If you have just been diagnosed with celiac disease and told you can no longer eat any food containing wheat, barley, rye, and most oats you may be wondering, “What do I do now?” Hopefully the following suggestions will help make your transition to a gluten-free lifestyle a bit easier.
Suggestion #1 Schedule an appointment with a dietitian knowledgeable in celiac disease. Please see the Newsletter home page at www.glutenfreedietitian.com and click on “Dietitians who specialize in celiac disease” for a state by state listing.
Suggestion #2 Find a local support group. Contact the national support groups and ask if they have a branch in your area. The groups and their phone numbers are:
Celiac Disease Foundation 818-990-2354
Celiac Sprue Association 877-272-4272
Gluten Intolerance Group 253-833-6655
Suggestion #3 Go to amazon.com or your local bookstore and purchase a general information book about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. I am partial to both The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Eating because I am the author but there are plenty of great books out there.
Suggestion #4 Go to the grocery store and buy some naturally gluten-free grain foods to tide you over until you can get to a natural foods store. Naturally gluten-free foods that most grocery stores carry include:
Rice crackers (they make a great snack with a little cheese)
Rice noodles (usually found in the Asian food section–use as you would any noodle product)
Rice cakes (they make a nice substitute for bread)
Taco shells (in addition to tacos, you can use the shells to hold just about any savory sandwich filling)
Corn tortillas (they can also be used as a substitute for bread)
Brown rice (plain)
Enriched white rice (plain)
Quinoa (cook just like you would rice)
Tortilla chips (plain)
Remember to always check labels to make sure these products are free of gluten-containing ingredients. If at all possible, it is best to choose varieties of these products that are labeled gluten free.
Suggestion #5 Take a trip to the natural foods store. If you are lucky enough to live close to a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s both of these stores have extensive gluten-free offerings. Some grocery stores, especially large ones also carry gluten-free products. Options include Shaw’s stores and Hy-Vee stores. Products generally carried by these stores include gluten-free noodles, breakfast cereals, baking mixes, flours, waffles, cookies, etc.
Suggestion #6 Go online to a “gluten-free superstore” such as www.glutenfreemall.com and familiarize yourself with the wide variety of options available. Two of my favorite brands are Enjoy Life Foods and Tinkyada pasta.
Suggestion #7 Clean out a cupboard for your gluten-free foods. This is more important than it may seem–you don’t want to get gluten-containing flour and crumbs in your gluten-free foods!
Suggestion #8 Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, or pour yourself a glass of wine. Take a deep breath and relax. This gluten-free thing really does get easier. It may seem overwhelming now but the learning curve is steep. You will have it all down before you know it. Really!