Though the gluten-free diet has been in the spotlight in recent years, it is much more than a fleeting fad; it has become a new lifestyle for many people with CD. To learn more about implementing a gluten-free diet, we sat down with Rohanna Doylida, whose son Ben was diagnosed with CD as a toddler. Recently, she started her own business, The Gluten-Free Consultant, to inform and educate local families on ways to successfully adapt to a gluten-free lifestyle.
Rohanna often finds that the biggest surprise for people who have a family member recently diagnosed with CD is learning just how many food products contain gluten. “It can be a bit overwhelming to realize how many places gluten is hidden: soy sauce, soup mixes or bases, bulk bins at the grocery store,” she says. “It takes some time to relearn navigating the grocery store for safe, gluten-free options.” As a result, she teaches that it’s important to become familiar with all the sources of gluten and to be very precautious with all foods.
Another important part of dealing with CD, according to Rohanna, is recognizing and preventing cross-contamination. In the home, for instance, the simple act of mixing up cake batter can result in small flour particles landing on the counter, the mixer, and spatulas—meaning all of those things must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before any gluten-free food is prepared. The same precautions also apply when eating at a bakery or restaurant; just because many claim to have gluten-free products does not mean that they prepare them in a separate, gluten-free area.
Because she understands how valuable support and education can be, especially during the first few months of adapting to gluten intolerance, Rohanna is passionate about her work as a gluten-free consultant. One of the first recommendations she makes, to those who suspect that a loved one may have CD, is to encourage that person to continue eating a normal diet and schedule a medical test to detect a gluten intolerance. It’s especially important to keep gluten in your diet prior to the test so the diagnosis is accurate. If a gluten intolerance is, in fact, the problem, Rohanna is able to offer helpful advice, including how to handle family or holiday gatherings, how to plan meals for a vacation or trip, how to prepare daily lunches or snacks for a child to take to school, how to grocery shop for gluten-free products, and how to prepare gluten-free recipes at home.
For someone with CD, the benefits of switching to a gluten-free diet are drastic, as was the case with Rohanna’s son. “Ben had a number of different ailments and issues that all miraculously disappeared once he was gluten-free,” she says. “The usual symptoms cleared up, like the diarrhea and stomach pain, but he also stopped getting sinus infections and pneumonia. He hadn’t been able to speak before his diagnosis. Within a few weeks of being gluten-free, all of his speech problems were gone.”
Though the initial thought of switching to a gluten-free lifestyle may be overwhelming, the process is entirely doable. In fact, Rohanna likes to say that “things won’t be the same, but different can be even better.” As more people and food industry businesses become educated on the basics of gluten-free food preparation, it seems the outlook is very bright for those living the gluten-free life.
Local Area Gluten Free Stores
630-323-0135 | kramerfoods.com
Since 1953, Kramer Foods has supplied the western suburbs with quality foods from its deli, produce, and bakery departments for any occasion and any dietary concerns.
Standard Market on Ogden
333 E. Ogden Avenue, Westmont
630-366-7030 | standardmarket.com
Complete with the Farmer’s Market, Wine, Beer & Cheese Shop, Delicatessen, Bakery, Butcher Shop, Grill, and Fish Market, all of Standard Market’s departments provide gluten-free options no matter how picky the eater.
Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery
13 W. First Street, Hinsdale
630-908-7175 | sweetalis.com
The irresistible aromas spilling out of Sweet Ali’s Bakery doors are enough to make a person start a gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, or corn-free diet. Aside from its sweet and savory delectables, Sweet Ali’s even hosts special gluten-free events such as cooking classes, tastings, and guest speakers.
122 Ogden Avenue, Downers Grove
630-241-1662 | traderjoes.com
From Larabars to hot-out-of-the-oven Snickerdoodle cookies, Trader Joe’s has a wide selection of gluten-free products to accommodate anyone’s gluten intolerance dietary needs.
Whole Foods Market
500 E. Ogden Avenue, Hinsdale
630-986-8500 | wholefoodsmarket.com
Both the website and the Whole Foods experts at the store can provide dietary guidelines and information on celiac disease for anyone shopping specifically for a gluten-free diet.