I was just diagnosed with celiac. I'm 20 years old and freaking out a little. I'm a college student who also works and travels frequently. How is it possible to stay on a gluten-free diet when I’m rarely home? This means cooking a separate meal from the rest of my family. It's only going to get crazier when I start medical school. Please help!
Hi Amanda. Wow! It sounds like you have a very busy schedule. I can understand how you might be feeling overwhelmed with your new celiac diagnosis, but I hope I can ease your mind a little and let you know that following a gluten-free diet definitely gets easier over time.
First, if you haven’t already, make sure you check out NFCA’s excellent guide, Getting Started: Celiac Disease and The Gluten-Free Diet. It’s an extremely comprehensive resource that will hopefully put your mind at ease about your new gluten-free lifestyle. Additionally, you can share the guide with your family to help them understand how important it is to your health for you to follow a strict gluten-free diet, plus the guide provides information on avoiding cross contamination in the kitchen.
It’s also important to understand that a healthy gluten-free diet should mimic a regular healthy diet, minus the wheat, rye and barley. Of course, there are many hidden sources of gluten that you need to be aware of when eating out, but most restaurants can accommodate you with a simple gluten-free meal, such as a piece of steamed fish, fresh veggies and a baked potato.
It’s always a good idea to have “emergency” gluten-free snacks when you are travelling for those times there are simply no gluten-free meal options. I am pretty much never without my favorite gluten-free energy bars, which include Larabars, Pure Bars, Zing Bars, and Perfect Foods Bars. There are so many good one on the market these days, so be sure to sample different ones to find your own favorites.
Finally, I hope you’ll check out all the different resources available for eating on the go, including NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens, The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide by Triumph Dining, and Gluten Free Registry.
With all these resources, I have no doubt you will soon be feeling much more confident about your new gluten-free diet!
In good health,
EA Stewart, MBA, RD