So you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance…
No, really. I’d being lying to say I wasn’t ecstatic to have been diagnosed with Celiac. I had ANSWERS as to why I’d felt so crappy for so long. Or, at least I thought I did.
I went gluten free as soon as my endoscopy was completed and didn’t look back. As much as I did feel somewhat better as a result, it wasn’t the be-all-end-all panacea of health for which I’d been hoping.
I tried to work out my ongoing symptoms in the mainstream medical system for a few years. After all, I was a health care professional! I could research my way out of this! I would just gluten free harder!
Nope. But there is hope.
What I wish I had known at diagnosis
I wish I had recognized root cause medicine—getting behind the WHY of disease. I now know that there were likely several contributing factors to my immune system going haywire. I also know that some of those funky immune responses could be at least partially mediated by diet change beyond “just” going off gluten.
I needed to focus on what I WAS eating instead of just what I wasn’t. I also needed to realize that my digestion was crap. (Well, I mean, it literally is for everyone. But it was poor, too.) If I couldn’t digest and absorb the nutritious food I was eating, I couldn’t use the nutrients. Plain and simple. But not actually simple in its implementation.
I wish I had been able to implement a healing/elimination diet such as the Wahls Protocol, SCD/GAPS, Autoimmune Paleo, or other templates that remove the most inflammatory foods, then reintroduce foods to find what works for me. Instead, I spent years doing the opposite—restricting my diet more… and more… and more… until it was easier to tell people what I did eat instead of what I didn’t.
It would have been much easier (and probably less stressful) to start with a nutrient dense anti-inflammatory diet and work up from there. (Opinions vary on whether this is the best approach. I’d be happy to talk about what might work best for you, your body, and your personality, though a nutritionist, I am not. Nor do I play one on TV.)
Do whatever is LEAST stressful, factoring in the stress of inflammation from food, the stress of being nutrient deficient, AND also mental and physical stress of changing too much at once or having a restrictive mindset. It’s definitely a delicate balance.
I wish I had realized how much other factors played in—exposure to environmental toxins through my food, skincare, and home.
I wish I had the internet as it is now, instead of the two (yes, two) gluten free blogs that I followed. #throwback
What to do when newly diagnosed
Take a deep breath. It’s all ok. Promise.
Read, read, then read some more. Take notes.
Find someone in your local area (a GF friend, a nutritionist, someone at the farmer’s market, etc.) who can direct you toward the best GF REAL food resources. When I say real food, I mean something that grew, walked, swam, or likewise. Not GF Pop Tarts or Cheerios.
Learn about: nutrient density, food quality, personal care products (basically any product in your bathroom), environmental toxins (such as plastics, cleaning products, mold, off-gassing)
Learn to read ingredient labels. Eat more food without labels. Know that just because it is GF doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthy choice that will contribute positively to your healing.
Learn how to cook at a basic level. Learn to love it, if at all possible. (I’m still working on that.)
My favorite resources
Wired to Eat* by Robb Wolf–I especially recommend this book to anyone struggling with blood sugar issues, diabetes, and/or obesity. Really, though, everyone can benefit from reading about how your body responds to food and how we’re all wired to eat, albeit differently.
The Wahls Protocol* by Dr. Terry Wahls–Her own healing story is nothing short of amazing. A must-read for anyone who eats, much less anyone with an inkling of autoimmunity.
Nutrition and Recipe Sites:
Cleaning up your home and products:
Beautycounter (safer skincare, check HERE to see what is GF. Yes, GF does matter to me, at least to a degree. Gluten in personal care products may not bother you, but it’s worth looking into safer products anyway.)
EWG’s Skin Deep database (to check on personal care product safety in general, GF info may be hard to find. See article above.)
Dr. Ben Lynch (genes and environment)
Stasher (silicone storage bags)
Lifefactory (glass water bottles)
I’m sure I’ll add more to this list as I think of it!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you start feeling overwhelmed! It seems like every “expert” (including every random person with an online presence) has an opinion on the best way to eat for your body. Even I get overwhelmed by the myriad recommendations sometimes. Newsflash, while they may know more about biochemistry or nutrition, only YOU can tell how you feel.
Learn to listen to your body. I’m not being woo woo, it’s a skill that takes practice.
I’ll just go drink some water now. That’s safe, right? If it’s been triple filtered from a natural spring on an organic farm and has balanced electrolytes and has been blessed by a priest, a rabbi, and Robb Wolf himself. But not too much water, because too much is bad, too. LOL
-Lindsay, the RP