis Stork is easy on the eyes. Anyway, yesterday Dr. Hottie just so happened to say the words, “gluten-free” so of course my husband stopped channel surfing, we watched it, and I learned something besides the fact Dr. Hottie has a cute smile.

A producer on the show took a nifty, yet expensive, little device to several restaurants that offer gluten-free meals and tested them to determine if their claims of being “gluten-free” were valid.  Here’s a link to the actual article/clip: The Doctors Link. Of the many meals tested at 10 different restaurants, all tested positive for gluten except one. I can’t swear to it but I think there was a blurb at the bottom of the screen that said Pizza Hut was the exception.  It’s important to note that in order to be certified “gluten-free” an item doesn’t have to contain zero amounts of gluten (it is allowed up to 20 ppm), so we can’t really say that all of these restaurants “failed” this test. However, for someone like my daughter who has Celiac, it is concerning. When we take her out to our go-to places that offer gluten-free menus, we make it a point to tell our server that she has Celiac and can’t have ANY gluten or anything that has touched gluten, and we hope that the restaurant is honoring our request. But my daughter, like many other Celiacs, doesn’t always show symptoms when she’s been “glutened,” even though the gluten is damaging her insides – making this even more of a conundrum for us.

Another concern of mine is whether some in food service are even aware of what gluten is and where it hides. Not that I expect any of them to be an expert but here is an example of a recent conversation I had during a birthday celebration for my daughter’s teammate. It’s a huge place that offers food, bowling, an arcade, laser tag, etc. Obviously lots of kids (and parents) so I would think a lot of different food preferences and probably allergies:

Me: “Excuse me, my daughter can’t have the ice cream that all the kids at the party are having (cookie dough) because she has Celiac Disease. Do you know if you have any that are gluten-free?”

Employee: “I have no idea”

Me: “Um, if you’re not sure, I don’t mind looking at the ice cream containers myself to see if any of them don’t contain gluten.”

Employee: “Well…they’re all made from milk (because I wouldn’t know that ice cream is made from milk), so I’m sure they all have gluten.”

Me: Rolls eyes and bites the side of my cheek, “You know what, never mind, we’ll just run by Coldstone on our way home and get her something.”

Hideout

Translating – Not Just for Other Languages.

“E is not progressing in speech therapy, and if she doesn’t start making some progress, I’ll have no choice but to recommend she be dismissed from Speech.”

These are the words that I heard from my daughter’s speech therapist during our IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting this week.  The meeting was actually being held to discuss adding other “conditions” to her existing Speech IEP – Celiac Disease, anxiety, generalized conduct disorder, and 2 specific learning disabilities – and we didn’t even discuss Speech really at all, except for my questioning whether E’s new schedule would interfere with Speech Therapy. The therapist probably wouldn’t have even said anything if I hadn’t seen the comment written on my daughter’s IEP and asked what it meant. To paraphrase, she basically said that E is not putting forth much effort and her deficient sounds (S, SH, and Z) are still where they were when she started therapy years ago.

E is now 10-years-old and has been difficult to understand since she started talking. I’ve found myself “translating” for her really since she started talking, and was so looking forward to the day when I could not only be a true bystander during her conversations, but also see her self-confidence blossom. I know she feels somewhat self-conscious because of her speech issues and I can just see the frustration on her face when someone doesn’t understand what she is trying to tell them. With all the other issues she faces,  this is just one other thing that I wish my daughter didn’t have to deal with.

So what can I do? Well, I can continue to be her fiercest advocate and make sure that she gets the speech therapy she needs – whether it be through the school system or our medical insurance. I also have to put some of the responsibility on her; she has to work hard for this, even though it can be frustrating at times. But this is just one thing in a long list that  I will help my daughter with – because she’s a challenge, she’s unique, and mom’s always got her back.

Translate

Simple Gluten-Free 5-Ingredient Pesto Chicken Soup (Review)

I’m always on the lookout for simple, filling soups because if nothing else – I am a soup person. I found this recipe while looking through the gluten-free blogsphere, and you can find the original recipe here gimmesomeoven.com.  I did make a couple of substitutions for simplicity, but for the most part, I followed the recipe as directed. Here is the recipe, taken directly from the website:

snip-of-soup

  • For chicken stock I just used two 32 oz. boxes of Swanson Chicken Stock (and here is a caution – I use to buy the gluten-free College Inn Chicken Broth and the last time I went to use one out of my pantry, my husband noticed that the box now says it contains wheat! grr)
  • For chicken I was lazy and used two large cans of Swanson White Chicken Breast. If sodium is a concern you probably wouldn’t want to do this. I personally don’t care much for chicken but for some reason I don’t mind the canned stuff so much.
  • I used one can of Northern Beans, but if you prefer a “heartier” soup I would use two.
  • I used  this Classico Pesto, which I found near the spaghetti sauce in our commissary and is labeled gluten-free:

classico-pesto-gf

I served it with french bread for those who eaten gluten in my house and Schar’s Ciabatta bread for our celiac (warmed up and buttered). Here is what my soup turned out like (don’t mind the plastic bowl – I have a thing about preferring to eat out of plastic):

 My family, kids included, all loved the soup!  I don’t care for beans and even I really liked it. I was concerned that the amount of pesto might overpower the soup but it didn’t for me. However, some might prefer to decrease the amount of pesto a bit and then add to taste, just in case.

This is definitely going to be added to my menu rotation for cold days.

Thanks Gimme Some Oven for sharing such a simple, delicious soup recipe!

Valentine’s Day Challenges for a Diabetic and Celiac Parent

Certain holidays can be especially challenging when you are the parent of a child with diabetes or celiac disease, and this Valentine’s Day certainly falls into the “challenging” category for me. Each year I typically give my kids a few edible treats and include a cute little stuffed animal that has some sort of meaning. Well, enter my husband. Because we are moving in about 3 months and we have done a pretty thorough clean out of our house, he has nixed the idea of any stuffed items. He has a very valid point – most of the kids’ stuffed animals end up at Goodwill eventually, so it truly is a waste of money. So, no stuffed animals…

Something I took for granted prior to my daughter’s celiac diagnosis is how easy it was to buy candy for her. I know, of everything that I could complain about, am I seriously complaining about buying candy???  But it is really frustrating when E is so darn picky: although she loves Reese’s PB cups, and the traditional ones are gluten-free, sometimes the cute little holiday ones aren’t; she loves Gummy Bears but I’ve found that many of them aren’t really Gluten Free.  I got lucky that the Valentine’s tube filled with Reese’s that has the plastic heart on top is labeled “gluten-free;” but that luck came only after spending 15-20 minutes reading labels in the darn seasonal aisle at Wal-Mart. When choosing my son’s candy, I tried to choose candy that had a carb count that could be easily calculated for his Novolog ratio. For example, he is still in honeymoon and his ratio is only 1:23, so I tried to get something as close to 23 carbs for 1 serving to make it easier. So he ended up with a tube of Hershey’s Kisses, mostly because I was losing my mind and I know they are also GF.

Contrary to how it may sound, each child is only get one item of candy (because we don’t eat a lot of junk) and then something small – mostly because I am trying to make this like any other V-Day before their diagnoses. But my point is that these concerns are something that I, along with parents of those with other special diets, have to deal with every day, but ESPECIALLY on commercialized “holidays” when you want your kids to feel like every other kid. And don’t even get me started on the school parties…

Regardless of what you do and don’t do for your kids today, I hope you make them feel special!

-Jackie

 

 

About Me

So, this is me, or at least my likeness, (IF you add chubby cheeks and crazy naturally curly hair):

I’m Jackie and up until January of 2016, I, along with my husband and 2 kids, was living what most would consider a “normal” life: I worked at a great paying job, I traveled for work about once a month, spent money frivolously (see aforementioned great paying job), and my family dined out at least 2-3 times a week without a care in the world. Then reality struck – we found out that our 12-year-old son has Type 1 diabetes. I have a pretty extensive family history of Type 1, so this should not have been but a shock. But you could have knocked me over with a feather. This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen to me, and certainly not my kids…am I right? Well, it did and it was a wake up call for sure. So as my husband fought his denial and I listened to coworkers, friends and even family suggest that I just change his diet (if only it were that easy), I stressed about what to do next. How could I possibly travel to places as far away as Japan for work, while worrying about my son’s blood sugar and whether or not his father was handling things alright? I was torn. Well then reality slapped me right in the face again and basically made the decision for me – 2 months after my son’s Type 1 diagnosis we found out that our 9 year-old daughter has Celiac Disease. After meeting with her Pediatric Gastroenterologist and a dietitian, we of course learned that there is more to going gluten-free than just avoiding wheat, so that brings me to where I am at now:

I am a stay-at-home mom of 2 kids who is still learning the best way to raise my Celiac daughter to be gluten-free, consistently fighting with the school system to get my daughter the special education services she needs, waiting for my son to come out of the T1D “honeymoon”phase, and planning our next move with the military. People who know me are shocked to learn that I am truly an introvert so I decided to start blogging to give me an outlet – a place to share what I’m learning and hoping to share a little of my knowledge along the way.