The diagnosis of Celiac Disease , Gluten Intolerance / Sensitivity or Gluten Allergy may be a little overwhelming at first or even hugely overwhelming if you were like me and had a very wheat based diet. However, you are not alone and you will have lots of support. The good news is that science has identified our villain, which is gluten – a protein found in the grains wheat – rye – barley. The bad news or the challenge we face is trying to identify all the places it can be hidden. It has become much easier since the 2006 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was passed. This Act requires manufactures to clearly label if there is wheat in their products. However, this does not apply to rye or barley. In addition, a voluntary “gluten-free” labeling law is expected to go into effect soon.
You may ask yourself, as I did, just what is Celiac or gluten? Is it a foreign word? No! Is it a name of a distant planet? You rush to the Internet and search frantically to make sense of this new diagnosis. You repeatedly read... NO Wheat – NO Rye – NO Barley
It’s strange at first and then you think how hard could this be? Then you realize that means...
NO PIZZA – NO BEER – NO BREAD – NO COOKIES – NO CAKE
NO TO ALL YOUR FAVORITES!
IT'S NO – NO – NO!!!
Then the tears start to come or at least they did for me. I grew up on all these things; they were a part of every meal. How do I live a life without them? Then you may think of all the pain, the diarrhea, the weakness or whatever symptoms you may have. We’re all slightly different. Then you read these symptoms will most likely all go away. All this confusion and these mixed emotions are all very good and normal.
Think of it as a life style change. Haven’t you ever done that before? Like wanting to lose weight or wanting to take up a new hobby. Going back to college to get your degree or even starting a new job. All these things are life style changes. You did them right? So, you can do this too! It’s just a little more permanent, as it never goes away. I grew up with my Dad drilling this saying into my head “if there’s a will then there’s a way!” We can do anything we put our minds to. Just think of it as a new turn in your life and don’t look back.
Then read some more until you can’t read anymore. You need to learn there is so much more to living gluten-free then just avoiding these basic foods. Our food manufacturers put WHEAT in almost EVERYTHING! O.k. maybe I’m exaggerating but it’s pretty close to the truth. You need to learn all the additives, preservatives and everything else that is made with or from wheat, rye or barley. Take your time and create files you can reference later. I have a whole filing cabinet drawer just dedicated to celiac information.
Our lives are getting easier though. The food allergen law, mentioned above, requires companies to disclose if any of their products have wheat or a product that is derived from wheat. This is huge and makes our research much easier. However, rye and barley are not a part of that law. Thus, until FDA approves the gluten-free labeling law (hopefully later this year), you still need to read each label thoroughly and understand the ingredients.Begin by getting your diet to a very basic level and eat only pure all natural safe foods. As you learn about your condition and which foods are safe, you can add more to your portfolio of foods. However, add them slowly so you can always trace a reaction problem back to something you ate. Read more
information on The Diet!
You really should be thankful and thankful every day. This really is a huge blessing! A gluten-free lifestyle will put you on the path to health and most likely the damage (for celiac disease) will be reversed and, along with all of you who are gluten-intolerant or have gluten allergies, you will start to see your symptoms go away. You simply don’t eat anything with gluten (wheat, rye & barley). It’s going to take lots of inner strength to say NO to all the offers of food from your relatives and friends. They most likely won’t understand why you are saying no but there are serious consequences to compromising your new diet.
Life gets easier day-by-day, so as hard as this may seem today, it truly does get easier! The awareness campaign of the last several years is really starting to reap benefits now. The mainstream media is talking more about it and doctors are diagnosing more patients. Another big win is that large manufacturers like General Mills, Betty Crocker, etc. are all starting to produce some gluten-free products for us and others who basically had gluten-free products (e.g., potato chips) are starting to label them as gluten-free.
To help you get started on your journey, we have some key documents for you - [Getting Started].