When you have to be gluten free for medical reasons you just can't cheat. After sending in all my forms for the Academy that we were attending, I thought that food would not be an issue. So I just brought a few snacks with me for the 4 day adventure that we were embarking upon. But there was a glitch.
I head to dinner...it was a catered in picnic, I had a plain salad and HUGE baked potato. YUM! that I parked my car 5 miles away from our dorm on campus and one of the Headquarters staff members graciously took me in her own car in the pouring rain to the grocery store. A store that I was not familiar with and I rushed through and grabbed some lunchmeat and canned fruit, we had things to do that night and we needed to get back to the dorms. What I did not notice was that the lunchmeat package (though it seemed large) contained two servings of meat; the slices were thin but folded over in the package to make it look larger. So note to self, look at number of servings on package!
Day 2. Found hard boiled eggs and some fruit on the buffet that was away from anything containing gluten. Got in the lunch line early and got to the salad bar before it got too messy. Grabbed some veggies, black olives, and a slice of deli meat from my stash. Dinner grabbed a slice of deli meat from my stash. The Chef did tell me that everything was gluten free including some sort of a pasta dish with shrimp in it that night. The pasta looked too good to be true to be GF and he turned out to be wrong when I asked another worker, thankfully I did not eat any. Skipped dinner, but later in the night at the bowling alley I was able to buy a water and PayDay candy bar (It was the highest protein candy bar I could find).
Day 3. Chef tells me that the sausage links (but not the sausage patties, weird I know, why add gluten to sausage, they were Vegan so maybe that is why?) are GF...YIPPEE!! Boy hot food never tasted so good. I think it was Cheri that told me they had Udi's bagels up on the bread bar, they did, (no gluten free toaster for those with Celiac Disease...remember that 1/65th of a teaspon of gluten is enough to cause our small intestinal villi to die off, so skip the regular toaster.). I've never eaten an Udi's bagel before since they cost around $7.00+ for 4 bagels. That morning I had part of a cinnamon raisin one, I wrapped the other half in a napkin to take with me to put peanut butter on later for lunch. Felt like I was stealing until one of the other chaperones pointed out a sign that said "Take a snack for later." But sadly, the bagel did not hold up for lunch, it was hard as a rock and crumbled (yeah, gluten free is not like the real stuff).
We were having Papa Johns for lunch, but thought I better skip that not knowing about the lunch meat being GF or not and if they had changed gloves. So I thought I would pop into the dorm dinning room to see what was for lunch. I talked with the Chef and he tells me that I can have anything on the main buffet except the hotdog buns. YES! Hot fresh food...remember that sheer irony I mentioned in the previous blog post? The sheer irony of the gluten free green beans, mashed potatoes and turkey breast meal that was on the lunch buffet, the one day that was not included in my meal plan card...LOL. I have witnesses that can testify to my saying the night before this meal appeared on the buffet "I want something hot like green beans, mashed potatoes and turkey." Poof there it was! I'm thinking the Lord was trying to teach me grace and humility through all this.
Headquarters staff went above and beyond to get me fed, again one of them took me to the grocery store earlier in the day, I got more lunchmeat and more canned fruit. That night was the big banquet and awards night, they brought me Chipotle's rice and braised carnitas and it was so good!
Day 4. I had bacon and fruit.
So all in all I survived, thought I might have lost some weight, but some how I stayed the same, even with all the walking we did and water I drank. Yes, I could have cheated, gotten very ill...did I mention all that walking...lol...don't want to get ill from gluten when there are no restrooms nearby!!!
A few parting thoughts:
There is nothing more freaky than not having access to food you can eat, I know of all the things to have to worry about in the world, but it can freak you out!
Things might appear safe to eat, but are they? Scrambled eggs were offered pretty much every day, but I was told that they were not GF. So always ask, institutional food is not made the same way we cook at home; it's made to withstand heat and to not dry out on buffet lines. Think about times you have gotten sick eating scrambled eggs at IHOP or other chains, many add pancake batter to make fluffy omlets.
Even when you think all will be well with your trip, camp or other outing, always bring some foods that you can eat, because no matter how well things are planned out, glitches will occur. Glad I got to live through the glitches with a great group of people!