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Home | Blog | The Gluten-Free Family Life

The Gluten-Free Family Life
Elizabeth Carroll
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(clockwise from top left) Dave, Elizabeth, Peter, Elaine, and John.

August 1, 2012

Today, I'm pleased to welcome a new contributor Elizabeth Carroll to Twice a month, she'll share stories of gluten-free family life. Today, we get to meet her family.

Please welcome another Elizabeth to the site! 

Elizabeth (Barbone) 

Hello! I'm Elizabeth Carroll. Twice a month I'll be writing for about gluten-free family life---with feelings in mind. Not only is this my first column for, it's my first web column ever. I'm primarily a mom raising three children – and not yet a blogger, twitter user, or website owner. 

My husband's celiac disease diagnosis introduced our family to the gluten-free diet in 2004. At the time, our children were four and two years old. With his diagnosis, I started then what is still our practice today: a common gluten free dinner that we would all eat, together whenever possible. Not only did this save me the time of making multiple dinners, but it has taught everyone to try what is served, even if it may not be a favorite.    

Breakfast and lunch are more individual meals in our home, and everyone but my husband ate gluten during those meals. Then in late 2005, when my daughter was just three, she became quite sick with a gastrointestinal virus after eating gluten-containing Christmas cookie dough.    
Her illness may have triggered her celiac disease, but in any case, it caused us to have her tested. She was diagnosed and began her gluten-free diet.  That was the last batch of gluten-containing Christmas cookies I would make!

When my daughter started the gluten free diet, there was some grieving for both of us.  As an adult, my husband had understood his diagnosis and had been able to make dietary changes, though difficult, because he knew how healthy he was due to the gluten-free diet.  These things were harder for a child to understand.  My daughter was self-conscious about being different from her friends and did not want either of us express her dietary needs.  She felt sad when we passed the Goldfish crackers in the grocery store and I no longer purchased them.  

However, I stayed positive, and vowed that she would always have similarly delicious and fun foods. I planned to make replicas of her favorite gluten-containing foods.  I just needed some help in learning how.  Up until this point, I had not been challenged to try to bake treats that could compete in taste and appearance with store-bought desserts served at other homes.  My husband had been easy to please with naturally gluten-free treats like ice cream or hamburgers on gluten-free bread.  

I decided that my son and I would not go gluten free.  My husband and daughter would eat all gluten free foods.  As a family, we would have all gluten free dinners and gluten free treats and desserts, when we had them.  However, breakfasts and lunches would remain mixed, but equal.

This decision traced back to my own childhood.  When I was about ten years old, my mother drastically changed my family's typical 1970's diet.  After attending a nutrition class, she eliminated artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, most refined sugars, and white flours from our family's diet.  She believed the diet worked in improving my brother's behavior.  

I have memories of carob bunnies at Easter and strange bagged lunches that induced teasing in the lunchroom.  I also remember gorging on Oreo cookies, Doritos, and other foods, when offered them outside of my home.  So, in our mostly gluten free home, I did not want to deny the foods that provided some normalcy among other kids.  I vowed that my gluten free little girl would always have food that she considered just as good, if not better, than what her brother and friends ate.

So began our journey as a mostly gluten-free family. While many recipes and mixes worked out quite well, there were also a few bumps in the road.  Some early attempts used bean-based flours and tasted that way.  The first store-bought gluten free breads we bought were not worth the money so we started baking our own, breaking a hand-held mixer in the process!  

When I found Elizabeth Barbone's first cookbook, Gluten Free Baking, I was overjoyed!  In it were all of the very delicious baking recipes, including Christmas cookies, that I would make to create a very sweet gluten free home.  

Today, my baking is only gluten free.   And, it makes me so happy to know that my daughter, now almost ten, is not sad about her diet.

I look forward to writing this, and look forward to your feedback!      

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