Sunday, September 18, 2011

going glutenfree

Nene was diagnosed with celiac disease earlier this Spring, and a few weeks later we learned that her dad is celiac too. So, that's 2 out of 3 in our home (not counting the baby yet!), and we decided that the most practical solution is a glutenfree diet for all of us, celiac or not. That doesn't mean I don't eat gluten outside of our home (but mostly when I'm alone...), and I still eat regular bread at home, but only if it was sliced in the shop, to avoid crumbs in our kitchen.

Anne said in a comment when I wrote about this back in February that you can make fabulous cupcakes from glutenfree flour too, and we're gradually finding out that she's right. Most of the time anyway! BF has been to a a glutenfree baking class, where he was given a book of tried and tested glutefree recipes, which was a big relief of course.

But we're also in the process of trying to replace the flour in some of our own favorite recipes, the ones we're just not ready to let go. We tried my grandma's apple tart today, with glutenfree flour, and I was so happy when I saw it, because it looked perfect. It tasted nice too, but the texture was drier and more grainy than the original, which is quite typical for glutenfree baking, and I was a bit disappointed. For this first attempt we just replaced the wheat flour with glutenfree flour and also used a little less baking powder. Now that we know how that worked, we'll try it again later and tweak the recipe some more, by adding moisture. I just had another piece though, and was pleased to find that it tasted a lot better (less grainy) after a few hours in the fridge. Tomorrow I'll try my apple crumble recipe with glutenfree flour, and it will be interesting to compare the results. The apple crumble is based more on the fruit and less on the dough than the tart we made today, so I'm guessing it's a recipe that's better suited for a glutenfree version.

What else have I learnt these past months?

I'm beginning to realise that it's important that we teach Nene how to cook, as she'll be less able than others to rely on on processed food. Also, glutenfree bread can be very low in fibre and protein, so we need to learn more about nutrition and a balanced diet, and Nene needs to learn it too.

I have learnt that celiac disease is underdiagnosed, and sometimes hard to spot. If Nene hadn't been diagnosed, I'm sure we would never have found out about her father. His symptoms weren't typical (which apparently isn't unusual - what a paradox!), and celiac disease just wasn't on our radar.

Nene was complaining about stomach pains every day last fall. I searched the internet for info on children and stomach pains, and was left with the general impression that a kid's tummy pains usually stems from anxiety. We took her to the doctor anyway, expecting to find nothing. I guess the lesson learnt is to assume that she speaks the truth when she complains over pain.

I'm impressed with how well Nene deals with it. She doesn't complain, and there has been no tears. But after six months she said for the first time yesterday that she wished she wasn't celiac, because she really wanted a coronet ice cream cone, so I guess it's sinking in. I have noticed that she doesn't like it when her friends asks her questions about it, so I'm thinking she doesn't want to focus too much on what she can't have or what she can't change.

Someone told me that these kids will grow up a little bit wiser.

What else?

After six glutenfree months she looks healthier. She's gaining weight. It seems to me that her immune system is stronger, but I guess I could be imagining that. One issue remains though: She doesn't like to eat. I guess she associates food with pain, and we haven't quite found the way out of that problem yet. I used to believe in childrens' self-regulation and keeping meals peaceful and free from nagging, but we haven't been able to live by those ideals after she got sick. At the hospital we were advised that she will need to learn again what hungry and full feels like. And that we need to stop telling her how much to eat.

I'm sad for her, sad for the things she can't eat and for the practical problems she will have to face. I'm also grateful. Grateful that it was discovered. Grateful that it's a disease that allows her to be healthy as long as she keeps her diet, and doesn't require medication.


Anne said...

Glad to hear that Nene is doing better on a gf diet. In adults it can often take a year to really recover, so it's still early days for her, and learning to trust food again can be difficult.

If you want to make things moister, and to improve the protein content, try adding ground almonds.

But our current favourite is pear and chocolate cake:

170 g butter
170 g sugar
170 g gluten-free self-raising flour
3 eggs
1 generously rounded tablespoon cocoa powder
3-4 pears, peeled, cored and diced

Beat the first 5 ingredients together to make a batter, add the pear chunks.

Cook in a greased tin (I used a square 22cm tin) for about 30-40 min at 180C.

Unripe pears work perfectly well.

Holly said...

Just a note that it will get better and easier. Both my children have wheat, egg, nut and gluten allergies along with a few others. They know the results of eating foods and the way they make them feel. She'll find foods that she'll really enjoy. Parties were difficult, but we send along special items for them instead of the cake. All the best. Check out "The Gluten Free Girl" website. Very helpful.

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