When you have celiac disease or another gluten-related health issue, it is important to maximize the utility of the foods you eat and to use your gluten-free diet to heal your body. To the newly diagnosed, this may seem an unsurmountable challenge. In fact, the concerns I most often hear from readers just beginning a gluten-free lifestyle are: not being able to eat the foods they love anymore, not being able to participate in social events, and not being able celebrate birthdays with a simple, traditional slice of cake. While changes are required, the truth is that those living with celiac disease can do all of these things—without sacrifice!
If you’re just getting started on a gluten-free diet, a few basic tips will help you along:
Keep it natural.
It is tempting to get excited about all the new foods labeled gluten-free at the supermarket. Pre-packaged and processed foods contain lots of additives and other ingredients that may not contribute to healing. Particularly when you are newly diagnosed, avoid these products as much as possible and cook whole foods from scratch.This will aid your body in healing.
Opt for lean proteins.
Lean proteins without gluten-containing sauces, seasonings, and marinades are excellent choices to balance meals. This could be beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood, or eggs.
Go for gluten-free whole grains.
Gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, teff, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, and even certified gluten- free oats are great daily choices if you eat grains. You’ll want to make sure you’re buying “clean” (noncontaminated) gluten-free grains, which means no bulk-bin purchases and reading labels for potential cross-contamination evidence.
Always read labels.
The gluten proteins celiac individuals must avoid are in more than just wheat. Read labels carefully to be sure you’re avoiding other gluten-containing grains. This list is not an all-inclusive, but is useful:
- Barley (malt)
- Non-certified GF oats
Eat in season.
Fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables are not only naturally gluten-free, they are more affordable than their out-of-season counterparts. They also provide maximum nutritional benefit.
Self-advocate and let your voice be heard in non-familiar dining situations such as at restaurants. You can express your health issues in a positive way and help your server and the kitchen staff understand that you will become very ill if you ingest gluten.
In some situations, individuals may use the word “allergy” to help inform staff of the importance of their needs. While celiac disease and related health issues are not actually food allergies, sometimes this is easier for people to comprehend than “celiac” or “autoimmune disease.”