1. After being diagnosed, take a minute or two to mourn if needed. I remember feeling so lost and upset after realizing that I would be losing so many of my favorite foods: foods that carried me through my childhood, foods I ate with friends, foods that have brought my family together. It can be overwhelming, so don’t resist these slight feelings of loss and sadness. It WILL get easier to adjust with time.
2. Realize that this is not just a change of diet. Its’ a change of lifestyle. You will grow and change for the better in ways that you never thought possible (and would never be possible with gluten in your life!) You will spend the rest of your life eating, breathing, and sleeping gluten free, so get comfortable with this new and improved change to your life!
3. Explore the internet: looks at blogs such as Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, Gluten Free Goddess, and Elana’s Pantry. These will help to reassure you that you are not missing out on eating extremely well by being gluten free, and they may also get you excited about trying your hand at cooking/baking with new ingredients!
4. Talk about the details of Celiac Disease with family and friends. Chances are they are as new to this as you are, so be patient with them. Remember that they want whats best for you, and they will be willing to compromise certain things to help you eat safely. Be sure that they know the level of seriousness of the disease, and let them know that this is going to be a learning and growing process for everybody.
5. Go to the store and buy these items: a new toaster, new frying pans of various sizes, new baking pans, new cutting board(s). These are kitchen items that have a nasty habit of absorbing gluten that has touched them, making them unsafe for you to use. Be sure to label your new items as “Gluten Free Only”, and alert the people sharing your kitchen. Also, be sure to get your own jar of peanut butter, jelly, condiments, and butter from now on.
6. Try not to get jealous of, angry at, or isolated from your family/friends. You might feel sometimes that they are “rubbing it in your face” when they eat something like a donut in front of you, but the truth is, they just aren’t aware that this might have an impact on you. You will have to deal with people eating glutenous foods you might miss right in front of you for the rest of your life, so start adjusting now.
7. You have the right to be healthy. Walk your family and friends through processes like wiping down the counter of bread crumbs, using separate utensils for gluten-y foods and g-free foods, and checking food labels before adding in ingredients. If you are patient with them, they will do what they can to keep you healthy.