Going Gluten Free

→Chapter 1: MAKING THE COMMITMENT

You’re going gluten free! You have decided (and/or accepted a professional’s decision) that you have celiac disease (or non-celiac gluten sensitivity) and will need to abstain from gluten for the remainder of your life. You will not be cutting down on gluten —  your goal is to avoid it completely. Good luck!  To begin with, here are some positive thoughts. You’ll need them!

🙂 Assuming that you have been diagnosed correctly, you will have no further expenses for medicine, doctor’s visits, or surgery. The relatively high cost of gluten free food is certainly a problem, but — all things considered — celiac disease is a relatively inexpensive disease.

🙂 If you adhere to the gluten free diet,  your symptoms will disappear in a relatively short time. Some experts argue that celiac should not be called a disease after the patient reaches the point where there are no symptoms!

🙂 You are free to use the term ‘gluten allergy’  even though it is not technically correct. That solves lots of problems. It reassures people that are not contagious. It sends a very specific message … “don’t feed me ~~~~~~~~.”

🙂 I remember receiving my bomb-shell diagnosis late in the afternoon. It was the first time I had ever heard the terms ‘celiac disease’ and ‘gluten free diet”. What would I eat for dinner? Would I ever be able to eat? I had never heard the words ‘gluten free’ before. My doctor (I suspect) knew little more than I did. He gave me a number to call at a hospital three hours drive from my home. All this happened on August 2, 1999. Things have changed for the better during that time. I’ll write more about that next week.

Chapter 2: SURVIVING THE FIRST WEEK

You will be in survival mode during your first gluten free week. You’ll certainly want to do a lot of reading about what the future has in store for you. You’ll want to do a lot of reading and thinking. I recommend these articles:

♦ “Quick Start Gluten Free Diet Guide” from the Gluten Intolerance Group. GIG is the largest and most powerful of several organizations representing the interests of people who live gluten free.

♦ “Ten Easy Steps to Starting a Gluten Free Diet“. These steps are far from easy, but they are important.

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♦ “Gluten Free Living“. Experiment with this website and subscribe to this magazine!

♦ “What to Eat on a Gluten free Diet — Week One“. This site is operated by an on-line cooking school.

I was in this situation in the summer of 1999. I had never heard the terms ‘gluten free’ or ‘celiac disease’. Very few people had. I was very ill. I had retired six months earlier on the first day I was eligible to do so. Everyone’s situation is different. I wanted to make that clear before I added a few personal suggestions.

→ Fill up on Chex cereal. Most of the flavors are gluten free, the packages are clearly marked, and the price is reasonable. That will give you a sense of normalcy. Don’t be concerned about a balanced diet. That will come later.

→ If you are filling up on cereal, you will drink more milk than you are used to. Consider dairy-free alternatives. Many people who can’t process gluten-filled food can’t handle dairy either. Click here for information about diry-free alternatives.

→ Find a gluten free/celiac support group. There are three major organizations that have local chapters. Click here for a state-by-state list.

→ Don’t try to eat in restaurants during this hectic first week. I’ll write about that topic next week (July 25).

→ Be very careful trying to get gluten free information from the internet. The links I have given you will help, but the term ‘gluten free’ can be really slippery. I’ll write about that two weeks from today. (August 1)