I am a parent of a celiac child, but in 2008 my brother was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 40. At the time, he told me the diagnosis was a sense of relief for him; as he hoped the diet would ease some of the medical problems he’d had over the last several years. But in the months following his diagnosis, what he found was a tricky diet that he needed to actively deal with.
This short blog should help get you started with your transition to the gluten-free diet.
The Diet – What is it?
Gluten-Free diet is 100% elimination of wheat, barley (including malt), rye, and possibly oats*
*Oats by themselves are gluten-free, however many companies may cross contaminate just by growing and processing them with wheat. If you want to have oats, you must find guaranteed gluten-free oats.
Additives & ingredients: Some contain gluten, some do not. Take a look at this safe-ingredient list and the gluten-containing ingredient list, print them and bring them to the store with you when shopping. Eventually you will become familiar with the words and may only need to check the lists occasionally.
If you are going to a party, either check with your party host about the food being served, or bring a backup plan for dinner or snacks. It will ease your mind at this early stage.
Gluten-Free Foods You Can Find Anywhere
Get through the First Few Days – Corn, Rice, Cinnamon, Chocolate or Strawberry Chex; Gluten Free Bisquick (see General Mills’ Gluten Freely website with much more) eggs; fruit, vegetables, plain chicken breast, Cheetos (regular or baked); “Hamburger, chips & cheese”: Cooked ground beef put inside Tostitos Scoops and grated cheese melted on top; M & Ms; Laffy Taffy If you need to eat out (on a vacation or away from home) McDonald’s hamburger or cheeseburger (no bun) is an option. Also Wendy’s has a good selection on their gluten free menu. Just realize that once you go to any restaurant, you are counting on someone else to keep your food gluten-free, and that is a risk you are taking.
Office lunches/Going out for lunch:
It is a difficult situation to be in, your boss plans a lunch meeting and you cannot eat anything, or you don’t know what may be available for you. Here are suggestions for you to wade through those first few months.
- Team lunch? Call ahead to work out a possible menu item with a manager or chef. If they cannot accommodate, politely ask your team leader to change locations or don’t eat. While you may feel uncomfortable about telling your boss about your diet restrictions, he or she can’t choose a better restaurant if they don’t know.
- You be the instigator and choose the location for a lunch meeting that will easily suit your dietary needs
Both of these require you to do some legwork. Call around and find some gluten-free friendly places to keep in your “back pocket”. Burger, steak, seafood places may offer your best choices. The best people to ask for are the manager or the chef. Sometimes you can even choose what you will order that day so the chef can have it ready for you.
Accepting Change: Lifestyle and Attitude
As a mom of a celiac child since 2000, I have been to many support group meetings and conferences. From them, I have learned some adult celiacs really struggle with the gluten-free diet. During one conference I attended, many adult celiacs openly admitted to taking croutons off a salad or eating a contaminated hamburger patty, because the waitress accidentally gave it to them on a bun. This is a moment where you have control of your own destiny; a moment where you choose: the road to health (send back the flawed food) or continued sickness (eating contaminated food).
So how do you make that decision? Get educated! Take charge of your own future. By doing nothing, you’re choosing ‘continued sickness’. It is the easy way out. But you’ll also be missing out on a life filled with good health and happiness.
If you take the time to get educated and make the changes you need to your diet and your household, you will be rewarded with a life filled with good health. This diagnosis will most certainly be a shock to you, so give yourself some grieving time, but take small steps to make change for the better. There are support groups for celiacs across the country, please “google” one for your area. You may be surprised all that you find.
For information on New Celiac Diagnoses of Children, click here.