Alicia Woodward: Hi! I am Alicia Woodward, editor of 'Living Without,' the world's leading magazine for people with food allergies and sensitivities.
Today, I would like to share five steps to take after you're diagnosed with celiac disease. First, understand your disease. Make a point to learn all you can about your condition. Look online for up-to-date information on cross contamination, gluten containing ingredients and product labeling.
Second, build a medical team. Consult a doctor and nutritionist, who is specialized in celiac disease. A savvy nutritionist can get you started on the gluten-free diet, get regular checkups to be certain you are not inadvertently ingesting gluten.
Celiacs are typically susceptible to other medical conditions, from lactose intolerance in osteoporosis to other autoimmune disorders and an alert doctor will work closely with you to lower your risks.
Celiac disease is inherited, so family members, especially first degree relative are at higher risk. Make sure relatives are screened early on to avoid serious complications of untreated celiac disease.
Join a celiac group. Celiac support groups offer a wealth of information, food samples, tips about the local restaurants, doctor recommendations, recipes and of course, friendships and emotional support. If your child is gluten free, a support group is a must for kid-friendly foods and activities, stock the basics.
Check your pantry and remove all foods that contain gluten. Clean or replace kitchen items where there is a risk of cross contamination, such as your toaster, your food mill and bread maker. Take this opportunity to improve your overall diet by choosing simple, nutritious, unprocessed foods. Most whole foods are naturally gluten free, but keep some prepared items like gluten-free pasta, soups and pretzels and frozen pizza on hand, to keep you from feeling deprived and less tempted to cheat.
Even if you've never baked from scratch before, consider doing it now. Invest in a heavy duty bread machine to bake your own gluten-free loaves. Homemade is less expensive, often tastes better and is more nutritious than items you buy at the grocery store.
With a little practice you'll become a pro at creating delicious food and treats for yourself and your family. You can largely control your health by what you choose to eat. Without medications or prescriptions, you can heal yourself simply by taking charge and changing your diet.