Alice, a mother of 2 and the creator of Gluten Free Lebanon (catering) answers our questions.
"My love for baking and cooking started 4 years ago when both my children were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I love travelling and exploring different kinds of places."
1. How long have you been gluten free in your family? and how did going gluten free change your life?
About 4 years ago, my son was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease. It was very difficult at first; I had to do a lot of research. I bought new utensils, pots, pans,….equipment. Getting a new freezer and rearranging my kitchen to avoid cross contamination became a necessity. Bags of flour, semolina, and whole and crushed wheat had to go.
I spent hours in the supermarket reading labels over and over again. I still do.
We stopped going out for lunch on the weekends and we also stopped eating bread, pasta or anything gluten for a while.
2. Did you know of celiac disease/ gluten free diet prior to your children's diagnosis
Not much. I had heard of people with gluten intolerance but was not aware of Celiac Disease.
3. How did the idea of creating "gluten free Lebanon" take shape?
That’s an interesting question! The anxiety, anger and frustration I underwent made me a stronger person. Researching and speaking to doctors led me to understand a lot. Most parents complained that their children would cheat and still eat something gluten. Children feel deprived and hurt. I had to tempt my children with the food and dessert I make to stop the craving that they have.
By keeping our children on a strict diet, we are helping them feel better and to thrive, but we also have to work on their emotional state. Don’t forget we too have cravings!
So I decided to open this page to help mothers and others who are going through similar difficulties and to share my experience and learn from others.
Most mothers nowadays work, so baking and preparing new dishes everyday after they get home can be too stressful. Catering would be an option for the parents. What is more, the children would have a chance to try out new tempting, nourishing gluten free safe dishes.
4. How did your children feel about the idea of starting Gluten Free Lebanon? Supportive? Reluctant?
Actually they were really supportive and eager to meet and get to know people with the same health problems.
Meeting people with CD makes them feel as they are not alone in the world; others too have also experienced similar stressful periods as they did.
5. What is your favorite gluten free dish that you particularly proud of?
What I am proud of is that through hard work, I feel I have achieved admiration from my husband and children. I still remember the look on my children's faces when I prepared for each one of them a decorated gluten free birthday cake.
6. Is there a gluten free dish that is still a challenge to prepare?
Croissants are still a challenge. But I believe when there is a will there is a way!
7. Do you often face misconceptions from society about celiac and gluten free diet?
Most of the time, people think it’s an allergy that will go away within a couple of months. But one of the main misconceptions you encounter is that eating gluten from time to time is okay. It is critically important that they understand that eating any gluten brings them back to square one.
8. What would be your advice for fellow mums of celiac kids?
Listen to your children. They are hurt and angry. Explain why they should not cheat on their diet and teach them how to research and read labels. Most of all don’t tempt them by buying things they love but cannot eat, and provide a wide variety of meals and dessert.
9. Of all the countries you traveled to, which one did you find to be the best for gf needs?
Each and every country I have been to had different gluten free products to offer. In London, I found gf licorice, in Spain, gf pate and turron, in the USA I found gf ice cream cones, pretzel, spices and really good cheese corn puffs with no GMO….
10. For you and your family, what would make Lebanon a gluten free paradise?
For my kids, a gluten free paradise would be a place where people were aware of Celiac Disease and it's affect. It would be a place they could eat at birthdays and restaurants and not have to carry their food with them. They would not have to research every item before eating to check if cross contamination was a possibility. And last but not least, they would have a huge variety of goodies to choose from.
For us parents, I guess a gluten free paradise, would be a place we could stop being vigilant, relax and not worry about cross contamination.
Thank you Alice.
Image credit: Gluten Free Lebanon