Family Health

Going Gluten-Free: The Impact Celiac Disease Can Have on Your Family

May 20 • 2015

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, and one of the most important topics is how being diagnosed with celiac disease can impact your entire family. This genetic autoimmune disease interferes with the absorption of nutrients and is triggered by gluten. But because gluten is found in many different foods, adjusting your diet can be an overwhelming thought. It may seem even more difficult for people with families because it often becomes a lifestyle change for everyone.

Many people who have been newly diagnosed with celiac disease find themselves becoming withdrawn from their normal social lives or events involving food because of their specific dietary restrictions. Coping with celiac disease in your family doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may think. Try these tips to ease into your family’s new diet:

Analyze What You Already Have
Many people go to the grocery store immediately after a celiac disease diagnosis to buy gluten-free products, but this can be an overwhelming first step that leaves you feeling frustrated. Instead, begin your new diet by checking the foods you already have in your pantry and refrigerator. Many of the items you have on hand may already be gluten-free.

Meal Plan in Advance
Planning meals in advance can reduce stress, make it easier to shop at the grocery store, and help you stay on track. Try to incorporate as many naturally gluten-free foods first, and then consider which items you’ll have to look for that aren’t typically gluten free. Sticking to this plan at the store can keep you from becoming overwhelmed by the increasing number of gluten-free options.

Prepare Food Thoughtfully
Once you begin preparing meals, remember that you can still contaminate your food with gluten. If other family members are still eating gluten in their diet, you’ll want to be sure toasters, utensils, plates, and serving dishes are always cleaned thoroughly. Counter-tops should be cleaned before preparing food on them to remove any wheat crumbs. Make sure your entire family is on board so it is easier for you to cope with your gluten allergy.

Research Before Eating Out
Just because someone has celiac disease does not mean enjoying a meal out at a restaurant is impossible. If you’re looking to go out to eat, research the menu options before you go. Call ahead to ask the management team any questions you may have and once you arrive, make it clear to your waiter that you have a gluten allergy. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about how the food is prepared.

Family support is very important to people who have celiac disease. Make sure all family members know the dietary requirements and are involved in buying groceries and preparing meals. Being on board with the same diet can be beneficial as well.

To find out more about celiac disease and how it can impact your life, click here.