Gluten: It’s a protein found in several types of grains and many types of prepared foods, and it can feel
like it’s everywhere! Restaurants, social gatherings, family dinners, fast foods, your own kitchen…the
opportunity for gluten to make an appearance in meals and snacks can seem endless. For those
managing celiac disease or other gluten related sensitivities, finding options may take a consistent
effort, but does not mean foods don’t get to be just as enjoyable, social, and fun!
Living a gluten free lifestyle can help with the physical discomfort associated with gluten sensitivities.
For those diagnosed with celiac disease, a strict gluten free diet is imperative to reduce the immune
response causing damage to the intestinal lining of the gastrointestinal tract and potentially other long term health complications. Symptoms range from digestive issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea/vomiting to anemia, headaches, joint pain, skin issues, and fatigue.
Avoiding foods containing wheat, barley, and rye is the foundation of managing symptoms to support
your long- term health. Other foods containing gluten are baked goods, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad
dressings, food coloring, and more. Following a gluten free lifestyle requires keen observation and
preparation strategies to help reduce autoimmune response.
Understanding your diet, researching restaurants, asking questions, and looking for creative substitutes
allows for plenty of variety, so you are sure to eat meals you love! It’s common to feel overwhelmed as
you navigate choices and manage your own gluten free kitchen-especially if you live with others who are
not gluten free! As you learn and grow comfortable with asking questions around potential exposure to
gluten, discover new ways to prepare old favorites, and even find new foods you enjoy, maintaining a
gluten free lifestyle can be supportive without the feeling of constant sacrifice.
Being an advocate for your health needs will make experiences around meals more satisfying and helps
reduce stress around food related decisions.
A few great questions to ask when dining away from home are:
-Are there croutons or noodles as part of the meal?
-Were foods marinated or cooked with any sauces?
-Does soup contain barley or flour?
-Is separate cookware, cutting boards, and utensils used during food preparation?
-Is there a separate basket and oil for fried foods?
-Is bread a part of the meal?
A Registered Dietitian who specializes in gastrointestinal health can help those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Working to have a better understanding of what it means to be gluten sensitive vs. Celiac, increasing knowledge around food labels and menus, finding creative suggestions for favorite recipes, and where applicable, the need for increased awareness of cross contact -are just a few topics to help feel more empowered around making choices to support your health and improve your overall joy around eating.
Click here to schedule your appointment with one of our specialist gastrointestinal dietitians!