Getting diagnosed with celiac disease can be challenging as it requires a total diet overhaul. You have to absolutely avoid gluten as much as possible – which is a protein pretty much present in most food products.
However, just because you’re on a strict gluten-free diet doesn’t mean you can’t eat delicious food, or eat out at restaurants, or come to dinner parties.
Here are 5 ways to cope with celiac disease from our gluten-free friend, blogger, and baker, Jasmine Ann Gardiner:
1. Explain the difference between gluten-free and wheat-free
The simplest way to put it is the fact that all wheat contains gluten, but not all gluten comes from wheat. A wheat-free diet means avoiding all wheat products. A gluten-free diet means cutting out all grains that have gluten, not just wheat.
Most food products containing wheat and gluten indicate this on their packaging. An allergen statement can also be found below the ingredients list, stating whether the food stuff may contain gluten or wheat.
Understanding the difference between the two will make it easier for your friends to understand the food you need to steer clear from.
2. Educate your friends and family about your condition
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where your body reacts adversely to gluten – a protein found in barley, wheat, and rye. This disease can be triggered at any point in anyone’s life and so far, the only ‘cure’ is committing to a life-long gluten-free diet. Educate your friends and family about these things about the celiac disease so that they can give you the support you need.
3. Explore your gluten-free options
While gluten is present in most processed foods, there are still plenty of foods you can eat – such as legumes, unprocessed meats, fruits, and vegetables. There are also gluten-free versions of grains that have amazing nutritional benefits.
You can also get back to baking with the wide availability of gluten-free ‘flours’. If you don’t want to totally quit your favorite gluten snacks such as pasta, bread, cakes, cereals, and biscuits, there are plenty of gluten-free versions of them available in your local supermarket.
4. Gluten-free dinners parties are totally possible!
If you dread being invited to dinner parties and end up not being able to eat anything on the menu, your friends might just need the extra help of understanding how they can cater to your gluten-free needs.
It’s also a great idea to mention that gluten can hide in many unexpected places. For example, chicken tikka masala and other store-bought chicken stock soups contain gluten as a thickener. Let your friends and family know which brands are safe for you.
5. Thank your friends, preferably with cake!
There’s nothing better to show your appreciation to your thoughtful friends by offering them a gluten-free cake that you baked yourself. They’ll love the gesture and be pleasantly surprised how yummy gluten-free baking can be.