If you are a newly diagnosed celiac or gluten intolerant and feeling overwhelmed, know two things: 1) You are not alone—there is an entire community out there eager to help and; 2) it will get easier with time. This posting provides practical tips and resources (outside of specific foods to eat/not eat advice) to surround yourself with the tools and support you need to live gluten free, healthfully and happily.
1) Consult with a Registered Dietitian – An RD can provide you with invaluable knowledge about reading labels and eating gluten-free healthfully. See someone with the registered dietitian (RD) credential, as RDs are considered the most trusted source of science-based nutrition information and are licensed through the American Dietetic Association. Either get a referral from a trusted source or find a registered dietitian with gluten-free expertise at www.eatright.org.
2) Educate yourself, quickly – the faster you educate yourself, the sooner you’ll be gluten free and living healthfully. There are so many good resources out there, but two that really get you up to speed on the basics are Gluten Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, a registered dietitian, and The Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Living, a pocket-sized resource by The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.
4) Get to know gluten-free-friendly restaurants – Start with your hometown hangouts. Visit with the owners/managers to get an idea of how much they know about and are willing to accommodate gluten-free diets. You’ll be surprised how accommodating they can be once they learn about the issue. For restaurant recommendations away from home, The Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) is a great resource.
5) Connect with the gluten-free community – it may seem hokey at first, but ask anyone and they will tell you this is the best way to gain access to the knowledge, resources and tools you will need to remain gluten free
- Become a member of a national organization, such as The Gluten Intolerance Group, The Celiac Disease Foundation and The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
- Join a local support group and/or listserve
- Raising Our Celiac Kids (R.O.C.K.) is for parents of celiac kids and addresses their particular issues.