How to Safely Share Your Kitchen with Gluten-Eating Family Members

If you have Celiac disease or another form of gluten sensitivity, you know that you must adhere to a gluten-free diet. In order to stay healthy,Butter and bread you also need to avoid cross-contact between gluten-free foods and foods that contain gluten (ie. foods made with wheat, barely, or rye ingredients).  When other family members are still eating foods that contain gluten, this can be a bit of a challenge.

My family has a number of food allergies, food sensitivities, and autoimmune conditions that are triggered by a number of different foods. Some foods, like peanuts and tree nuts, are banned from ever entering the house because the risk for anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can result in death) is just too high. Other allergens are allowed in the house, as long as everyone follows safe-food handling practices to prevent cross-contact.

Most of my family is gluten-free but my husband still likes to eat gluten-containing foods like bread and pizza. We have definitely had to implement a few safeguards to keep the rest of the family healthy.

Here are my top 7 tips to safely share your kitchen with your gluten-eating family members.

1) Get a new toaster.

The girls and I don’t eat any bread at all but if you plan on eating toasted gluten-free bread, you will need to get a new toaster that is used exclusively for breads that do not contain gluten. Toasters usually house so many bread crumbs that it’s impossible to clean them out completely. If you don’t have room for a second toaster or just don’t feel like buying a second one, you can also use a toaster oven. Just be sure to clean it out between uses. Another option is to stick with toasting your bread on a pan in your oven. Hey, it has worked for many years.

2) Use the barrier method.

A few months ago, my husband brought home a gluten-containing take-and-bake pizza. He wanted the crust to be extra crispy so he baked it directly on the upper rack of the oven (unbeknownst to me). The next day, as I was putting a whole chicken in the oven to roast, I noticed  hundreds of little crumbs dangling over our dinner. Needless to say, that was not good.

Avoid cooking gluten-containing foods directly on the rack of your oven or grill. Instead, use a barrier like a pan or foil. If you have double ovens, you could even designate specific areas as gluten-free.

3) Be stingy about sharing your food.

Some foods are best not shared with gluten-eating folks. Anything that may be spread or placed on bread is at risk for cross-contact with gluten. Get separate condiments such as mustard, relish, sauerkraut, jam, jelly, and any types of butter.

4) Use separate tools and utensils for gluten-containing foods.

We limit how much gluten-containing food we prepare in our home.  I am not a big fan of baking with gluten-containing flours like, wheat, barley, or rye flours because most of my family can’t eat them and because it’s just so messy. Flour particles tend to float all over the kitchen, which isn’t good if you’re trying to avoid cross-contact, ingestion, and inhalation.

If you do choose to allow baking in your home, you may consider two sets of utensils, sifters, cutting boards, and even mixers. Mixers are often covered in flour particles. If two sets of everything isn’t practical, just be sure to clean everything very well between batches.

5) Prepare gluten-free food first.

As I mentioned above, cooking can be very messy.  You can reduce the risk of cross-contact by preparing gluten-free foods first with fresh, clean tools and utensils.

6) Clean up well.

You want to clean your work surfaces frequently throughout your prep and do not let spills and splatters linger. You will also want to practice good hygiene when cooking. Wear an apron when cooking with gluten-containing foods and remove it and throw it in the washer when you’re done. Make sure that everyone is in the habit of washing their hands before and after handling or eating foods to reduce cross-contact.

7) Practice good communication.

Make sure that everyone understands the rules and why they are important to keeping everyone safe. Involve your family in figuring out what practices will work for you and how you will implement them. This is a great way to get everyone on-board and foster support. You also need to make sure that everyone knows which foods are safe for everyone and which ones are not.  If you need to label things, go for it. Good communication is key.

What practices do you have in your home to reduce your exposure to gluten? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Need help getting your kitchen organized and gluten-free or need to figure out a way to share your kitchen with gluten-eating peeps? Shoot me a note, I’d love to help.


About Tiffany deSilva

Hi I'm Tiffany deSilva, MSW, CPC, CHC, Founder of BrightFire Living, LLC. I am a social worker, speaker, author, certified health, wellness and lifestyle coach, certified green living coach and toxic-free consultant. I am passionate about helping women like you to detox each area of your life, safeguard your family's health, and live life fully charged and completely lit up! I am on a mission to empower women and families who are managing food allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other modern chronic health conditions to live a safe, happy, and healthy life that truly lights your fire!

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