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The First Step in Accepting a Gluten-free Diet

Finding out that you have to eat differently than you have your entire life can come as a complete shock. Receiving a diagnosis of Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or sensitivity and being told that you can no longer eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, may seem overwhelming, confusing, frustrating, and impossible at first. This can especially be true if you are not accustomed to reading labels, if you eat out often, or you eat a lot of already prepared food. You may be thinking, “I just can’t do this, it’s too hard.” Maybe you even went home from the Doctor’s office to look in your cupboards and fridge, only to find them full of gluten filled items!

At first, you may feel like you’re all alone in making these lifestyle changes and even getting started may seem overwhelming.  However, many people have this initial experience as a multitude of the products we eat in the U.S. are filled with gluten…including Soy Sauce!  However, Celiac disease is much more common than once thought to be.  According to a study completed in 2003 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine,1/133 people have Celiac disease.  When you sit down and actually take that in, it’s actually a pretty high number, and that doesn’t include other people who have gluten intolerance, sensitivities or even a wheat allergy. 

So, sit down and take a few moments to gather your bearings, take a deep breath, and remember that change doesn’t  happen overnight. You will not be completely gluten free the day you are told this is the change you must make, and expecting to get it all down perfect in the first day, week, month, or possibly even year is only going to cause added stress, anxiety and frustration. Once you recognize this, you can give yourself the patience, flexibility, and time needed to make the necessary changes to maintain your health and your new diet. 

Author Information: Jennifer Leeson, Denver, CO
Denver Gluten-free Examiner at
Jennifer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an expert on changing negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. After being diagnosed with Celiac Disease last October, she learned there was more to transforming her life around food beyond knowing what to eat and what not to eat. There were unexpected social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that arose. Since learning how to cope with these obstacles herself, she has begun teaching others how to cope effectively with the barriers that interfere with successfully changing one’s entire lifestyle around food. You can reach Jennifer at her e-mail address.

About Jennifer Slack

Jennifer Slack

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