For the “Newbies” (finally) Chapter 1

I keep telling everyone I am working on this post for newly diagnosed Celiacs, yet it has taken me over a month to get back to it. I kept coming up with new ideas to add. Websites to see. Books to read. Recipes to try. GF products to avoid. Ones to try. I was almost as overwhelmed as my first trip to the grocery store after diagnosis. (which ended in tears)

Then a realized, that is what this whole blog is about. Keeping you in the know about new ideas, recipes, blogs, websites, books, etc.

I don’t have to do it all in one post. *sigh of relief*

That being said, I have had some requests. And have gotten some great tips and ideas from other Celiac friends. So, I’ll post some tid bits today, then stop back soon, I’ll add more each day. (favorite books, websites, restaurants, stores, etc)

Keep reading. Shoot me an email here by clicking on the ABOUT ME tab. Subscribe via email to my site. Leave comments. Tell me your favorites. And the gf stuff you can’t stand. (save someone from paying $6.99 for bread that is like cardboard, no matter how much you toast it)

~ When you are first diagnosed, it can be completely overwhelming. In my case, the doctor told me to start the gluten free diet right away (the day of the scope) and left me with this resource, “There is plenty of information online about the gluten free diet.” Nice.

So I was on my own. I had already done some research online, but the thought of not having pizza or beer again was devastating. (this was of course before I found all of the great alternatives)

That was almost two years ago. Since then, I have done extensive research online, relied on THE best forum ever, read books, asked plenty of questions, called so many companies that I know exactly how to get a representative, shed tears in early moments of grieving over foods I missed, met some pretty amazing Celiac pals, and felt better than I have in YEARS!!

If you are just starting out. No worries. It WILL get easier. I promise. There really are so many things that we can have.You just have to find out which foods are safe and which are unsafe. Print these lists out and take them to the store with you in the beginning. I carried mine around for a while until I felt comfortable label reading. And there are some lists out there that list mainstream products that are gluten free. Use these with caution. As a guide. They can quickly become outdated. Call the companies anyway.

My advice to you:

1. Start out with easy things to find at the store. Stick to the outside of the grocery store at first. Fresh products: fruits, vegs, meats (careful with marinades) we can have those! Once you feel more comfortable reading labels, you can get more adventurous.

2. READ every label. It gets old. It can be annoying. But just do it. There have been products/brands that I have had before that change their recipes/ingredients. They don’t call you up and tell you they’ve changed them. Sometimes we find out the hard way. There are also hidden gluten sources, which can be tricky.

3. Think about your favorite meals. Tacos? Lasagna? Pizza? Steak and potatoes? Veggie stir fry? You can modify them all to be gluten free. Before you go out and buy 24 new gf cookbooks, think about the recipes you already have, it doesn’t take much to convert them to gf. And head to the library and check out a gf cookbook before you buy it.

4. Get rid of your toaster. I tried like crazy to get all the crumbs stuck to the inside wire-thingys, it didn’t work. Keep it for someone in your fam that is not on a gluten free diet, or donate it. Then take a look at the rest of your kitchen to make sure it is safe. There is some great info over here at the forum.

5. Travel. Go places! Just be sure to do some planning before you go. I was terrified to leave my safe little kitchen at first, but then I had no choice when a work trip came up. It all worked out. I over packed food. Came home with plenty of leftovers. Found places with food I could have. (super supportive co-workers, a van full of fun headed to Ohio) If we plan to head out for a weekend and I’m not sure what options I will have, I cook a pizza the night before and have cold pizza for a standby. I made it through a week long trip on the Harley, 1000 miles, didn’t pack anything but a couple Lara Bars (which returned home with us) and some banana bread I made before leaving. Here are some tips from celiac.com too.

6. Find a support group in your area. It’s easy to search for them online. My hope is to start one “in the city.” A new one. Make some plans. Eat out. Meet other gf friends. Good times.

7. Spend some time online. Do your research. There are a plethora of sites with resources, recipes, tips, etc.Β  Read blogs. That’s how this all started. Sign up for newsletters. (they often show up with great recipes)

8. Know that some companies do get it. They won’t hide gluten on their labels. Not under natural flavor. Nope, not at all. If you want to know more, thanks to Al, you can read it here.

9. Feel blessed if your family and friends do get it. I do. Although there are still sometimes sarcastic comments, or the occasional eye roll, for the most part, my life is full of supportive friends and family members that go out of their way to accommodate you. (like our friends on the farm who just went out and bought gf flour to substitute for flatbread and co-workers who are always on the look out for new gf options and they email, text or cut the clippings out of the newspaper and bring them in) Show them your love by recommending they get tested too. (your family that is, and others who you think might have it, but they don’t want to know) Parents, siblings and children of Celiacs have 1 in 22 chance of having it too. Check out this fact sheet from the University of Chicago. This is the same place I have in my resources tab that you can contact within three months of diagnosis and get an amazing gift basket for FREE! I had happy tears when it arrived, it was huge. Full of gf goodness. Samples, full size products. Cookbook. Coupons. Candy. Call them.

10. Enjoy the ride! It has been an up and down roller coaster of a ride for me, but I have tried so many new foods in the past two years. Try new things. Be adventurous. My sister is a prime example of this. She has broadened her food horizons and realized she DOES like spices and seasonings and peppers, onions, olives and mushrooms made their way into her food more often. And like me, she would now much rather pack up some fruits or veggies for a snack on the go.

More to come…

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