5 of the most important things I’ve learned about Celiac Disease Print

May is Celiac Awareness Month

This year, one of my children was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. To put it lightly, it’s been a steep learning curve. Between figuring out how to determine what products are safe, what restaurants are safe, and how best to manage a kitchen for our family, we’ve learned a lot.Gluten free image

Gluten-free items are often widely available, but when you are dealing with an actual diagnosis of celiac, things are a bit more complicated. Some restaurants offer “gluten friendly” options that are not actually safe for my child to eat. Cross contanimation can pop up all sorts of places, and you need to become a food detective to ensure that your choices really are free of gluten.

Thankfully, I work at Health Stand Nutrition, and have some amazing support in my office! Here are five things that have helped us navigate the first few months

  1. Attend an info night at your local Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association. Celiac 101 Information Night through the Calgary Celiac Association was a great help. *I* knew a lot, and had done quite a bit of reading around the diagnosis process, but my child with celiac and my husband found this evening really helpful. Maybe because it was someone besides me providing the information (ha!). We enjoyed some coaching on label reading, and got to ask some questions, and we all came out better informed. 
  2. Don’t try to substitute everything. Jana Spindler in our office suggested that we work on eating more rice and potato-based meals, which are naturally gluten-free meals, instead of trying to navigate some of the gluten-free options on the market. Not only do many of the gluten-free substitutes have a different texture or flavour, but they are often tricky to navigate with blood sugar needs (yes, two of my children, including the one with celiac disease also have type 1 diabetes, and many gluten-free foods are higher in carbohydrates than their “regular” counterparts). Sticking to familiar meals that aren’t trying to replicate foods that are now on the “no” list has helped with the mental shift as well. We are trying out some new items, and some home baking, but knowing we have familiar foods in our wheelhouse is helping a lot.
  3. Deb Lounsbury, who is our office Celiac expert, has been a wealth of knowledge and “been there, done that” for me. One of the most simple pieces of advice she gave me is to use squeezable bottles for condiments. Seriously, #mindblown. This helped me greatly reduce the risk of cross-contamination in our kitchen, and is such a simple shift in what I purchase. We’ve also added notes in sharpie and/or tape on some of our non-squeezable containers to help us all have the safest kitchen.
  4. Get some support. Odds are, you have at least one friend or family member in your life who also has celiac disease. One of my dear friends also has a similar-aged child with celiac disease. She may live a province away, but she is always just a text message away. This has been helpful for suggestions on which iron supplement her child tolerated, or how they arranged some parts of their kitchen, or to commiserate over near-misses with adding an ingredient that is no longer safe (true story!) There are also online groups on Facebook, or in person meetups you can find in many communities to find support and encouragement. Knowing others are navigating the same concerns is really helpful.
  5. Give yourself some grace. This was actually advice from the specialist that diagnosed my child. It was very encouraging to hear this doctor remind us that we may make mistakes, and not to panic. This has been allowing us to breathe through the process of making our home safe, and learning how to share knowledge, advocate for, and feed our child.

 

If you, or a family member, has celiac disease, these tips may help you. Or, you may find working with a registered dietitian can help you navigate the learning curves and struggles of celiac. CONTACT US to set up an appointment. 

 

Kristin Stringer

Kristin previously provided administrative support for Health Stand Nutrition.

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

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I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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