Celiac disease is a digestive condition caused by hypersensitivity to gluten, a protein found in breads, pastas, cookies and other foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. Currently, there is no medical treatment that can cure celiac disease, but avoiding gluten can minimize intestinal damage and intestinal symptoms.
At first, living without gluten may seem difficult, but before long, the gluten-free lifestyle can become second nature. If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, look for local support groups and research more information online. Hearing from people who have had to endure the same experiences as you can help you better understand how to navigate your new lifestyle and take charge of your condition.
“Reach out to your family and friends and teach them about your disease,” says Keith Laskin, MD, medical director of the Celiac Center at Paoli Hospital. “They’ll need to understand why the changes you’re making are so important for your health.”
One of the most difficult things about being diagnosed with celiac disease can be learning the ways in which your diet will need to change. Working closely with a dietitian who specializes in gluten-free living is essential. Since many common foods contain gluten, from the croutons on your salad to some soups and sauces, it may seem like your favorite foods are out of the question. Not so.
“Being diagnosed with celiac disease isn’t the death knell for your appetite,” explains Dr. Laskin. “More grocery stores and restaurants are offering gluten-free substitutes for popular foods.”
Websites like www.GlutenFreeRestaurants.org and www.GlutenFreeRegistry.com are excellent resources for finding bakeries, restaurants and stores that offer gluten-free products. Visit our website for a list of local restaurants with gluten-free options.
If you’re having trouble navigating your way through a new diet, talk to your doctor or dietitian, who can help you plan a gluten-free menu and identify sources of gluten in common foods. The Celiac Center at Paoli Hospital offers nutritional guidance for patients who have been diagnosed with celiac disease.