I’ve been diagnosed a few months ago and I know that being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease can be overwhelming at first. It seems like gluten is in everything. But that’s not the case. There is so much out there that is naturally gluten free. The best advice I got after being diagnosed: focus on what is naturally gluten free and clean eating is the way to go.
Coeliac Disease can cause different health issues, some more serious than others and healing can take a long time. Clean eating helps with this and it also makes getting used to the gluten free lifestyle so much easier.
Gluten free food doesn’t have to be expensive, boring, bland or bad in any way. Gluten free food can be more expensive since the ingredients used are themselves more expensive. But since there is so much out there that is naturally gluten free there is no need to limit ourselves to gluten free substitutes.
I heard from many people they struggle to find food they like. I think one of the key things is cooking from scratch. That way there is no need to overspend on gluten free ingredients and there is no risk of cross contamination. It might seem time consuming and too much of an effort but it doesn’t have to be, there are versatile and easy meals that are tasty, easy to cook and aren’t expensive either. Also by cooking from scratch you can have total control over what you eat. It also makes having a balanced and varied diet easier.
Eating out is a bit more difficult. But there is a way around this too. Checking menus online and calling restaurants in advance helps with finding places that cater for us. More and more restaurants started to have a gluten free menu and have a better understanding of cross contamination which means more and more places are safe for us.
When you have Coeliac Disease label reading is your best friend and cross contamination is your worst enemy. Once you get used to it, it becomes much easier. And once you learn what to keep an eye out for you’ll find so many things that are not labelled as gluten free but are still safe for us.
Another issue is explaining it all to family and friends. Saying you have to eat gluten free isn’t always enough. I had to explain countless times that my disease means even the smallest amount of gluten causes damage that can later cause some serious health issues. I also had to explain how cross contamination works. It made a huge difference. Also explaining instead of expecting people to do their own research means that everyone learnt the do’s and don’ts.
Avoiding cross contamination can seem impossible or at least very difficult at the beginning but starting with the basics is, again, the way to go. If you live on your own it’s easy: clean out your toaster, make sure there are no “normal” breadcrumbs left in your butter and jams and your cupboard are cleaned out of anything containing gluten. If you share a house with other people, wether they are family or just housemates, it makes things a bit more difficult. First things first: you need to make sure everyone understands this is not a choice and although not everyone has the most obvious symptoms, the damage is still done. Again, the best way is to explain that there is no cure and even the smallest amount of gluten can make you ill. The easiest way is having your own toaster and everything that can end up having breadcrumbs in them.
There are a few myths few myths around, like teabags being sealed with gluten or cosmetics containing gluten being dangerous for people with CD. Most teabags are heat sealed and the bags themselves are made of banana hemp. Cross contamination can be an issue but that should be labelled on the packaging. As for cosmetics: as long as you don’t have an allergy you are fine. If you have CD you’ll only have a reaction if you ingest and digest gluten. Avoding lipsticks that contain gluten might be a good idea but current research suggests you can’t ingest enough gluten from your lipstick for it to cause an issue. Gluten does not get absorbed through the skin and does not enter the digestive tract unless it is ingested.
Being gluten free is a lifestyle and a learning process and the bottom line is: don’t let it take over your life. It might seem like a struggle but it doesn’t have to be.
Article Author: Emese Fayk