It’s a bit of a funky term. Quirky even. Glutinous Maximus, but it is what I was going to call Kiss My Gluten Free. Well, almost.
Glutinous Maximus was a suggestion from a friend when we were trying to work out if we should take that first step and create this thing that is now Kiss My Gluten Free. I think you can see how we ended up with Kiss My Gluten Free from that.
Kiss My Gluten Free is a name that can be both positive and negative. “Kiss My” meaning to embrace and fully accept the gluten-free life or if you flip that, “Kiss My…” as in Sayōnara gluten!
Stepping in front of the camera
I’m not usually a person who likes to get in front of the camera, but it’s time to introduce myself and tell our story.
I’m Paula Brinsmead. The person behind Kiss My Gluten Free.
I’m not the coeliac. My daughter is. She was diagnosed by biopsy in October of 2012 with Coeliac Disease. She was 3.
I distinctly remember the immediate struggle understanding all that the diagnosis meant.
What is Coeliac Disease? What the hell is gluten? What does this mean in terms of food, and what food is safe? What does this mean long term for my daughter? Argh, my head was spinning!
There were so many more questions, and it would take a brief phone call from a friend to say – “It could be worse. You got this” before I would settle and begin to focus and find resources.
Time for action
My first action was to get in touch with a recommended dietician who, thank goodness, spent a bit of time breaking things down for me over the phone and helping me understand what I could prepare that was safe.
I also needed to know if I needed to convert the whole family to a gluten-free diet.
I began to research like a crazy woman and had a face to face consultation with my wonderful dietician. That’s where I received the best piece of advice, E.V.E.R.
One dish at a time, begin to convert the meals you cook regularly to a gluten-free version. Build up to have a gluten-free recipe bank of 14 recipes. That’s two weeks’ worth, and it will give you some breathing space to build on.
I started work on this straight away. It took time, a lot of time primarily to research substitute ingredients.
It was hard, though because a lot of gluten-free ingredients just don’t perform in the same way as their gluten wielding counterparts.
I got there in the end. Fourteen dishes. A thoroughly planned menu in advance
We didn’t move the entire family to a gluten-free diet. We did this so that if my son and husband need to be tested for Coeliac Disease in the future, they would be able to progress straight to biopsy if required and not have to introduce gluten into their diets before they could do it.
What’s the plan, Stan?
Our main meal each evening is gluten-free, and we run a mixed kitchen for all the other meals. Sure we do have a system to manage cross-contamination and a ‘red dot, green dot’ labelling system in the pantry to ensure no accidental glutenings but gluten is definitely present in our house.
I deliberately plan every meal and because gluten-free products are not the cheapest option (unless they are fruit, veg or unprocessed meat) we shop to a strict list each week. Our bank balance is still wilting under the extra pressure!
Another piece to the puzzle
My GP had me gene tested not long after my daughter’s diagnosis. My results indicated that I had a DQ7 gene that had been triggered (and not the DQ2 or DQ8 to indicate Coeliac Disease).
If you have never heard of the DQ7 gene, it is the half gene for the DQ8 gene. Our eternal wondering has always been about where my daughter’s coeliac disease originated. I suspect that my half gene found another half gene and made a full DQ8 gene. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but it seems logical enough.
From that point on, I was a medically diagnosed gluten intolerant as well as being dairy intolerant. (just for the double whammy!)
So in our house, the girls are gluten-free, and the boys are mainstream.
It wasn’t long before I started to get a sense that I needed to help others with Coeliac Disease or those with CD children.
I think it was a no-brainer that being a Geographic Information Specialist would mean the solution was always going to involve maps.
Just like anyone, ever, who was always researching safe places to eat, I found searching and wading through the multitude of comments on social networks and staring at food outlet websites an overwhelming activity. It is so draining and frustrating.
If I were the coeliac, it would make it a little easier to make choices, but as it’s not, guessing how a little person is feeling about a situation or ‘being there’ after an accidental glutening is nearly the hardest thing I’ve had to do. (aside from actually bringing the little people into this world that is).
To leap or not?
My initial concept evolved over a couple of years.
My ideas twisted and turned (sometimes inside out) resulting in what you see today.
It’s changed considerably from its original concept, but all the while, the core has remained the same:
“to provide an easy to use, trustworthy place for people to find safe places and products to eat.”
Understanding the risk and transparently showing it in our website is the next best thing to trust. Trust comes later for each person as they develop their relationship with a particular food outlet or product brand.
It does keep me very busy talking with the stores that sell gluten-free products, the manufacturers that make them and the various restaurants, take away joints, bakeries and cafes that are all candidates for content in Maps for Coeliacs or The Buyer’s Guide.
Being a candidate and making the grade are two completely different things!
So I do hope you enjoy Maps for Coeliacs and The Buyer’s Guide and know that it was born from having Coeliac Disease and Gluten Intolerance in my life – just like most of the people I hope will use it.
I look forward to telling you all about new products and places to make your dining experiences much more relaxed, tastier and so much more enjoyable.😊😍