So You’ve Got Celiac Disease: What Now?

Getting a positive diagnosis of Celiac Disease can be both a blessing and a curse.  After months or even years of gastrointestinal upset, a diagnosis can put an end to unnecessary suffering.  A diagnosis also means following a strict gluten-free diet which can be quite difficult after years of eating without worry. For most celiacs, the immediate improvement that comes from eating gluten-free, makes sticking to a strict diet more than worth it.

As it is imperative to completely cut out gluten from your diet when you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I would recommend seeing a Registered Dietitian to find out which foods have gluten in them and how to maintain adequate nutrition,” said Lindsay Jang, a Registered Dietitian working in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Celiac Suffers need to be smart when they cut gluten from their diets, ensuring that food substitutions are made wisely.  Jang notes that nutrient deficiencies can come from improperly following a gluten free diet, making it very important to eat a balanced diet using available substitutes for products that contain gluten.

For many people, the hardest part of substituting can be trying to find an alternative source of food.  Jang says that cutting out pasta can be very hard for some celiac sufferers, however alternatives such as rice and quinoa pasta can be substituted.  Failing to follow a completely gluten free diet, can lead to permanent intestinal damage for people diagnosed with Celiac disease, but for individuals with a gluten sensitivity, they may not have the same the same symptoms or intestinal damage.

First being diagnosed with celiac disease can be daunting, but eating out at restaurants doesn’t always have to cause a tummy ache.  It is possible to avoid becoming ill while eating out by ensuring that you:

–       Ask for no sauce unless you can be guaranteed that it is gluten free

–       Choose rice or potatoes instead of pasta

–       Check the menu before you go to see if they have gluten sensitive options

“If there is not option listed, ask your server or ask to speak with someone in the kitchen to see if modifications can be made,” says Jang. “Make sure that the person you are asking understands what gluten is, and is careful to check sauces as well as the actual foods in the dish.”

Each person affected negatively by gluten experiences a different level of sensitivity.

“Some people would show reactions to [gluten in] their cosmetics (shampoo, etc),”  said Rich Ralph, Registered Holistic Nutritionist based in Vancouver.  “Others would react to air-borne wheat, such as at a pizza place.  For this reason, I caution anyone who is very sensitive from eating at pizza places where the possibility of cross contamination is high.”

Many servers are becoming more accustomed to accommodating gluten allergies and are becoming more knowledgeable on which dishes on the menu do not contain gluten.

A few options for restaurants offering gluten-sensitive options in Kamloops include Chopped Leaf, Earls, Milestones and Original Joes.

Please contact Diane Bloomfield – dibloomfield@hotmail.com to become a member of the Kamloops Celiac Association.  The cost of yearly membership helps to fund celiac research and all new members are provided with a copy of a New Members kit which includes a copy of “Canadian Celiac Association – Acceptability of Food & Food Ingredients for the Gluten Free Diet handbook”.  The cost of annual membership is $65.00 and a membership renewal is $50.00 annually.

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