3. Learn to read food labels.
Food labels are confusing and allergy information can be hard to find. I only trust brands of snacks, baking ingredients and meals that say “gluten-free” on the label. Even with gluten-free labeled food, I check the back of every package for words like “manufactured in a facility with wheat,” or “processed in a facility with gluten containing products.” If anything is listed about cross-contamination, I won’t eat it. Some celiacs find no issue with small amounts of gluten, but I’ve never been that lucky. I also don’t want to further damage my intestines or nerves by consuming gluten, no matter how good or convenient it may be.
4. Don’t give up.
It may take a long time being strictly gluten-free before you start seeing results. For some celiacs, myself included, being gluten-free is not enough to manage symptoms. I saw drastic changes immediately by eliminating gluten, but I still had lots of symptoms that didn’t go away completely. I had to experiment with eliminating other gut-irritants from my lifestyle and diet before I found complete relief from some things.
5. Connect with other spoonies.
Though not many people talk about it, especially doctors, celiac disease really is a chronic illness. Even with all of the lifestyle changes, we will still experience flares and other autoimmune symptoms and conditions. Many of us have to live with the lasting damages that gluten has caused to our bodies.
It is so important to have a support group full of people who understand what you are going through. There are many celiac specific support groups on Facebook, or you could join another spoonie community online.
I really hope these tips will help you, encourage you and support you in your newly diagnosed journey. Having celiac disease is no fun, but it is not a death sentence. You will find new foods that you love, and your belly will be forever grateful. You will learn to cook, become a food label expert and make lots of new friends online. You will have ups and downs, but there will be people supporting you through it all. I’m cheering for you, friend!