Living in the same household as someone who is gluten free can seem like a challenge at first. Luckily with some attention to detail, planning ahead, and simple lifestyle changes it can be as easy as 123. Keeping your family healthy is so important and that’s why it’s necessary to take these steps to avoid making your loved one sick (even the tiniest particle of gluten can make someone with Celiac disease VERY sick)! Luckily there are steps you can take to live with someone who is gluten free while still indulging in your favourite gluten containing products.
Going gluten free was a big change for myself. Not only did my diet and lifestyle change, but it also impacted my partner a lot! When my partner, Jesse, found out I had to go gluten free he was even more upset than I was! He thought he was going to have to give up eating gluten as well, but fortunately there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of cross contamination within a household. If we can do it, you can do it too (I have faith)!
So here is my ultimate guide on how to live with someone who is gluten free and keep them healthy!
Step 1: Replace Items with the Gluten Free Version
First things first, replace all the items that you use occasionally while cooking with the gluten free version. By not even having the gluten containing product in your house, it is much less likely that it will accidentally end up in your dinner. So take a look through the ingredient list on some of your favourite cooking go-to’s and I guarantee you can find a new gluten free version to replace it with.
For example, Soy Sauce is a staple in most refrigerators, but contains wheat and is NOT safe for people on a gluten free diet. This can be replaced with a gluten free version such as Tamari or liquid aminos.
Some other sneaky products that can contain gluten are:
- Salad Dressing
- BBQ Sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Gravy Packets
- Beef Bouillon
If you are unsure what ingredients to look for, check out the Celiac Disease Foundation guide for help!
*If there are certain products you don’t want to throw away, make sure to label it so that everyone in the household knows it contains gluten! It is also a good idea to have a specific area in the fridge and pantry dedicated only to gluten free items.
Step 2: Don’t Share Spreads
There are many fridge staples that both you and your gluten free housemate will want to use at some point. These items are ones that we normally share and don’t even think twice about, like spreads. But sharing butter, margarine, peanut butter & jelly, or mayonnaise can come with the consequence of cross contamination.
For example: My partner wants to put some peanut butter on his toast. He dips his knife into the jar, spreads it onto his bread, and then re-dips the knife back into the jar for more peanut butter. Since the knife touched the bread and was put back into the jar of peanut butter, it is now contaminated with gluten and is unsafe for someone with Celiac Disease to consume. Depending on the amount of crumbs left in the jar, this could also affect someone with a gluten intolerance.
The best practice here is to have TWO of the same product. One used specifically for/on gluten free items. One only to be used on items containing gluten. This eliminates the possibility of cross contamination occurring in your spreads.
I always keep two containers of margarine in the fridge. One is labelled gluten free and is only used on gluten free items and for cooking. The other margarine is for Jesse and is used only on his products containing gluten, like bread and buns. Label the containers that are gluten free so that your gluten free loved one knows which is safe to use.
*If this isn’t an option for you, you must make sure you NEVER double dip in a jar if you are spreading something on gluten containing items, such as bread. Make sure you take a large enough dip with a clean utensil and avoid re-dipping as you will cross contaminate the item.
Step 3: Don’t Share Utensils
You must be cautious not to share when it comes to utensils too. I have previously caught my Partner cutting his own burger bun, then proceeding to cut my gluten free bun with the same knife. This will lead to cross contamination and make your loved one sick.
*Clean utensils must be used on all gluten free products when you live with someone who is gluten free.
Step 4: Have a Dedicated No Gluten Zone in the Kitchen
When living with someone who is gluten free, it is important to keep gluten as far away from them as possible! The best way to do this is by having a dedicated area of the kitchen or counter space that is only for gluten free products & cooking. This ensures no bread crumbs or other gluten particles end up on the counter and accidentally into a meal. You can even have dedicated gluten free cooking utensils in this area as well.
If you have a small kitchen, or this isn’t possible for you, make sure to keep the kitchen clean. If you are preparing an item containing gluten on the counter or a cutting board make sure to thoroughly clean it with soap and water afterwards! A dirty counter or cutting board can mean cross contaminating anything else that is prepared on that space.
*When washing kitchen items with gluten on them, use a specific cloth. The gluten protein can sometimes get stuck on the rag and accidentally be transferred to other dishes. Have one cloth for gluten and one that’s gluten free.
Step 5: Consider the Appliances You’re Using
It is important when cooking for someone who is gluten free to be mindful of the appliance you are using. If the appliance previously had gluten in it, cross contamination could occur.
For example: Do not put a gluten free pizza directly on an oven rack that has had a non-gluten free pizza on it previously. Instead, look into other options. You can use a baking sheet or aluminum foil to create a barrier. You could also buy a slow cooker or air fryer and dedicate it to gluten free items only.
*Some appliances shouldn’t be shared at all, such as toasters. Buying a separate one dedicated to gluten free items is the best choice.
Step 6: Do Your Research
When you live with someone who is gluten free, it is important to always be doing your research! There is a lot to consider when buying food, going out to eat, going travelling and preparing meals. The more you know, the more prepared you’ll be and are less likely to accidentally make your loved one sick. It takes some time and effort at first, but will soon become second nature.
The more you know about Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, the more you will be able to recognize situations where cross contamination might occur and how to avoid it within your household.
Step 7: Be Supportive
Last but not least, be supportive and patient with your loved one! They are going through a lifestyle change and need your support and effort to get through this. Stick to it and soon it will get easier I promise!
Plus with all the amazing gluten free products that exist, you may find yourself wanting to make the switch & eat gluten free too! The only way to truly be sure your loved one is staying away from gluten is to not bring it into your home!
Do you have any more tips and tricks for how to live with someone who is gluten free? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!