Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine. It’s estimated that around 1 in 100 people are affected by celiac disease worldwide. Celiac disease is a chronic disorder, meaning it will likely be with you for life.
How is Celiac Disease treated?
Treating celiac disease begins after being diagnosed with the disorder by a celiac disease specialist. Celiac disease differs from many other diseases in that there is one main treatment for celiac disease—eliminating gluten forever. This treatment may sound black and white, but it is also difficult to learn to eat a strict gluten-free diet, especially considering the prevalence of gluten in our foods and beverages.
What is gluten anyway?
Gluten is an all-encompassing term for the proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc. It’s found in obvious culprits including pastas, breads, cookies, cereal and chips, while also lurking in processed foods like French fries, cosmetics, household cleaners and even beer!
How do I avoid gluten?
Easily, the best tool for avoiding gluten in your diet is to read the labels! Most labels will have a badge that states it is a gluten-free item. Many grocery stores even have their own gluten-free aisle. Most recipes can be reworked to be celiac-friendly. When dining out, it’s important to talk to your server about your dietary restrictions. Some restaurants offer gluten-free menu options or will specially prepare a meal that fits your needs.
Establish a Support System
Since there is only one “cure” for celiac disease, it’s important to be diligent about managing your disease, which starts with diet. Planning is key. Bring your lunches to work, read menus for restaurants beforehand and be sure to share your dietary restriction with friends, family and coworkers so they can be sensitive to your needs and work to accommodate your gluten-free diet. Join online discussion boards or forums for celiac disease to learn and share information with others suffering from the disease.
Be proactive. Since the gluten-free treatment generally works for celiac disease, it’s important to be assertive about your diet and work hard to identify and avoid gluten hiding in less obvious foods and beverages. You can do it!