This month is Celiac Awareness Month. I’m writing a mini post related to this each day, a quick read about life on a medically necessary gluten-free diet and living with Celiac disease. Today I’m sharing five things I wish I knew about going gluten free. I’d love for you to chime in and add your own.
When I was first diagnosed and eliminated gluten from my diet, I was overwhelmed. Very little information was offered by my doctor, Facebook groups were often a minefield of misinformation, gluten-free cookbooks were not abundant yet. I navigated through this in large part thanks to reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable, steadfast gluten-free bloggers. Here are five things I learned along the way that I wish I had known immediately.
- You will be able to travel, dine out, celebrate with friends again. It’s going to take a shift, a different approach but that can be fun. It’s a whole new adventure but very, very possible.
- Some people are going to say things to you that are rude, thoughtless, hurtful about eating gluten-free. BUT so many others are going to lift you up, support you, encourage you, learn to make meals you can safely eat, tell people making gluten jokes to STFU. Hold tight to those people and let them know how grateful you are.
- Don’t be afraid to take up space and spend time in the grocery store. Label reading is so important. Discovering new fruits and vegetables you could try, exploring all of the options that you’ve maybe overlooked, all of this takes time. Spend time really getting to know your favorite grocery store. You’re probably going to meet a new friend or two in the gluten-free section and might get to know the produce department manager who is giddy to tell you about a new variety of potato they just got in. Get comfortable with grocery shopping taking a minute.
- Gluten-Free doesn’t always mean gluten-free in a restaurant. Just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu, that doesn’t mean they prepare food in a way that is safe for those who have to eat a gluten-free diet for medical reasons. Ask about shared fryers. Ask about shared prep spaces and utensils. It’s always okay to ask for a manager to help you navigate this. And if the restaurant doesn’t want to help you navigate this, go elsewhere. Seriously. Have a beverage if you are dining with friends, but always know it’s okay to just leave.
- Make a GFF (Gluten-Free Friend). Or a dozen of them. Look for GFFs who live in your city. You might find them at the grocery store as I mentioned above, via a local support group or city-specific Facebook group. (Here’s my Kansas City group.) I’m right here and also on IG, I’m happy to be your GFF. You are going to thrive when you have friends who get it and will support you in your challenges.
What would you add? Anything you wish you had known when you were first diagnosed? I’m excited to hear what you found helpful!