If you are newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, you probably have a lot of questions, concerns, fears and even some misconceptions about how to live gluten free:

  • What can I eat?
  • Will I ever be able to eat out?
  • How will I deal with parties?
  • What do I do if I have to travel?
  • What do I order at the bar?

The early stages of becoming gluten free can seem overwhelming, impossible even-but don’t lose hope! I speak from my own personal struggles when I say that one of the most important things to remember is how much healthier you will feel both mentally and physically when following a strict gluten free diet. It will get easier with time and you can start your journey off on the right foot by reading this!

Acceptance -Be Real About Your New Gluten Free Life

I’ve spoken a lot about Celiac diagnosis experiences with friends and strangers and one of the most common hurdles for everyone (including myself) was the need to be real about the diagnosis and the lifestyle changes it forces on you. From now on you will always have to read labels, plan ahead for meals and ask a million questions to avoid consuming gluten. You’ve just gotta come to terms with the fact that many of your favorite foods are no longer on the menu, not even a little bite! Your self control is your last line of defense and it needs to be rock solid- don’t succumb to that morning office donut or that slice of glutenous birthday cake.

The best thing to do is fight the urge to feel sorry for yourself and don’t take out your frustrations on those that can eat gluten. Take a moment to let yourself have that mental funeral, get over the shock of your diagnosis and keep it moving. This is your life, this is your body and the sooner you accept your reality the sooner you can get back to being HEALTHY!

Knowledge – What is Gluten & Where Can it be Found?

As an autoimmune disease, Celiac creates a condition in the body in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the protein called gluten when it is ingested. Essentially, for those with Celiac, when gluten is consumed it triggers an internal war within the body causing damage to the villi of the small intestine. Every time a person with Celiac disease eats gluten, it causes new damage to the villi. The good news is that the healing of your villi will begin as soon as a strictly gluten-free diet is followed.

If you can’’t eat gluten, beware of products that advertise themselves as “Wheat Free! While gluten free foods are naturally wheat free, a wheat free label doesn’’t necessarily mean gluten free. Remember that gluten can also be found in other wheat free foods. Some wheat free products that are made of gluten containing ingredients include: couscous, bulgur, einkorn, emmer, farro, semolina, durum, kamut, rye, barley, triticale spelt or malt (derived from barley). For a quick list of places gluten may be hiding, click here.

Stay Positive

With the challenges of maintaining a gluten free lifestyle and diet, there are definitely trying times when all you want to do is give up and have yourself a little pity party. Believe me, I’ve been through it all!

I’ve had the hangry tantrums…. you know when you’re out to dinner with friends and you just want to eat but there’s nothing on the menu that’s safe and you watch everyone around you devour delicious things while you swallow down your disappointment. I’ve had dreams about loaves of fresh baked bread, pizza and flaky croissants floating around me. I’ve gone on rants to friends and family about all the things I can’t have and been reminded by those very people about all those things when they forget and ask me what I’m allowed to eat. It’s enough to drive you mad!

The trick is, you have to fight the tendency to focus on what you can’t have and focus on the foods that are naturally gluten free. There’s no gluten in a beautiful sockeye salmon filet or a mouth watering steak on the grill, a roasted chicken, a juicy red jersey tomato, homemade guacamole, fresh salsa, a ripe piece of fruit or oven roasted vegetables…you get the idea. Soon you will start to see that so many of the foods you already love are gluten free.

Do Yourself a Favor and Learn to Cook Gluten Free

If you don’t love to cook, learn to love to cook. Eating great food that you prepared yourself and you know is gluten-free is your path to healing, not to mention the best way to avoid gluten contamination. Try not to view cooking as a chore or a hardship and more of a labor of love for your health then throw on that apron and move it into the kitchen.

Understand the Benefits of Sticking to Your Gluten Free Lifestyle

When you have Celiac or a gluten intolerance the benefit of following a gluten free diet is more than just the short term, “Hey my stomach doesn’t hurt anymore!” or “I’m not so bloated and lethargic” or “I don’t feel like I got hit by a truck every morning!” there are the long term benefits as well that include:

  • reduced risk of stomach cancer
  • increased energy
  • increased mental health
  • increased physical health

Learn about the Common Places Where Gluten Contamination Can Occur in Your Home:

  • Toaster
  • Cutting Boards
  • Cutting Utensils
  • Colanders
  • Double Dipping: peanut butter, jam, jelly, butter, mustard, mayo – you get the idea