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Overcoming challenges as a Celiac

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Nuala Mcbride
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Overcoming challenges as a Celiac

Nuala in the Blue Mountains

This month TNW is focussing on Celiac Disease in honour of the UK’s Celiac Disease Awareness month. It’s also something close to my heart as a celiac myself. 

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the small intestine. It is triggered by the ingestion of gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

In individuals with celiac disease, the immune system reacts to gluten by damaging the lining of the small intestine. This damage hampers the absorption of nutrients from food, leading to various symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, and weight loss.

In my years of being a celiac there are many challenges that I faced. Below I’ve wrapped up the ones that I found and still do to some extent find the hardest. 

  • Cross Contamination: This is often a little known problem for those who don’t have celiac disease. Cross contamination occurs when gluten free products come in contact with gluten (often crumbs). This can be from shared toaster, shared sieves or double dipping in sauces. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but for a celiac it can trigger symptoms. It’s also the problem of repetitive exposure to gluten; which over time can add up leading to symptoms. 
  • Cost: There is no denying this one, but gluten free products cost a lot more than their gluten filled counterparts. However, there are ways to keep the costs down, such as by using naturally gluten free products. For example, rice over gluten free pasta. But, there are some things that are unavoidable, such as gluten free bread. 
  • Speaking Up: This one took me years to build the confidence for and I still have work to do here. It’s so hard, especially in group settings at other people’s houses or when you’re out for a meal, to have to say I can’t eat that or can we change the menu or can you use a fresh chopping board. But, supportive friends / colleagues etc will understand. 
  • Being perceived as being difficult: A similar one to above, but often people don’t understand that you’re not just being difficult. It’s a lot more than actively choosing to be gluten free. And trust me you’re not being difficult!

 

How can a Nutritionist help?

Along the way on my journey I saw some Dieticians and Nutritionists, which really helped to navigate the new world. It’s something that I recommend to all celiacs to ensure they’re prioritising their health. Here are three ways a nutritionist can assist someone with celiac disease:

  • Education on Gluten-Free Diet: A nutritionist can provide detailed guidance on how to follow a strict gluten-free diet. This includes suggesting alternative gluten-free grains and products. They can also offer practical tips for dining out and travelling while maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle.
  • Nutritional Counselling: Celiac disease can sometimes lead to nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption in the damaged small intestine. A nutritionist can assess the individual’s nutritional status and develop a personalised meal plan to ensure they receive adequate nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre. 
  • Managing Symptoms and Supporting Gut Health: Nutritionists can suggest dietary strategies to manage common symptoms of celiac disease, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhoea. This may involve recommending specific dietary modifications, such as increasing fibre intake or avoiding certain types of carbohydrates that can exacerbate symptoms. Additionally, they can provide guidance on supporting gut health through probiotics or prebiotics.

 

Overall, a nutritionist plays a crucial role in helping individuals with celiac disease navigate their dietary restrictions, optimise their nutrition, and improve their overall well-being.

If you’re a celiac and looking for support, drop me an email info@thenutritiousway.net.  

 

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Hi! I'm Nuala

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