If you have received a diagnosis from your doctor that confirms you have celiac disease; it is natural to wonder what comes next. Many doctors will offer guidelines which may include tips to live gluten-free. While these guidelines are essential, it is also very important that you truly understand your medical condition.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac disease is defined as, “a genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.” It is estimated that the disease affects one in every one hundred people worldwide. If left untreated, celiac disease can cause long-term health conditions such as gall bladder malfunction, infertility or miscarriage, pancreatic insufficiency, early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
In addition to having a better understanding of celiac disease, educating yourself about the changes to expect in your lifestyle, will prove helpful. Some of the changes include:
- Discarding of any food that contains gluten. This means sticking to a strict diet that excludes wheat, barley, farina, oats, rye and other items that are known to have gluten.
- Excluding certain items from your diet may deprive you of some nutrients; it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about which vitamins and dietary supplements you should take.
- Evaluating the ingredients in medications; some may have small amounts of gluten.
- Taking care of your body by exercising and implementing more fruits and fresh vegetables into your diet.
- Following up with your physician or dietitian as recommended. This is important as it will help them to monitor your nutritional intake and check for deficiencies.
Finding resources that can help you transition or stick to new your lifestyle, such as your doctor, support groups, organizations such as the Celiac Disease Foundation or a local hospital can help make life after your celiac diagnosis a little easier.
The Nutritional Services Department at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center supports National Celiac Awareness Day. This observance falls on September 13 of each year and was created to help people learn more about celiac disease and how it impacts lives. Jamaica Hospital’s registered dietitians assist many patients, including those with celiac disease to grow their knowledge about nutrition, wellness and healthy eating. An appointment with a registered dietitian consists of a comprehensive nutrition assessment, nutrition education, behavior modification counseling and goal setting.
To schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-7001.