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So You're a Glutard

Celiac Disease Tips and Tricks

A Glutard is someone who has been diagnosed with either a gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease.

So you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Now what? Well, first off, you need to know that there’s a huge difference between having a gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease. A gluten intolerance is when your body, simply put, does not process gluten very well. This can cause bloating, indigestion, and acne among other symptoms. Celiac’s, however, is an autoimmune disease. While some of the symptoms may overlap, Celiac’s can cause much greater damage later on if not taken care of. One major difference is the topic of cross-contamination. This is when gluten comes into contact with non-gluten food items and contaminates the food. This can occur with shared pans, fryers, utensils, cutting boards, etc. While someone who is just gluten intolerant can handle cross-contamination a bit more, someone with Celiac’s will have to be cautious and avoid it.

So how do you navigate your life once you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease? I will warn you, there is a bit of learning curve. But, since I have been diagnosed with full blown Celiac’s about a year ago, I have learned several tips and tricks. 

Ingredients & Food Items:

A big portion of gluten comes from the following foods:

  • Wheat (and derivatives of wheat)
  • Wheat starch
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • Any form of malt
  • Brewer’s yeast (beers)

Think: Breads, pastas, pastries, crackers, breadcrumbs, etc. Those are the easy ones to find. However, gluten can be in other things as well. Some examples of that are:

  • Soy sauce
  • Thick sauces (gravies)
  • Soups
  • Processed lunch meats

These guys are the ones you will have to watch out for. Often times gluten is used as a thickening and it can be difficult to assess whether or not something is truly “gluten-free.” Here’s a tip: When in doubt, you’re better off skipping it.

Tricks of the Trade

Alright, so now you’ve got an idea of what foods to look out for. But there are a few lifestyle changes you need to make once you get diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Here is what I have learned during the past year about living truly gluten free:

1. Change your kitchen and cookware.

Replace all your pots, pans, cooking utensils, measuring cups, and anything else you use that may have come into contact with gluten-filled items. If you live in a home with others who do NOT live gluten free, you should have your own set of kitchenware. Store it separately and make sure you’re the only one who uses it! I even went as far as having my own dish sponge and towel.

2. If you’re eating out, research ahead of time.

It’s always a good practice to start researching the restaurants you want to eat at. A lot of restaurants today have a specific gluten free menu that you can pick from. And often times the menus are online! This makes it easy to weed out places you can’t eat at.

3. There’s no gluten free menu! Help!

Take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay. Does the restaurant have options like: steamed veggies, steamed rice, fruit, side salads, or various sides to choose from? Great! There have been many occasions where I asked the server for a bunch of small sides and created my own dish. Plus! You get to customize it. Double win!

4. Beware of the fryer.

French fries should be safe right? Well, technically speaking, yes, since it’s just fried potato. However, some restaurants share fryers with other food items. Look at the menu. Do you see a lot of breaded items like fried chicken, onion rings, or mozzarella sticks? If you do, ask the server if they share a fryer. If yes, you’re going to want to avoid the fries. Sorry.

5. When in doubt, ask.

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I was terrified of asking questions because I didn’t want to be “that person”. So I would quietly eat ice berg lettuce and tomatoes instead. Eating out was stressful and I hated it. However, many restaurants have gluten free options that they may not explicitly list as “gluten free”. But how are you supposed to know that if you don’t ask? And never be afraid to tell your server that you cannot eat gluten. This is your health and you should never have to feel ashamed or embarrassed about wanting to take care of yourself.

6. Always read the label.

Just because you’re at home and in your “safe zone” doesn’t mean you can always let your guard down. If you’re trying a new food item at home (especially if it’s pre-packaged) read the ingredients list on the back. And if you are ever unsure if an ingredient listed is gluten free, look it up on the internet. Better safe than sorry!

It's okay. Being a Glutard isn't that bad...

Well, there you have it folks! A quick rundown on being a recently diagnosed Celiac. Like I said before, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to navigating food in the “real world”. But I promise you, you’ll get the hang of it. There are so many options for you out there and you will feel so much better once you live gluten free. Just remember: This is your health and you are in control.

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