One of the more difficult things a family can go through is finding out that someone in the house has an allergy. No matter what the allergy may be, if the reaction that occurs is severe enough, you have to try to remove the offending substance from your life. If the substance happens to be wheat or gluten, you probably already know that this is a real challenge.

When my husband and I first found out that wheat and gluten were the most likely cause of many years of stomach issues, we were shocked. I had no idea how many people in the world actually had an allergy or an intolerance to wheat. But whine and complain as we did, we knew it was time to get rid of the wheat and see if it could help him feel better.

I was EXTREMELY lucky that I had a life-long friend who was married to a man with Celiac Disease. (I'm sure she did not feel quite as lucky about that…) When she found out that her husband and THREE of her four children also had the disease, she re-taught herself how to cook, and I was able to reap the rewards of all of her years of trial and error in the kitchen, trying out new recipes and finding gluten free products.

My other main source of researching gluten free ideas was the Internet. I couldn't live without the Internet, but since there is an overload of information available on any subject out there, I had to narrow it all down and use what I could to make living gluten free right for me and my family.

After researching and reading, I went into my kitchen and threw out everything that my husband ate that had wheat it. That was pretty much everything, to be honest!

I took a trip to my local health food store and was pleased to find that a large variety of gluten free products are available today. The down side was that these products are MUCH more expensive than regular store products, and many things that I bought were really just not very good in the taste department! This is where the trial and error begins as far as trying different brands and products that are gluten free. The bottom line is that many things are available, but just as many do not taste like the wheat version of what you are looking for. A good example of a food that never really tastes like the "real thing" is pizza! Gluten free pizzas use rice or other flours in their crusts, and some of them are CLOSE to what a regular pizza tastes like, but most come up a bit short in the flavor department and they are very expensive.

My solution was to re-learn how to cook or I knew I was going to go broke! Fortunately, there are tons of great cookbooks on the market today that offer many different ways to cook without wheat. Of course this brought me back to my earlier problem of having to re-stock my kitchen with gluten free flours, spices, breads, pasta, etc, but for the most part, cooking without wheat is just like regular cooking; once you get the basic ingredients in the house, the rest is pretty easy. I humbly suggest that you buy a lot of rice, by the way. It makes a great substitution for pasta in many dishes, and will help with those carb cravings that may occur when you take wheat out of your diet!

Dining out was the nest issue to tackle. Even though I work in a restaurant, I can tell you from experience that most establishments are not gluten-free friendly. In fact, most servers just stare at you blankly when you tell them you can't eat wheat. I have found that the solution to eating out on a gluten free diet is to be very aware of what you can and cannot have, and try to make menu items work for you. In place of pasta, many restaurants will substitute vegetables or potatoes as a side dish. Burgers can be ordered without buns, of course, but be aware that many restaurants use seasonings on steaks and burgers, so ask your server to check the ingredients of the grill seasonings for wheat, or just have them leave it off altogether. There are several restaurants today that offer gluten free menus, too. If you know you are dining out, call the restaurant or check the Web to see if a special menu is offered in advance.

To conclude, I will let you know that my family has survived for six years without wheat. It was very difficult at first, but now I know a lot of tricks and I also know where to find the products I need. It is a difficult lifestyle sometimes, but the end result is really worth it. Felling healthy again made my husband a whole lot happier, I can tell you that! Getting started was the hardest part.