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Living On a Gluten-Free Diet

After being diagnosed with celiac disease, your doctor will advise you to start a gluten-free diet. This can be overwhelming, at first. But after getting to know your options, you will soon realize that going gluten-free is not as difficult as it used to be.  Many people feel better soon after transitioning to a diet free of gluten.

Symptoms will disappear, your intestines will heal and further problems will be prevented. To get to a point of good health and comfort on a gluten-free diet, it is often helpful to enlist the help and guidance of a dietitian.

Nutritional Balance Without Gluten

Going gluten-free involves eliminating wheat, rye and barley-based foods from your diet. Any food made with wheat flour is unacceptable. But potato, soy, corn, bean and rice flour are not problematic for someone with celiac disease.

There is no gluten in meat, fish, fruits, vegetables or rice, so there are no limitations in these types of foods. Today, there are a wide variety of foods and menu options for people who maintain a gluten-free lifestyle. These foods are available in both grocery stores and at restaurants. You will still be able to eat even pastas, pizza, bread and other baked foods, as they are now available in gluten-free form.

Remain Committed to Staying Gluten-Free

Even a small amount of gluten can damage the intestines of someone with celiac disease.

So it is very important that no gluten is consumed after starting the diet and that there are no “cheat days.” Once gluten has been consumed, the body will not normalize again for a period of weeks.  When starting a gluten-free diet, you have to pay close attention to meals eaten outside of your own kitchen, in particular. When dining at school, work, events or anyplace away from home, it can be easier to resort to whatever food is presented to you. But the ramifications of doing so are never worth the initial convenience.

Gluten-Free Restaurants and Travel

Luckily, restaurants are becoming more and more aware of how customers with special dietary needs can be accommodated. Many venues now offer clearly-identified menu items marked as “gluten free.” This is true in table service restaurants, at fast food venues, in pizza parlors and even airport food concessionaires. Because being gluten-free is now more widely accepted, dining out in the United States is much easier.  When traveling abroad, things can become a bit more difficult. But with the right preparation and a bit of self-education about local cuisine and language, gluten-free options can be found anywhere. There are also many travel aids available on the Internet for people who maintain a diet free of gluten. Regardless of where you live or go out to eat, it gets easier over time to abstain from gluten. Soon, identifying which foods may be safe and which are not healthy for you becomes second nature. If you struggle with your gluten-free lifestyle, some of the best resources are your doctor and a qualified dietitian.