I sometimes forget the initial feeling I had when I was first diagnosed as being celiac and having to start my new life on a gluten-free diet. The beginning is not easy by any means. You go through many different emotions, and for me my first one was happiness. Yes, HAPPINESS! I was so happy to finally know what was wrong, that the way I felt was not normal, and there was a solution. Immediately after my realization that there was an issue, I did go through the emotions of ‘How is my life going to change?’ and “Can I live like this?’, and many others that posed concern for daily living.
Something you need to learn right from the start is that ingredients will constantly be changing. Manufacturing processes can change at anytime due to meeting new customer demands or handling price increases in their ingredients. I still find myself using the Internet to search products or brands, because even though I ate a specific brand last year doesn’t mean I can this year. Some trustworthy sites to read up on are:
- Celiac.com – I particularly like the open forum where people just like you and me ask questions about products and live a gluten-free lifestyle
- The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
- Celiac Disease Foundation
- The company website (most websites are user-friendly and will have gluten related information posted. If not feel free to use the contact page to submit your questions. I rarely come across a company that doesn’t respond)
As a back-up procedure don’t be afraid to call the company directly. When shopping you can call the customer service number listed on the package to discuss with the company any gluten concerns you may have.
I do have a few more suggestions I would like to share upon first being diagnosed. I want to keep these simple so you can remember them, and hopefully incorporate at least one new idea into your lifestyle:
- Focus on what you CAN eat, not what you can’t eat
- Learn the grains you CAN eat: corn, rice, potato, tapioca, quinoa etc. You can find a full list of gluten-free grains here
- Learn that ‘gluten’ isn’t a grain itself, but encompasses multiple grains such as: rye, barley, malt, graham flour etc. You can find a full list gluten grains here
Sauces and dressings are main areas for hidden gluten. For example, soy sauce has wheat in it, but there are non-wheat variations like San-J. Given that salad dressings and seasonings harbor hidden gluten, grocery shopping is being made easier by the day, thanks to stores like Giant & Wegmans, who utilize a “G” or some other gluten free symbol.
In addition, as celiac disease and the gluten-free diet increase in popularity and gain publicity, gluten-free products are continually expanding both in terms of product and shelf space. Some products can be found in the ‘organic’ section (don’t confuse gluten-free with organic, they are different), whereas others are on the same shelf as their wheat version (think Betty Crocker and their cake mixes).
Always Read Labels. You must still read labels and I say this for two reasons. First, a product may be gluten-free but does not have a symbol. Second, a product may not be gluten free but the ingredient list doesn’t highlight gluten in the ingredients. Examples: Bubba burgers are gluten free but their packaging does not have a gluten-free symbol. Rice Krispies are not gluten free but the ingredient list doesn’t highlight the use of malt (unless you purchase the gluten-free Rice Krispies).
For more ways to handle the gluten-free diet click here