5 tips to increase your emotional quality of life with celiac disease

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month in Canada!

Being myself celi­ac, I came across a great art­icle (see below) on the qual­ity of life of people dia­gnosed with celi­ac dis­ease, and if people adher­ing to that diet actu­ally improves health-related qual­ity of life.

Of course, most people who begin and adhere to a glu­ten-free diet who are celi­ac notice a huge improve­ment in their mood, gastrointest­in­al tracts, their skin, their growth, and energy (provided that is the only issue with their body at that time). Nutritional defi­cien­cies like B12 dis­ap­pear, and there is a chance for the gut and body to heal.

What about the trauma of doing the actu­al diet, and being in a social or fam­ily situ­ations where the diet is, in fact, a stress of its own?

Education about what products have glu­ten (hid­den or not), under­stand­ing how to read food labels, learn­ing how to eat is over­whelm­ing on its own. Just under­stand­ing that you can’t have pizza day when you’re at school as a child newly dia­gnosed, and that birth­day cake is out at a birth­day party can be upset­ting. It can feel like you’re the odd one out, for sure, and often those around you who don’t under­stand what celi­ac dis­ease is and its poten­tial health risks with glu­ten expos­ure can unknow­ingly add to the intern­al feel­ing of isol­a­tion.

5 steps to increase your emotional quality of life with celiac disease

  1. Educate your­self and your loved ones
  2. Read as much as you can. At the bot­tom of this art­icle are a few links for those places that have great glu­ten-free inform­a­tion. Have a health pro­fes­sion­al edu­cate you on what is miss­ing from your diet when you go glu­ten-free and how to replace it, health­ily. Not everything glu­ten-free is good for your body. Restaurants (and chefs espe­cially) can be sur­pris­ingly accom­mod­at­ing when you are out for a meal in help­ing make tasty, filling, and healthy options.

    If you are an older per­son dia­gnosed and notice that oth­er fam­ily mem­bers are hav­ing trouble, give them a short list of things that you can eat when you are with them and they are host­ing. They will feel happy that they are not mak­ing you sick, and you will feel less afraid of being exposed.

  3. Find altern­at­ives for your­self to have with you that you enjoy
  4. If you keep look­ing back at all of the things you’re miss­ing, you won’t be able to enjoy new things that you actu­ally might like that don’t con­tain glu­ten. I know for myself, I remem­ber real­iz­ing I actu­ally liked salads as long as they had a great rela­tion­ship with dif­fer­ent pro­teins, a nice simple dress­ing, and some nuts and seeds. It got me away from sand­wiches for lunch until I found glu­ten-free breads that I liked.

  5. Have someone you love that you can trust keep you account­able (if you’re newly dia­gnosed)
  6. This one is import­ant. It is going to be hard if you are a per­son who has milder symp­toms and is only a small incon­veni­ence to your life not eat­ing wheat, so try to get someone you love to remind you, such as “are you sure it’s a good idea to eat that banana bread?”, and so on. It may help to remind you why you’re doing this in the first place if you write down some­thing to store in your phone or in a journ­al of how you felt eat­ing glu­ten and how you do not eat­ing it.

  7. Get emo­tion­al sup­port if you need it
  8. Gluten-laden foods are plen­ti­ful, deli­cious, and you can’t have them. It sucks. Sometimes it sucks more than you are able to cope with ini­tially. Allow your­self to feel sad/​angry/​left out…but we don’t want you to get stuck there. Get out­side sources of emo­tion­al sup­port such as psy­cho­ther­apy if you need, espe­cially if you have a sup­port net­work that is less than sup­port­ive.

  9. Find oth­er things that make you feel happy and joy­ous, includ­ing being around people that also make you feel that way
  10. There is more to life than food! Of course you know this. I’m not sug­gest­ing not eat­ing, I’m sug­gest­ing don’t hinge your entire life’s hap­pi­ness on wheth­er you can eat at every bakery you see. Enjoy your hob­bies. Enjoy your friends and fam­ily that are lov­ing and sup­port­ive.

Resources for Gluten-free Living

Canadian Celiac Association
Gluten-Free Society
Gluten-Free Coupons

Baking

Gluten-Free Girl
Gluten-Free Goddess

Burger JP, de Brouwer B, IntHout J, Wahab PJ, Tummers M, Drenth JP. Systematic review with meta-ana­lys­is: Dietary adher­ence influ­ences nor­mal­iz­a­tion of health-related qual­ity of life in coeli­ac dis­ease. Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr 30. pii: S0261-5614(16)30067-X.

White LE, Bannerman E, Gillett PM. Coeliac dis­ease and the glu­ten-free diet: a review of the bur­dens; factors asso­ci­ated with adher­ence and impact on health-related qual­ity of life, with spe­cif­ic focus on adoles­cence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2016 May 23. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12375. [Epub ahead of print]

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