Food (in our case, gluten free food) is involved in all aspects of our lives. The google search engine lists three and a half million references to the gluten free diet. My mission is to make this information accessible to you but putting it into a useable package. When this article is complete, it will contain six chapters:
1. Committing to the Gluten Free Diet
2. Going Gluten Free (this chapter published 2/9/12)
3. The Gluten Free Diet 101 (published 2/16/12)
4. Thriving Gluten Free at Home
5. Thriving Gluten Free Away From Home
6. Thriving Gluten Free in Special Situations
chapter 2. GOING GLUTEN FREE
I retired on the first day I was eligible to do so. An as-yet-undiagnosed case of celiac disease was making it impossible for me to practice my profession and I realized that I had better quit while I still had some capacity to enjoy life. I was blind-sided by the diagnosis. I had never heard the term ‘celiac disease’ and my doctor seemed only slightly better informed. I mention this because everyone’s experience going gluten free is completely different. Mine is unusual because I had no time to think about it. I had not even eaten breakfast before the appointment. I was very hungry and wondered how I could get breakfast.
I wish that Chex cereals had been gluten free when I was first diagnosed. That seems to me like the simplest way to survive until you get more information on how to live gluten free. (Keep in mind that only certain flavors are gluten free.) The Outback Steakhouse is another lifeline for the newly diagnosed. They have a gluten free menu, excellent food, restaurants all over the country, and a wonderful reputation for serving the gluten free community.
Here are links to three articles that may help people during their first week gluten free:
The snack articles are essential. This is a very difficult time. Relaxation is essential. Newly diagnosed celiacs should not be over-concerned with a totally healthy diet. The important thing is to know that tasty food is available. Next week, we will talk about understanding the gluten free diet. How do we select foods? How do we keep from going broke? How do we maintain a well-balanced diet?
People new to the gluten free diet may be totally confused by the current controversy over the exact definition of the gluten free diet and who should be following it. My recommendation is that people who are new to the gluten free diet start with a very strict and conservative version of the diet for the simple reason that this will allow them to feel better sooner and that will encourage them to remain gluten free.
chapter 3: THE GLUTEN FREE DIET 101
I originally titled this this chapter “Understanding the Gluten Free Diet” and got absolutely nowhere trying to write it. ‘Understanding the gluten free diet’ is a lifelong project! The point right now is to give newcomers to gluten free the information they need to make decisions for themselves about their diet and their lives.
A good place to begin is by reading my article called “The Celiac Saga” which is a brief history of celiac disease and the way it has been treated in the past. That will give you a better understanding of the current situation and make what I am about to say easier to follow. This article includes a link to a video presentation by a lady who was diagnosed with celiac disease in the late thirties and survived for many years on a diet of bananas and rice, the preferred treatment at that time.
How times have changed!!!! When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1999, almost no one (including, I suspect, my doctor) knew very much about celiac disease. Gluten free food was very difficult to find, tasted like cardboard, and was horribly expensive. No one went gluten free unless there was absolutely no option.
Things have changed dramatically since that time. Doctors are more knowledgeable, almost everyone has at least heard of the gluten free diet, more gluten free products are available and they taste great! (It still takes time to get used to the different taste and texture, but it can be done.) Science has discovered that distilled liquids are OK for us, thus making vinegar and most alcoholic beverages acceptable. Support groups for people living gluten free are readily available. When I began this website in 2002, I was desperately searching to write about. Now I have TMI (too much information). I imagine that many of you have the same problem.
Perhaps the most perplexing change is that people are now ‘going gluten free’ for a wide variety of reasons that have nothing to do with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Some believe that it will make it easy for them to lose weight, improve their athletic skills, or make them part of the in-crowd. This website does not make a judgment about valid and invalid reasons for ‘going gluten free’. I provide information.
Before we continue, I would like to recommend four books that will help you find the information you are looking for. The link below each title will lead you to my review of the book and each review includes information about purchasing the book on-line:
The Gluten Free Bible (this is the most important book available for people living gf.)
Celiac Disease for Dummies (I love this series of books. We are not ‘dummies’, but we are people with lots of questions who need and deserve simply written but accurate answers)