Gluten containing breads with the NO symbol on top of them.

Ten First Steps for Living with Celiac Disease

  1. Accept that you have celiac disease. The first step towards managing a successful gluten-free diet is accepting that this is a necessity for you in order to live a long and healthy life. Having a positive attitude will make managing the diet much easier!
  2. Schedule an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist. As soon as you are diagnosed with celiac disease, you should ask your doctor for a dietitian or nutritionist referral. These professionals can help you learn the basics of a gluten-free diet and make suggestions to get your body healthy. Dietitians also receive hundreds of samples from food vendors, so they may have gluten-free items for you to sample.
  3. Learn which foods contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat, barley and rye, which means that most forms of bread, pasta and other baked goods found on grocery store shelves are off limits. You will also need to learn which grains are unsafe.
  4. Learn how to read food labels. It is important to always read the labels of prepared, canned, and packaged foods to be sure that no gluten has been added to them. Plain meat, poultry, fish, fruit, and vegetables are all naturally gluten-free, as are rice, potatoes, corn, and quinoa.
  5. Research gluten-free vendors. As more people are diagnosed with celiac disease, the gluten-free marketplace will continue to expand with better tasting products in more grocery stores. There are hundreds of gluten-free products available including breads, pizzas, pastas, cookies, cakes and crackers.
  6. Read gluten-free cookbooks and learn how to make your favorite recipes gluten-free. There are hundreds of cookbooks available that offer tasty gluten-free recipes. Go to your local bookstore to browse through the cookbook section. To find more fantastic cookbooks, visit the NFCA website at www.celiaccentral.org.
  7. Prevent cross-contamination at home by educating your family. Teach your family about the gluten-free diet. Learning to prevent cross-contamination is key to staying on track. This requires separating gluten-free products from other items in your pantry, as well as washing all cooking surfaces before preparing gluten-free foods. Remind your family not to share utensils, pots and pans, toasters, or other cooking items without thoroughly washing them beforehand. For example, take precautions not to dip a knife in peanut butter that has already touched a piece of bread.
  8. Attend local celiac support group meetings and Meet-Up Groups. Most cities in the United States have a celiac support group. Look up your local chapter and attend a meeting. Vendors send product samples to most meetings, so this is a great opportunity to taste gluten-free goodies. Also, Celiac Disease Meet-Up Groups are a new social phenomenon! In major cities, celiac patients have joined together to eat out at restaurants. You will meet people and learn which restaurants are celiac friendly.
  9. Schedule annual follow-up appointments with your doctor. To make sure your gluten-free diet is successful, schedule annual exams and take the celiac antibody test when directed by your doctor. If your blood test comes back normal, it will confirm that you are maintaining a completely gluten-free diet!
  10. Eat at restaurants. Ask questions, but don’t give up your social life! NFCA’s website, www.celiaccentral.org, has a directory of national restaurant chains and locations that have gluten-free menu options!

Additional resources:

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of Celiac Disease in order to gain a prompt and accurate diagnosis for those suffering, support the health and wellbeing of children and families with Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance and advance research by collaborating with thought leaders in the healthcare field. NFCA is the leading source for celiac information and conducts a rigorous nationally focused awareness campaign.

The NFCA website (CeliacCentral.org) offers free, comprehensive information and support materials for celiac patients, their families and health care professionals.

Milo graphic

Milo says….

The mailman came on our porch and I barked him a LOT! He always leaves when I bark him but Maizy said SSHHH! How will he know he has to leave unless I bark VERY LOUD? I don’t think she understands these dangerous mailmen.

2 thoughts on “Ten First Steps for Living with Celiac Disease

  1. I give restaurants at least two weeks notice. I’m told that a good chef loves the challenge of making something gluten free which tastes delicious as gluten items on their menu

    • That’s a good idea! I usually just ask the waiter if they have a gluten-free menu or know how to prepare a gluten-free meal. If they look clueless, I order something more safe like a salad. =)

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