If you suspect you might have celiac disease, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to do next to begin navigating a gluten-free lifestyle and managing symptoms. Although there is a steep learning curve that comes after diagnosis, it’s important to know that many people live happily with celiac disease, and it’s possible to enjoy the foods you love while maintaining a gluten-free diet.
Let’s discuss some basic information about celiac disease, its symptoms, and some ways you can begin to modify your diet after diagnosis. Plus, by the end, you’ll know when to start talking to your doctor about your symptoms.
It is believed that celiac disease affects around 1 in 100 people, but of that number, only about 30% of people who are projected to have celiac are properly diagnosed. This condition is hereditary, so if you have family members with celiac, it is likely you might have it as well. Put simply, celiac disease is an incredibly common autoimmune disease that affects one’s ability to eat gluten—which is found in foods such as wheat, rye, and barley.
When people with celiac consume foods with gluten, their body has an immune response that negatively affects the small intestine. The attack on the small intestine leads to long-term and short-term issues. In the short term, after eating gluten containing foods, you may feel nauseous, get bloated or have diarrhea, but if intake of gluten is not restricted over long-term, then you may also develop coronary artery disease or even small bowel cancers.
For those who think they might have celiac disease, the first step is as follows: don’t worry. There are many symptoms that come with celiac, and not everyone who has celiac disease presents the same way. Here are some symptoms that could appear in people with celiac disease:
– Pain in the abdomen.
– Feelings of depression or anxiety.
– Pain in joints.
– Itchy skin.
– No periods for menstruators.
– Ulcers in the mouth.
– Peripheral neuropathy.
– Weight loss.
– And more.
Seeing these symptoms can be anxiety-inducing. However, know that celiac disease is incredibly treatable. Most only have to implement a gluten-free diet, which sounds daunting, but in actuality, is very simple to achieve.
When you’re beginning to understand what celiac disease is, determining what foods fit into a gluten-free diet can be hard. Know that, by and large, you will want to exclude wheat: which means traditional pastas, bread, certain pastries, and other foods of the like. Even though these foods are commonly loved by many (and we’ll discuss how to replicate them later) there are so many delicious foods that are gluten-free. Foods like chips, meats and poultry, vegetables, rice, many candy bars and sweets, beans, dairy, and other foods are all gluten-free.
So, let’s say you’re craving a piece of bread, a cheesecake, some wings, or another food that has breading or other gluten ingredients in it. The great thing about cooking is that you can personalize your dishes so that they meet your dietary needs. In other words, people can make foods containing gluten in ways that remove gluten from them. Here are some examples:
With recipes like these, you can make bread without gluten. In this recipe, you simply utilize gluten-free ingredients like gluten-free flour, xanthan gum, gluten-free baking powder, yeast, olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, water, egg whites, and salt. Investing in gluten-free products is simple because they’re usually sold at your local grocery store.
Again, when you utilize ingredients like gluten-free flour and xanthan gum, you can create delicious foods that would otherwise have gluten in them. Take this cake recipe, for example, it is just as moist and delicious as traditional cakes, but it’s made without gluten.
Those with gluten allergies need to be especially aware when they’re going out to eat. Although it is certainly possible to eat at restaurants with celiac disease, you need to make sure you’re informing all waiters and cashiers about your allergy. Oftentimes, if you’re eating at a fast food restaurant, for example, the cashier can get you gluten-free food that’s cooked on a different grill or straight from the packaging. In restaurants, the waiter can communicate with the chefs about your dietary needs.
Even if the restaurant advertises that they have gluten-free food, it’s always important to confirm in person or over the phone that the food you’re ordering is gluten-free. Doing so will ensure you do not accidentally consume gluten and put your health and well-being at risk.
After reading this far, you likely have a good idea whether or not you have celiac disease. However, if you’re looking for more information about celiac, then this list of resources from Stanford Medical Center will help tremendously.
There are several instances in which you should talk to your doctor about celiac disease. As a disclaimer, if you feel like you need to talk to your doctor about possibly having celiac—by all means, do it. There is nothing stopping you from bringing it up with your doctor. You deserve peace of mind. However, medical advice typically recommends seeking medical help when you experience symptoms (such as those outlined above), ordering a blood test, receiving results indicating celiac disease, or having a family history of the condition. For more information about celiac and talking to your doctor about celiac, we have compiled this information.
Our team of experts can provide you with the care you need to manage your gastrointestinal health, no matter what sort of digestive issues you’re enduring. Whether you’re newly diagnosed with celiac disease, not yet diagnosed, or have known about your diagnosis for years, we can offer guidance on celiac disease and how to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be impossible to live with celiac disease; we’re here to support you as you are navigating a gluten-free lifestyle and managing symptoms. For more information about our services, contact us to schedule a consultation.