Gluten Free 101
NEOCN-Northeast Ohio Celiac Network
Suggestions for the Newly Diagnosed
by Laurie Sammon
Make an appointment with a dietitian who specializes in the GF diet after receiving a diagnosis.
• Your dietitian will start you out on good footing. We have 2 dietitians who both have celiac disease and practice the GF diet. Trisha Lyons RD LD (216-778-7835). Brenda Shapiro RD LD (440-785-1564).
• The Internet is a wonderful resource but can be filled with outdated or conflicting information. You may get discouraged tackling it on your own. Stick with reputable sites from national celiac organizations.
Scout out celiac support groups.
• Learn their websites, ask to join, or get added to their email list so you become connected. Most are free & meetings are open to all. Many groups now focus on new info and positive solutions instead of encouraging detail discussion of personal problems. Give them a try. They may have fun dining events, free GF samples, restaurant feedback, or activities for kids.
• There are 2 groups in Cleveland, and one each in: Akron, Canton, Mansfield, Ashland, Bellevue, Dunlap, Newark, Conneaut, Dayton, Cincinnati & Toledo. There is also a large one in Columbus that hosts a full day conference every October/November. Contact us at www.neohioceliac.com . Sign up is free.
Try to “wrap your head around” your diagnosis. Consider changing your viewpoint.
• You received a diagnosis. The problem has been identified. Good health is now possible, and you may be astounded how well you feel within a relatively short amount of time. Tell yourself from now on, you will choose good health instead of focusing on what you can’t have. You will find food you love in time.
• In the past perhaps you’ve received medication or therapy for an ailment, and in the short run, you’ve been helped. Celiac disease is life-long. You will be making 3-5 daily meal or snack decisions. Make these decisions because you want your good health.
• The good news is that the treatment isn’t like chemotherapy or surgery that is physically painful. The medication (food is your medication) isn’t so expensive that you have to take out a second mortgage. But when it comes to food, you will have to change your habits and pay more.
• Since food has a social component, (i.e. we celebrate with it) you may have to shift your view point. You should look forward to enjoying friends and family first, and put enjoying party food second, unless you can safely participate. And should you bring a GF item to share, you may make some converts or surprise others who may not know it is GF! Learn about restaurants where you can safely dine, and steer your friends to those locations when choosing where to meet.
Be prepared to travel out of your neighborhood to get variety.
• We all like to grocery shop at our neighborhood store. But depending on where you live, you may have to make trips occasionally to different grocery stores to get the variety/quality of GF food you love. For some, after diagnosis will be the first time they have stepped into a specialty grocery store.
• Celiac Disease Conferences often offer vendor fairs. Free samples allow you to taste before you purchase. Grocery stores have gluten free samplings or fairs to draw in customers, especially in fall and spring. Neighborhood GF expos are sprouting, Keep informed and stop by. Discounts or coupons may be included.
• Incorporate GF shopping into your vacation/travel plans. Members often will take a day trip when they hear of a fabulous GF menu, bakery or location with wonderful variety.
• If you can’t travel, consider shopping online. Many items are offered on Amazon or directly from the GF vendor. Shipping cost is a consideration, but so is gas cost if you travel.