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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Gluten-free challenge - day six

I'm nearly there now.

Only one day left of the gluten-free challenge.

In fact, I'm contemplating whether to stick the breadmaker on overnight tomorrow so I can have some lovely fresh bread for breakfast on Monday.

I must remember, though, that coeliacs don't get the option of returning to a diet of wheat-filled foods after seven days of fibre loaves and gluten-free pasta.

Today provided two dietry challenges - a festival and a party.

I was out and about in Workington today covering Paint the Town Red.

Having predicted the food offerings were likely to be mostly burger van/hog roast-type catering (something I wouldn't be keen to eat these days even if I wasn't on a gluten-free week) I took along a packed lunch.

I popped a fibre roll with cheese spread and ham, a slice of my homemade gluten-free banana and pecan loaf, some Glutafin crackers and a Glutafin digestive into my lunchbox along with some fresh fruit and carrot sticks with humous.

While I was in town I popped into Holland and Barrett for some teabags and spotted some reduced-price, gluten-free vegetable tortilla chips.

When I say reduced-price they were still £1, which I wouldn't normally contemplate paying for a bag of crisps, but as I was mid experiment I thought I might as well test them out - and I wasn't disappointed.

I was also pleased to see that the Costa stand in Curwen Park was stocking gluten-free cherry Bakewells and brownies (not that I had any).

All fine on the lunch front but what about tea?

This evening I had been invited to a friend's surprise birthday party.

Realising my gluten-free predicament, I contacted the party organisers in advance to check whether there would be suitable food for me to eat or whether I should bring my own.

A tad awkward, that. It's kind of like saying: "Thanks for inviting me to this party you were in no way obliged to hold. Now, what do you plan to feed me?"

Nobody was offended, though, and the head of party catering (not necessarily her official title but what I have chosen to call her) helpfully reeled off a list of the planned savoury options.

A baked potato would be fine, I thought, along with the salad and rice, but I ought to take along a fibre roll to compensate for the bread I couldn't eat.

I'd avoid the chilli to be on the safe side as I didn't know the fulle.0 list of ingredients.

I packed another slice of banana loaf and a digestive as well, as I guessed there would probably be something sweet, if only birthday cake, at the party.

I felt for coeliacs as I went to fill up my party plate from the savoury table.

There was pizza, which looked so nice but was out of bounds, and yummy looking sliced baguette, almost calling out my name.

I'd already had to forego the breadsticks people were stocking up on to keep them going while we hid awaiting the arrival of the guest of honour (people had grabbed them on the way past in case she took longer than expected).

The dessert table was equally - perhaps more - difficult.

There was the obvious birthday cake, along with cheesecake, profiteroles, cupcakes and maybe more gluten-filled treats I've blanked from my memory to save my disappointment at having to leave them at the table.

On the plus side, there was a delicious Eton mess so I had a small bowl of that alongside my banana and pecan loaf.

All the party food I could eat was delicious but I did feel a bit awkward sitting there, surrounded by food, fetching my lunchbox out of my bag and putting my own food on the plate.

What would people think?

Would the people who had made the food feel I was snubbing their offerings?

Would anyone be offended?

Would they just think I was an awkward cow who was ungrateful for what she was being offered?

In my case, perhaps I could have been dubbed awkward. After all, I have chosen to go gluten-free for a week and give people the hassle of trying to cater for my unnecessarily complex dietry "needs".

Coeliacs, though, have no choice.

With a lot of people in society not understanding their need to avoid any trace of gluten, there must be times when they're made to feel about two inches tall, or like they stick out like a sore thumb, because of the steps they have to take to ensure they can eat safely while out and about.

I only have one more day of the gluten-free challenge left; coeliacs have a lifetime.

By Sarah Nicholls
Published: May 19, 2012

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