Gerri Magsam is adevoted and busy mother of five. What makes her life even busier is dealing with her daughter, Rose, who lives a gluten free life due to Celiac Disease. A few years ago when she found out her daughter’s life would have to change, she knew hers would drastically change as well. She has done everything she can to help her daughter get through everything and keep up with a gluten free lifestyle. She has learned along with her daughter what living gluten free (or helping someone live gluten free) really means.
Q: How did you and Rose find out your lives would have to change by her going gluten free?
A: “I found out my daughter needed to eat gluten free about three years ago. She had severe fatigue, had trouble concentrating, muscle spasms, but no stomach symptoms. After a whole year of tests for many things, an endocrinologist at CHOP tested her for Celiac Disease and it came out positive. We did not know at the time what that really meant or entailed, but we definitely have come a long way since then. When we found out though, I knew my life would have to change along with hers.”
Q: What specifically do you do to help her keep up with a gluten free diet?
A: “I do everything. The biggest thing is preparing her meals without gluten. If the family is eating a meal with gluten, I will make her something separate. I also shop for all of her food. I shop carefully, cook carefully, and try to buy her items that taste good! She has her own section of our pantry and freezer or gluten free foods. Also, I read the ingredient list on everything! Marinades, sauces, cereal, rices, etc. Even vitamins can contain gluten. I always make sure that everything is safe for her.”
Q: How do you deal with cross contamination of the food you cook?
A: “I try to cook mostly everything for everyone gluten free if I can. For example, we only use cornstarch now, no flour. If we are making sandwiches or pizza, we make hers first on clean surfaces. We never mix utensils. We even scrub our hands after handling crackers, bread, etc, before touching her food. And like I said earlier, she has her own section in the pantry so nothing mixes there.”
Q: What is the hardest part of cooking and shopping gluten free?
A: “The hardest part is finding and adapting foods and recipes that taste good. Many gluten free foods in the supermarket just taste awful! And, gluten free food is very expensive. For example, a very small loaf of bread is $6.00. A small box of cookies is $4.00 to $5.00. Everything about it is just hard but you learn where to shop and how to cook as you go along.”
Q: You have other non gluten free kids, how do you deal with keeping everything separate?
A: “It’s hard. We don’t buy Dunkin Donuts doughnuts anymore because she can’t have them and that is just mean to put them out there. There are some recipes that are gluten free that everyone likes, but to feed all of us gluten free would be too costly. So, many times, we have two dinners prepared.”
Q: Has cooking and shopping gluten free become easier throughout the years?
A: “Definitely. When we first found out, there was nothing out there. But every time I go to the supermarket there are more products to try. Restaurants are also becoming a lot better with their gluten free menus so that is a big plus as well. One thing that has not been getting better, however, is the taste of many gluten free premade products. A lot of cookies or cakes premade do not taste good at all. But there have been mixes (like Betty Crocker) created that I can make on my own which makes it a lot easier.”
When a person goes gluten free, it really does not only change his or her life, but everyone’s life around them. Rose and her mother Gerri are a perfect example of this. A mother’s love goes a long way, and it definitely shows here with how Gerri changed her life for her daughter’s sake.