When you are newly diagnosed with Coeliac’s disease it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. This is a ridiculously huge change to your life that is going to creep into literally all aspects of it, from home, and work, to your social life, you name it. This change is coming and it’s going to have a massive impact.
So having lived through what your about to attempt I can impart some words of wisdom that will hopefully help soften the blow. Below are my Six tips for dealing with your Coeliac diagnosis, please note I am by no means a medical professional and what worked for me may not work for you.
Boring I know but the chances are if you’re reading this post you’re already looking at every bit of information you can get your hands on. Either way let’s invest some time in “You” as you deserve nothing less. When I was newly diagnosed the best thing I did was treat this life change as a project. I have a file that I keep to this day (8 years on) with all the basics I needed …. And still need now and again. To get going just hit the basics, you do not need to go over-board.
At this point a great place to begin is understanding what’s going on in that body of yours. Here is an article from the NHS that will get you started https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coeliac-disease .
2.Find and create recipes
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was taking everything I already ate (pizza etc) and replacing it with gluten-free alternatives, I urge you not to do this as you will be very disappointed. Gluten free food has come a long way in the last few years but nothing can replace what you already love and you may have a hard time letting go… I did and as a consequence whenever I was stressed I would cheat, which can only lead to bad things. pain, bloating, extended visits to our friend, The Toilet! Since then I have found some amazing recipes and eaten foods I would never have even considered. Use this time to broaden your knowledge of food and have fun – it took me a long time to figure that out, but each to their own.
3.Get used to reading food labels
Seriously, get used to it! This is now your fulltime job and the first trip to the supermarket is not going to be pretty, give yourself some extra time (like 12 hours!!) with no distractions (like well minded loved ones).
OMG! On my first trip out to buy food, it’s amazing that nobody died. I was so overwhelmed and just wanted to cry into the organic carrots. I was massively under prepared and just thought it would be fun. Do not…. I repeat do not, go without a plan of action or you will be found in 2 days’ time sobbing into a freezer on isle 3. Put together a shopping list for a couple of days’ worth of snacks and meals, list the ingredients and don’t stray from the list. Check all labels and don’t rely on what you’ve read online or what you picked up last week as food labels and ingredients are all subject to change, outside of the ‘Free From’ isle everything unfortunately is fair game. So Check Check Check! It’s worth every second. In time, this will become second nature but I still make mistakes even now.
4.There are no stupid questions
This has, or will probably be said to you a lot over the years but it really is true. If you don’t know, ask, there is a wealth of knowledge out there from nutritionists to bloggers and beyond. A great resource for answers from my personal experience has been Facebook groups, I still engage in many Facebook groups including my own as to this day I still come across new information or I can help out a fellow Coeliac.
The Coeliac community from across the globe is far greater in number than you could ever imagine and you do not have to go through this alone. Whatever your go to on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter to name but a few) there are people waiting to support you as we know exactly how you feel. So take a deep breath and ask. There are no stupid questions, I promise.
5.Take care of yourself.
Many people in your family and social circle will try to help but many never understand how complex your need now is. This is all about keeping yourself safe in all situations, you will feel that your causing problems in restaurants, you will always have those people who think you’re “just being awkward”, but speaking from experience do not let things slide. I have been in so many situations where somebody has made a mistake, or I know cross contamination is going to be an issue and not said anything. Please look after yourself first and foremost, pick your restaurants carefully, your family and friends will learn eventually but it’s your responsibility to educate them in the long run.
6.Don’t be so hard on yourself.
It’s easy in a transition like this to get frustrated and down on yourself, this is something that not many people in your immediate life have to go through and chances are you have never met somebody that has to check everything they eat.
Give yourself the time to come to terms with your new journey and grieve your old life. Its ok to miss food that you love, talk about it, scream about it if you have to. Everything you’re feeling is valid and we all deal with this journey in different ways. Be upset when you need to, be positive when you can and give yourself a break because mistakes will happen.
If you have any questions or if you want me to consider a specific topic for me next blog, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Angry Coeliac.