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30 Ways To Make Your Celiac Friend Feel “Normal”

Coffee and celiac

Has your friend just been diagnosed with celiac disease?  A diagnosis of celiac can be overwhelming at first and can make so many food related activities off limits or require a lot of pre planning, making the experience more stressful than enjoyable.

Often times, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity will deny food related invitations due to the fact that they “don’t even want to deal with it.”

Food related events outside of the home, especially at the onset of diagnosis, can be anxiety provoking.  In fact, did you know, that a diagnosis of depression and/or anxiety is commonly associated with celiac disease?

Not only is the individual still learning what gluten free entails, they now have to think about navigating this diet with someone else preparing the food, which is next to impossible.  And, let alone, stressful!

Think about it like comparing celiac (a condition that medically requires a gluten free diet) to a peanut allergy.  Would you want a friend to cook for you who has a mediocre knowledge on managing a peanut allergy (potentially risking anaphylaxis)? Likely not.  Same answer for gluten free.

Our friends may have the best intentions to make a meal gluten free, but unless they have been thoroughly educated on cross contamination and reading labels, it is very unlikely that they will be able to prepare a safe meal for a celiac (read – please do not attempt!).

Eating out in a restaurant is another hurdle that a celiac has to climb.  Imagine going from ordering whatever you want, whenever you want to having to basically interrogate the server on safe kitchen practices for allergens and asking for ingredient lists on food items.  Sound overwhelming?  It is.  And, it is even more so for someone who is newly diagnosed because they still need to learn to identify risky foods in restaurants and learn the correct questions to ask to reduce the risk of cross contamination.

There are even individuals who have years of a celiac diagnosis on their belt and still experience a mountain of stress when considering food invitations outside of the home.  Because we all have to eat three meals a day, food and, more importantly, safe gluten free food is always on the mind of celiacs, 24/7, 365 days out of the year.  It can be exhausting.

So, sometimes, it’s nice to forget about it.  And the activities below take food out of the equation so your celiac friend can forget about their diagnosis, if only for a few hours.

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May is Celiac Awareness Month: Calling all Servers, Chefs and Bakers

picnic table

May is celiac awareness month. And, I want to reach out to the food service industry in hopes to help celiacs increase their confidence when eating out. I want celiacs (myself included) to enjoy eating out again, not fear it and not avoid it.

Celiacs love food.  We love eating out.  But, much of the time, we are secluded from the joyful experience of sharing food with others or designated to eating salad time and time again.  Look, I love my vegetables.  I am a dietitian, of course!  But, there comes a limit to my salad intake.

The problem seems to stem from the lack of knowledge of celiac disease including how to prepare food safely for a celiac.   It also comes from the assumption that celiac = a meal free from gluten ingredients. Which, of course, it is. But, that’s only half the story.

Just as important of a meal free from gluten ingredients, is a meal prepared in a manner that reduces the risk of cross contamination as much as possible.  Celiacs know that, but more often than not, the food service industry doesn’t seem to recognize or care about the importance of this.

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Unlocking the Potential of Dried Plums!

Fiber and the gluten free diet

March is nutrition month and the theme this year is unlocking the potential of food.  Food has the power to heal, prevent, fuel, discover and bring us together.

When you think of foods that fit into this years nutrition theme, we can definitely turn to dried plums to discover their amazing health benefits.  Dried plums may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think about unlocking the potential of food, but they should definitely be on your radar.

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Gluten Free on a Budget: Healthy Breakfast Swaps for the Gluten Free Diet

Shopping gluten free on a budget

I hear it from clients all the time, “the gluten free diet is expensive.”  And, while, there is certainly some truth to that for a minority of products, there are a multitude of ways to stay on budget, while still eating safely and I am excited to share them with you!

So, the first one we are going to cover today is gluten free cereal.  Gluten free cereal is expensive, a processed food and does not need to be an ‘everyday’ food.  Certainly, eating it once in a while, is no big deal.  However, it shouldn’t be a staple food in the house as there are many other more nutritious GF options.  Let’s explore the alternative options.

When I costed the ingredients below, I used a common breakfast cereal that I see frequently in client food journals. I purposefully left out the brand name.

As a general reference, when I am looking at the nutrition facts of a cereal, I commonly look at two things -fiber and added sources of sugar.  So, if fiber is low, the rest of the nutrition facts of the product are typically not great.  If sugar is high, the rest of the nutrition facts of the product are also, typically, not great.

Daily Goals for Fiber and Limits for Added Sugars: 

  • Fiber Goals/Day: Minimum of 25g/day for a Women, 30-38g/day for Men
  • Added Sugar Limits/Day: No more than 20-35g in a day

GF Cereal Fiber Goals and Limit for Added Sugar:

  • Fiber Goals/serving of GF cereal:  at least 4g of fiber/ONE serving
  • Added Sugar Limit/serving of GF cereal: no more than 6g sugar/ONE serving

All product costing below came from the Real Canadian Superstore, Amazon.ca, Well.ca, Prana.Bio and/or Walmart and made use of sales/coupons, if available.

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10 Gluten Free Foods That Always Fill My Grocery Basket

Grocery Shopping gluten free

Ever wonder what is in a celiac dietitian’s grocery cart?  Well, now is your chance!  These foods are always stocked in our house, making meals easy to throw together with the pantry staples I keep in our cupboard too (another post for another time).

Not only do the foods below make healthy, gluten free meals in a jiffy, but, many also contain key nutrients that celiacs need more of and/or tend to be deficient in.

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