First, the good news.
Irritability. Depression. Stomach cramps. Flatulence. Rashes. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), there are nearly 300 symptoms of celiac disease (source article). However, for most celiacs, starting a 100% gluten-free diet should eliminate most, or possibly all, of those symptoms. I.E. You will start feeling better very soon!
Now, the (potentially) bad news.
Currently, there is only one way to treat celiac disease: 100% commitment to a gluten-free diet. You will need to avoid any items that contain even trace amounts of wheat, barley, rye, and related grains (wheat has many cousins). If that task seems insurmountable, take a deep breath and relax. This blog is designed to make living a healthy, gluten-free lifestyle doable every day. I know it seems overwhelming, maybe even impossible, but remember--it is worth it.
Not convinced? Check out my story to learn about my journey to gluten-free and what I learned along the way.
Want more information? Need a pep talk? Check out the content I provided for celiacs who are newly-strict and ready to dive back into the gluten-free lifestyle.
- Be diligent. Once you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's very important you eliminate gluten from your diet completely. This is also true if you are trying the gluten-free diet temporarily to decide if you should be gluten-free full-time. If there is a slight chance it has gluten in it, you should avoid it.
- Be patient. Even with extreme diligence, you may not notice an improvement in your health right away. For me, it took several months before all of my symptoms went away, and my digestion is still more sensitive than most people's. Try to stay positive, and remember that even a little improvement in the way you feel could be a sign that the diet is working.
- Splurge a little. Don't be afraid to splurge on more expensive gluten-free items once in a while. Staying gluten-free is hard, and can even be depressing at times. Having a more expensive treat once in a while can give you the emotional strength and self-discipline you need to stick with it.
- Always double-check. As the food industry as a whole gains awareness of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, more and more products are being clearly labeled "gluten-free" or "contains gluten." However, there are still plenty of exceptions. If you don't take the time to read product labels, you may miss out on something you can eat or inadvertently eat something containing gluten, a gastronomic tragedy either way.