Diet for Celiac Disease
The recommended diet for celiac disease is a gluten free diet. A celiac diet should be gluten free because in people with celiac disease, the body’s immune system mistakes gluten for something threatening and attacks the gluten, which damages the small intestine. This damage causes unpleasant symptoms and also makes it difficult to absorb nutrients from food, thereby leading to potentially serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Gluten Free Diet for Celiac Disease
People with celiac disease need to eat a gluten free diet. Gluten is a form of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Foods that often contain gluten include cereals, breads, bagels, crackers, pasta, and pizza crust.
You may be surprised at some of the other foods that contain gluten. For instance, beer is made from barley, so it contains gluten. Some foods are labeled “wheat free” but contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is usually made from wheat and therefore contains gluten. Some cereals or other foods list “malt” as an ingredient, which is made from barley and contains gluten. Some cheese products contain gluten. Processed meats like hotdogs and salami often contain gluten, as well.
People with celiac disease need to educate themselves about what foods contain gluten and read labels carefully to make sure they don’t eat things that will make their symptoms worse.
Why Eat a Gluten Free Diet for Celiac Disease?
Eating a gluten free celiac diet requires reading labels carefully and making wise food choices. It can take some work, but it’s worth it. Many of the common symptoms of celiac disease, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort, can be greatly reduced or even eliminated altogether with the proper diet for celiac disease. Even more importantly, continuing to eat foods containing gluten will just cause further damage to the small intestine, which puts people with celiac disease at serious risk for nutritional deficiencies. Following the proper celiac diet allows the damage done to the small intestine to heal so that people can properly absorb nutrients again.
Some people with celiac disease find dairy products like milk, yogurt, and ice cream make their symptoms worse. Others find dairy products don’t bother them much. Doctors and dieticians often advise patients just beginning a celiac diet to greatly reduce or eliminate dairy products from their diet initially, but allow patients to gradually add these foods back into their diet at a later time. Patients that cannot tolerate dairy products can use soymilk or almond milk, soy yogurt, and ice cream made from rice milk or soymilk instead.
Learning to Eat a Celiac Diet
Because it’s so important to eat a proper diet for celiac disease, patients should make sure to talk to their doctors about their diet. It might be helpful to make an appointment with a registered dietician as well. A registered dietician is a health care professional that specializes in food and nutrition. A registered dietician can advise patients about the best diet for celiac patients and help them devise a personalized meal plan. A registered dietician can help people find gluten free substitutes for their favorite foods that normally contain gluten.
Switching from a regular diet to a gluten free diet can be challenging. Working with a registered dietician can help make the process easier. There are also a number of cookbooks available containing gluten free recipes. Many grocery stores now carry some gluten free products, and health foods stores usually have an even better selection. Some restaurants also offer gluten free dishes. It may take some time to get used to, but people with celiac disease can enjoy plenty of good, healthy food while managing their symptoms.
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