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Have you been diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance? Then going gluten-free is a must. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It’s used as an additive in many foods, including bread, pasta, sauces, and anything that regular wheat flour is used to make, such as cakes and cookies.
Avoiding gluten when you have Celiac disease is crucially important to your health. When you eat gluten, you damage your intestines. Consequently, this prevents your body from absorbing nutrients from your food. Even occasionally, eating gluten can cause damage and inflammation that can take days, weeks, or even months to recover from.
Here are some tips for making the transition to gluten-free with as little pain and frustration as possible.
- You don’t have to give up all grains. Rice, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, and quinoa are all gluten-free grains. Even oats are okay, but you’ll want to make sure they say gluten-free on the packaging. To put the gluten-free label on their food, a company is required to ensure that there is no possibility of cross-contamination from products with gluten.
- Talk to a dietician. You want to make sure that the things you’re losing by cutting out gluten foods, such as fiber from fiber-filled cereals, are made up in other foods. A dietician can also help you learn how to read food labels and catch the sneaky ways gluten is added to food.
- Vegetable Protein
We have learned to look for ‘modified food starch’. Usually made from corn and potatoes, it does sometimes contain gluten. We have had to cut out a variety of canned goods that we thought were otherwise safe to eat.
- Clean out your kitchen – Now! Don’t wait and definitely don’t eat through the food! Donate unopened food boxes to food kitchens and toss out anything that you can’t give away. Your health is not worth the damage that continuing to eat these foods will do.
As with many auto-immune diseases, Celiac disease doesn’t seem that bad at first. Over time, however, the damage to your digestive system becomes worse and worse leading to bigger problems. I have known more than one person who didn’t take their Celiac disease seriously. They got older and found themselves in the hospital suffering from painful Celiac-related ulcers and suffering from other nutrition-related issues from the intestinal mal-absorption.
You may also want to check your hair products, toothpaste, cosmetics, and medications, including a surprising number of supplements, for gluten.
- If you can’t cook from scratch because you don’t have time or energy, invest in a good meal program or even hire someone to prepare meals for you. Even if you hire a neighborhood teen to come over and chop up vegetables for you, clean eating is the best way to help your body heal up.
- Don’t despair! Gluten-free products have become much more mainstream. They’re even enjoyable to eat now. You CAN eat out at popular restaurants, and once you’ve explained your food needs, you can easily carry your food with you. Being diagnosed with Celiac disease isn’t the end of the world. You don’t have to give up good food; you have to learn how to adjust your diet and more carefully read labels.