Celiac disease – Gluten free – Is this a life sentence or a happy discovery?

After discovering that you have celiac disease, you have two choices; think of illness as a life sentence or a brave new world. At first, it can be overwhelming. The title itself is harsh. Celiac disease, as if you had just become a leper from Stephen Donaldson’s novel, Lord Foul’s Bane, and you would no longer be considered “normal”. I doubt people will start paying your bills to keep you from having you come to their neighborhood, but people will start treating you differently depending on how you manage the disease.

As much as you will need to be hyper aware of the words, gluten-free, wheat-free, rye-free, oat-free, and barley-free. It may be a better idea not to mention them too early in your initial diagnosis, as it will definitely get you those looks you are trying to avoid.

So what is celiac disease or gluten intolerance and how will it affect your life?

Celiac disease is the body’s inability to convert proteins found in foods that contain wheat, barley, rye and oats. However, consensus is still not on whether oats are actually a problem or not. Most celiacs choose to exclude oats from their diets and celiac societies tend to recommend against consuming them as well. If you do this, you can substitute oatmeal porridge with rice cereal instead.

The four common ingredients; wheat, barley, rye and oats are found in most foods except for fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products which are generally free of added ingredients and this is where things are starting to get complicated.

Companies modify milk, butter, margarine, dairy products and many other products. Changes are made to make foods more appealing to consumers and not often to improve our diets. By modifying foods, they often add gluten into naturally gluten-free products. Stupid isn’t it? And this is where life for celiacs gets complicated. Try reading the ingredients on every packet, on every item, every time you shop and you’ll begin to understand what celiac disease has to go through.

Once you start to understand which products are gluten-free and which are not, the task of deciding what to eat becomes much easier. If you have the opportunity to spend time with a dietitian, do so. They are trained to deal with gluten intolerance and can design a diet that will include all the necessary food groups and help you get the vitamins and minerals you need to live a healthy, stress-free life again. .

Gluten intolerance or celiac disease is not a life sentence and the more you dig for information, the more you will find that there are many support groups to help you get back to normal life. Once you start following a gluten-free diet, the feeling of well-being itself will give you the energy to face the changes that will need to be made in your lifestyle.

Here is a link to the Celias Society in Australia to help you get started http://www.coeliacsociety.com.au/

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