Bread is like everything — everything that's deliciously wonderful in life. It pairs perfectly with wine and cheese. It's heavenly smothered with Nutella*. Fresh out of the oven and lathered in butter? We're drooling.
But what if your partner is ALLERGIC to bread? We're not talking about being hip and following the latest "gluten-free" diet craze. We're talking your man gets violently ill when he eats bread (or anything containing gluten).
Gluten intolerance — and Celiac Disease — is becoming more prevalent in the U.S. Some say this is due to contamination in the American food supply. It’s cross-contamination nation in American food processing factories.
Not to mention, wheat is used as a filler in most of our packaged snacks. "Enriched wheat flour" is the Mary of foods in the American food supply. We throw it in everything! Therein lies the problem for gluten intolerant folks. Wheat is everywhere. Gluten is everywhere.
At 6'2, my boyfriend is a big guy. His kryptonite is gluten. It's ill-rendering. Yet so delicious. He is constantly faced with a dilemma: try something 'gluten-y' and suffer the consequences or avoid it and feel great. Most of the time, he avoids it. I try to be as supportive as I can (despite my love for all things bread).
Here are 6 Tips for how to be a supportive girlfriend to a gluten-intolerant boyfriend:
1. Don't tempt him.
If your man is gluten intolerant, you might have to eat your sandwiches at the office (gasp!). To help make it easier on him to resist gluten, avoid munching on 'gluten-y' foods in front of him. If you live together, that could mean not stashing your sandwich bread in the cupboard or your Triscuits in the pantry. Think about how you would feel if you couldn't eat something and he was shoving it in your face.
2. Read and know your food labels.
This is tricky but oh-so-important. Food companies love to just sneak in a little gluten here and there.
The Celiac Disease Foundation calls 'em The Big 3: wheat, barley, rye. Look for wheat in breads, baked goods, soups, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressings and roux (a cooking base made from flour). Barley is found in malt, food coloring (specifically caramel coloring), soups, malt vinegar, brown rice syrup and beer. Rye is in — quite obviously — rye bread, rye beer and cereals. It's super important to read food labels so as not to 'gluten' your love!
3. Also, watch out when you're dining out!
Restaurants bread things without noting it on the menu. For instance, Shake Shack in NYC now breads their French fries, thereby rendering them NOT gluten-free. The menu calls them "fresh cut", which sounds like they're fresh cut and immediately dropped in the fryer. Not so.
When in doubt, ask! And if the person you're asking seems uncertain, like, "Oh … it should definitely be gluten-free." "Should" means "No" when someone is actually gluten intolerant or has Celiac Disease. Move on to somewhere where employees are certain their food is gluten-free.
Once you know the ingredients, spotting gluten will become second nature. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but Celiac.org has great resources.
4. Find the closest gluten-free bakery, and go there. Often.
Everyone loves a yummy slice 'o cake! With gluten-free's new trendy status, plenty of gluten-free bakeries are popping up. Find one near you, and go there. It will make you both happy to indulge in something seemingly sinful together.
(Or tequila, rum, vodka-up). Know what alcoholic bevys are OK for him to drink. My BF and I love wine. (Specifically red, but white is better in public because it doesn't stain your teeth, tongue and lips red). Just the two of you? Pucker those purple lips!
6. Love him even more!
Not only is your honey no longer suffering from debilitating stomach pain, but your waistline is slimmer from eating less bread! Yipee!
Plus, you two are pretty trendy since everybody's going gluten-free.
*Nutella is gluten-free!