As I may have mentioned previously, my son lives in Japan. He and a friend occupy a four room apartment that is about 100 square feet larger than my two car garage. As a result, there is not a whole lot of space for him to store very much as far as personal items. That makes sending him and his girl friend any kind of gifts a real challenge.
What do you get a son in his 30s who has no room? He claims he has plenty of clothes. He can download almost anything he wants from his computer. There is no room in the apartment for much hobby equipment. What’s a gift giving mother to do? He’s never really been all that good at offering suggestions.
He finally decided what he wants for Christmas. Food! Of course it’s not just any food. He was diagnosed this summer after many years of intestional problems with celiac disease. That means he can’t eat any food product containing gluten. That means he can’t eat foods containing wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.
Celiac disease affects the small intestine. He has had problems with his abdomen for several years. He finally was able to find the root cause last summer when it got bad enough for him to seek medical help while he was instructing at summer school here in the states. It is not easy to detect this ailment because of a wide variety of digestion abdominal symptoms. It is an autoimmune disease. What surprised me is that it it is inherited. In doing this blog I looked up symtoms. There were several on the list that I have experienced for years and seem to be getting worse. Just to be on the safe side, in a couple of weeks when I go for my semi-annual check up I think I’ll discuss this fact with my doctor. I have enough on my plate with other things going wrong with this baby boomer model. Until I find out otherwise, I’m going to be doing a lot of affirmations that I am in perfect health. I guess I won’t ignore it completely because it says that it can lead to certain kinds of intestinal cancer. I certainly don’t want to go there.
Back to the gluten. It, like corn syrup, is found almost everywhere. Fortunately, there are gluten-free recipes and gluten free products becoming more available.
Gluten is hidden in many unsuspecting foods such as licorice, soy sauce, malt vinegar, some flavorings, most processed foods, self-basting turkeys, some cold cuts, and many prepared stocks and soups. Vinegars and alcohols that are properly distilled should not contain any harmful gluten. However, if additives have been added after the distillation process, they may contain gluten. Gluten is also used as a binder in some pharmaceutical products and can be the starch in unidentified food starch, modified food starch, caramel coloring, hydrolyzed plant or vegetable protein. It’s also important to avoid products where the ingredients are of questionable origin or are listed as simply “natural flavorings, flavor extracts, or spice extracts” as gluten may be used in processing them.
Imagine my surprise when my son told me that he cannot use Japanese soy sauce. There are other soy sauces available such as those from China.
Chinese soy sauce is primarily made from soybeans, however there usually is still some grain component……Japanese soy sauces are primarily made with wheat and some component of soy. Therefore, to be totally gluten free you will have to hunt down gluten free soy sauce – which does exist. Many people don’t know this and why should they….when you choose soy sauce…you would think that it is all soy, but no…………that would be too easy!
The list of foods containing glutin is too long to post here. Thankfully, there are now lists of foods that are glutin free. What is even more disconcerting is there is a long list of medications that contain glutin. Fortunately, there is an equally long list of vitamins and medications that are glutin-free.
There is one store in town which has, as a service to its clientele, created a glutin-free section of an aisle. That is where I went to purchase the pasta and soy sauce that he requested. I even grabbed a bag of chocolate cake mix. When I got home, I remembered he’s not that big a fan of cake. Next I had to go to Walmart to get the large bottles of OTC allergy and pain meds. Finally, I went to CVS to get his vitamins. I still have to get a big jar of French Vanilla Coffee Mate before I’m ready to deliver the presents. Nothing like running all over town to do my Christmas shopping!
It sure would be easier if he’d stopped his world wandering ways and come back home to America. Gift cards are SO much easier to send and I would no longer have to worry about Swiss francs or yen.
Hopefully, if you have problems with celiac disease, I’ve done a little research for you to help you on the way to a long, healthy life.
The disorder is most common in Caucasians and those of European ancestry. Women are affected more commonly than men. If you fit into that category and have been bothered with intestinal problems, maybe you should make an appointment to see your doctor as well. Oh, and if you like to drink, as my son does, he gave up beer which made me very happy. He now drinks rum!
Namaste. Attic Annie