LIVING AS A CELIAC
A GUIDE FOR THE NEWLY
By Tom Sawyer
• Helpful books
• Sources of information
• Places to contact
• How to enjoy eating again
TOM’S GLUTEN EXPERIENCE
Enjoy Eating Again!
I want to tell this story because like most Celiacs, the problems and uncertainty of the
gluten free diet are enormous. We do not know where to turn, who to ask, or just what to do and
most of all be able to determine what we can and cannot eat. This story and the information that
is included may help to shorten the time element of uncertainty.
The first signs of some problem began during my middle forties. Many strange and unusual
symptoms where occurring and visits to various medical offices and doctors failed to recognized
that the cause for these problems was gluten intolerance. As time went on, these symptoms
became worse and when my weight dropped more than 40 pounds there were still no answers.
Finally, after much testing at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale Arizona, my doctor informed me that I
was a Celiac. “A what?” was my reaction. I was informed that I must go on a gluten free diet.
Ok, no big deal, I will just not eat any “Glutens”, whatever they are. Little did I know what was
ahead for our family.
I left the clinic loaded down with pamphlets, booklets, and printed sheets containing
information on this gluten thing. I was told to go to the local health food store and purchase only
things that did not contain wheat, barley, oats, and rye. This was only the beginning of a long
trek to discover what could be eaten. In order to discover if these grains exists in a food product
we are told to read the label. This is excellent information, the only thing wrong is that you do
not have the slightest clue what most of the items listed on the label really are. Have you ever
heard of things like titanium dioxide, sodium nitrite, or starch? I thought starch was what my
grandmother put on grandpa’s shirts, I didn’t know that we ate it. Reading labels is very
important but first we must learn the names of the items listed on the labels. Once a person
learns these item names, we find out that almost everything on the grocery store shelves should
not be eaten. You are aware that bread, bakery items, and pasta are made with
wheat and therefore have gluten but what about sauces, dressing, prepared food
products, canned foods, soups, spices, and mixes. They all can contain gluten.
Label reading is your first offensive move toward enjoyable eating. This
ability will not happen overnight but is absolutely necessary. An excellent overall
source book is “Gluten Free Diet” by Shelley Case, BSc, RD. The book lists the
gluten free additives and ingredients to help read and understand label reading.
In addition, there are sections on allowed foods and foods to avoid, lists of gluten
free specialty foods, lists of gluten free companies, meals and snack
ideas, recipes, baking tips, and much more.
Learning to read labels will require some effort and will require memorizing of
ingredients that are and are not gluten free. Many items are now marked as gluten free.
Look For these items The rest, read the ingredients labels carefully. In the beginning, we contacted
manufactures on their toll free numbers and requested information on products.
This still is a good idea because you will find out information and will also make manufactures more
aware of the gluten problem.
While you are learning to read labels, you wonder what can you eat in the meantime? It
took me a number of years to learn some very important fundamental food issues. First of all,
newly diagnosed gluten intolerants are deprived of all the eating enjoyment that was available
throughout their life. Their goal at this point is not nutrition or well balanced diets. They want
something good to eat.
Our approach was find the food then balance the diet. The first foods that should appear
on your menus are FRESH FRUITS, VEGETABLES, MEATS, POULTRY, and SEA FOODS since these
items do not contain gluten. However, you must be very cautious of these items if they are
prepared or are ready to eat even if they are called fresh or frozen. Many times these items may
have seasoning, spices, or injections of flavoring that contain gluten. Until you become
proficient at label reading and learn the brand names of gluten free items, your best defense is
to stay with organic fresh food. Just remember, in the beginning do not use sauces, soups,
spices, and seasonings until label reading is automatic. You will be very surprised with all the
very tasty gluten free foods preparations that you will begin to make by baking, roasting, frying,
broiling, grilling these fresh items and using butter, onions, garlic, salt, and fresh ground pepper
You will be eating fairly well at this point but there are still numerous items that you miss
which include salad dressings, soups, sauces, and all types of canned, dry and prepared food
products. By now, your label reading will allow you to select many items to help fill in a few of
the void eating pleasures. You will find out that many things you try either fall apart, are gritty,
or taste terrible. There were many times that I felt that I would rather eat cardboard and I still
missed so many things like pizza, pancakes, waffles, cookies, cakes, sauces, gravies, etc.
We began to think that if we could not buy the food we like, maybe we should make it.
Thus, we started down this path. It did not take us long to find out why the commercial
prepared gluten free food was so bad. The reason was because the fundamental ingredient for
these food preparations is flour. If the flour tastes different or does not perform like regular
flour, the final product will not be successful.
We heard about new gluten free cookbooks and recipes that blended many flours and
produced results that were good. We bought eleven of these books and this was a giant step
forward since we began to prepare some very good selections. Four basic problems still existed.
First, a lot of recipes did not turn out well. Second, we still could not make the old family recipes that we favored. Third, there was a tremendous amount of time and effort required to prepare and blend the flours specified in the recipes. Fourth, an enormous amount of storage space was required for all the numerous bags of different flours. Honestly, at one time, we had 37 different bags that we were using for the food preparations. Our goal became obvious, we had to find a gluten-free flour to replace wheat flour. It had to taste like regular flour, it had to act like regular flour, it could not crumble or be gritty, and it had to be replaceable cup for cup in any cookbook recipe. A lot more effort was required than we had anticipated but after much mixing, blending, baking, the present blend of TOM SAWYER GLUTEN FREE ALL PURPOSE FLOUR emerged. This was the answer. We now could have all the items made from flour and they tasted like the old time foods. Review the options for a new Gluten Intolerant:
1) Prepare fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, poultry, and sea foods. Start with organic selections until you become aware of safe sources.
2) Obtain reading and educational literature and magazines to assist in your education of
the gluten problem.
3) Learn to read labels. This will provide many additional
items to add to your menus or use to improve preparations of
4) Join gluten free groups which will provide contact with
other Celiacs to help solve your problems.
5) Find a substitute gluten free flour to substitute for
regular wheat flour in all your food preparations. We
recommend TOM SAWYER GLUTEN FREE FLOUR.
www.glutenfreeflour.com for additional information.
Tom Sawyer Gluten Free Products
2155 West State Route 89A, Suite 106
Sedona, Arizona 86336
1 877 372 8800
Some additional helpful information you may want to visit online:
Clan Thompson Pocket Guides
What on Earth is a Celiac
The Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Living
Spiral bound pocket size guide book by
Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University
180 Fort Washington Avenue, Suite 956
New York, NY 10032
Phone (212) 305-5590
ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROVIDE CELIAC SUPPORT
Celiac Disease Foundation
13251 Ventura Blvd. #1
Studio City, CA 91604
Phone 818 990 2354
American Celiac Disease Alliance
Phone 703 622 3331
Gluten Intolerance Group
31214 124th Ave SE
Auburn, WA 98092
Phone 253 833 6655
Celiac Sprue Association
PO Box 31700
Omaha, NE 68131
Phone 877 CSA 4CSA
EATING OUT STILL REMAINS TO BE A PROBLEM
Most restaurants do not understand the gluten free requirements and even those that claim to have gluten free menus do not all have the food preparations under control. I am happy that some are really trying. When we dine out, I find it necessary to carry my own salad dressing or just use wine vinegar and oil. Order a grilled or broiled main entry, fresh vegetables that are steamed, stay away from any sauces, gravies, seasonings, coatings, and spices. Salt and with salads without seasonings, flavorings, and croutons. Breakfasts, eat fresh fruits (no dressings), fresh eggs, and potatoes without any seasonings. Ask to have all items prepared in a clean separate pan. Carry a copy of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide and dinning cards to help you with your dinning experiences.
Triumph’s Gluten Free Restaurant Guide and Dining Cards may be ordered on line www.triumphdining.com
MAGAZINES WITH EXCELLENT INFORMATION
Phone 800 324 8781
PO Box 2126
Northbrook, IL 60065
Phone 800 427-7887