Good day to you.  If you are like most people in the human population, you work for a living.  If you work for a living, then you are most likely eating at least one meal away from home at work.

What potential dilemmas could this pose for you, celiac, in the workplace?  As you may or may not imagine – many.  Personally, I see Ramen Noodle remnants on the counter and I cringe!  I see left-overs of a “1/2 sheet  birthday cake” from yesterday’s celebration sitting uncovered on the second shelf of the company refrigerator.  I see bagels and doughnuts brought in and left on the counter and/or eating tables in the lunchroom.  I see crumbs of  bread from the electric toaster on the counter.  Gluten abounds in the workplace is the bottom line.

That said,  how do you combat gluten in the workplace, celiac?  You certainly can’t ask others to be gluten-free on your behalf.  What can you do to protect your health in your workplace environment?  How do you combat gluten in the workplace and not be cross-contaminated?  This is the million-dollar question isn’t it?

Here are some tips:  Clean the counter-space you are about to use when preparing your meal.  Cleaning should also include the sink, the microwave, your eating table and other items your food might touch.  Yes, I know these recommendations may inconvenience you – but this is your Life.  If cleaning products are not available from your employer, please consider bringing your own cleaning products and storing them in your office or cubicle, if possible.  Also, consider storing your refrigerated items in one place in the refrigerator and “stake your claim” with your co-workers.  I often store my food in one of the pull-out drawers others rarely use.  Even better?  Get a “refrigerator buddy” who can help accommodate both of you and will store non-gluten items with you (even if they are not celiac) to help fill up that drawer, or storage space, with you.

With all that in mind, you should keep in mind the same principles of gluten-free in your workplace as you do in your home.  Here are some great and interesting resources for you:  http://glutendude.com/gluten/keeping-a-gluten-free-kitchen-in-a-gluten-filled-world/ via @GlutenDude (https://twitter.com/#!/GlutenDude); Gluten cross-contamination safety: http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/cookingglutenfree/a/crosscontaminat.htm.  Here’s another resource:  http://glutenfreehelp.info/autoimmune-disorders/living-gluten-free-avoiding-cross-contamination/ via @tinaturbin (https://twitter.com/#!/tinaturbin).

I wish you much luck in both the workplace and the home front on being gluten-free as a celiac.  I hope this blog will help you understand on how intricate our lives are with others with gluten and us surviving gluten-free.  The important tools you should take away with this blog is how you can take care of yourself, and be gluten-free.  After all, you are #1, and no one will think of you as you do.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free – and autoimmune disease awareness for March.

Peace be with you.