Gluten Free Information
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an inherited, multi-system, autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1% of the population. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that 95% of this population remains undiagnosed. This is due to a lack of familiarity with modern diagnostic algorithms. Symptoms are varied, and include fatigue, gastrointestinal complaints, depression, weight loss or gain, anemia, learning disabilities, developmental delays in children and more. Left undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can result in complications including osteoporosis, infertility, other autoimmune diseases, permanent stunted growth, and malignancies. Untreated patients also have increased mortality and a decreased quality of life. The treatment for celiac disease is the implementation of a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture.
How can gluten affect the body?
People who cannot tolerate gluten can suffer from a wide variety of aliments including seizures, bloating, intestinal problems, compromised immune systems, depression, anxiety, ADHA, autism, adrenal exhaustion, thyroid problems just to name a few of the not so pleasant results.
Must-Do's for Newly Diagnosed Celiacs
If you’ve just been told that you or a family member has celiac disease, it’s likely your head is spinning with information overload and you’re in a daze of disbelief. We have listed a few things to do initially to help for a healthy start.
1. Understand Your Disease
Make a point to learn all you can about your condition. Read recently published books written by acknowledged experts and turn to websites run by national celiac organizations, noted celiac research centers and trusted publications.
2. Build a Medical Team
Consult with a doctor and nutritionist who specialize in celiac disease. We’re fortunate to have a number of celiac research and treatment centers located throughout the United States. If you’re not currently receiving specialized celiac care, consider seeking out the closest celiac center. A good nutritionist can answer your questions and get you off to a good start on the gluten-free diet.
3. Join a Support Group
Chances are there is a celiac support group within short driving distance from where you live or work. These groups offer a wealth of information, food samples, tips for local restaurants, physician recommendations, recipes and, of course, friendship and emotional support.
If your child is gluten free, a support group dedicated to kids and their families is a must. These groups organize meetings, parties, picnics, field trips and so much more. Plus, they are an invaluable source for kid-friendly activities and restaurants in your town, not to mention summer camps and food brands.
4. Check Your Pantry
This step includes cleaning or replacing the items in your kitchen where gluten contamination can occur: scratched pans, the toaster, your food mill and breadmaker, etc. Do the homework to truly understand cross contamination, gluten-containing ingredients and food labeling, so that your kitchen becomes a safe haven that you can rely on for tasty, uncontaminated foods.
5. Stock the Basics
Use this time as an opportunity to improve your overall diet by choosing simple, nutritious, unprocessed foods. Most whole foods are naturally gluten free. At the same time, buy some prepared items, like frozen pizzas, pasta, soups, and other favorite snacks–whatever you enjoyed eating before going gluten free. Having these on hand will keep you from feeling deprived and help you avoid the temptation to cheat.
6. Stay Loyal to Your Favorites
You’ll feel better once you figure out dining spots in your town that serve safe foods and your favorite foods. Develop a relationship with a small local eatery with an agreeable chef who’s willing to work with you. Find your favorite foods, including the staples such as Pizza, Breads, and Pasta and stay loyal to those companies. Become a repeat customer–give them every reason to want to service you.