To cap off Celiac Awareness Month, I asked some of the leading voices in the gluten-free / celiac community this question:
“What’s the ONE BEST piece of advice you can share about celiac disease?”
Here are their responses (in no particular order), along with mine. These are trusted voices. They are enduring contributors to the cause of celiac awareness willing to share valuable information with anyone who needs it. I encourage you to read all their responses. Check out their websites and follow them on social media for continued inspiration and information.
The One Best Piece of Advice about Celiac Disease
Carol Kicinski, Simply Gluten-Free
“My number one piece of advice is don’t cheat on your gluten free diet – ever! It’s not worth it.”
Shirley Braden, gluten free easily
“As soon as you have a grasp of what gluten free really means, make a list of all the foods, products, and recipes that you already love that are gluten free and go forth by eating and enjoying them. That will keep your transition to gluten-free living from being so traumatic and will keep you from feeling deprived. As you learn more over time about gluten-free baking, other cultures’ foods that are naturally gluten-free, etc., you can happily add more foods, products, and recipes to your repertoire.”
Shirley has been gluten-free since June 2003. Her passion is educating folks on gluten issues (celiac and more) and showing how eating gluten-free can be easy if you focus on “real” foods versus processed and specialty foods. Connect with Shirley on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Amie Valpone, TheHealthyApple.com
“When it comes to being celiac, processed foods can’t hold a candle to one-ingredient foods. Food in its whole form is the healthiest version. That’s my rule of thumb, and it should be yours. The majority of what you eat should have one ingredient. What’s in cabbage? Cabbage. What’s in an orange? An orange. If most of your meals come from a box, then it’s worth rethinking your diet.
Because we live in the twenty-first century, I get that there are a fair amount of packaged convenience foods you probably won’t cut completely out of your life. If the only way to know what you’re eating is to read about it on the side of the package, though, you are, as I always say, eating sawdust.
The more a food is processed, the less of its original nutrition remains. Sure, some foods need to be heated to make them palatable and to ease digestion, but I’d rather you do more of the processing yourself, be it heating, blending, or chopping, and leave less of it to manufacturers.”
Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP, is the best-selling author of Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, a celebrity chef, motivational speaker and detox expert.
Erin Smith, Gluten Free Globetrotter
“I think my best piece of advice is to not let your diagnosis stop you from living a normal life. If I had let it stop me, I would never traveled to 20 countries and had some amazing experiences in my life. Live your life, just do it gluten-free!”
Erin was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1981 so she understands navigating a gluten-free diet in a gluten-filled world. Erin is extremely involved in the celiac community and shares her travel expertise at GlutenFreeGlobetrotter and even more info on her other blog, Gluten Free Fun. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Jane Anderson, Celiac Disease Expert at VeryWell
“The absolute best possible thing you can do for your current and future good health is to stay as meticulously gluten-free as possible. Studies show that people with celiac disease who are the most careful in following the gluten-free diet have fewer health risks. So what does “meticulously gluten-free” really mean? It means planning ahead (bringing a snack or even a meal if you aren’t sure there will be safe food where you’re going) so you aren’t tempted to take chances. It means sticking with gluten-free-labeled food items, as opposed to products with no gluten ingredients. And it means avoiding possible gluten cross-contamination like the plague. Do these things, and your body will thank you.”
Cheryl Viirand, Founder and CEO of freedible.com
“If you think gluten might be the root of your evils, make sure to consult a doctor who actually has experience with celiac disease and get tested BEFORE you go gluten-free!”
“Never be shy about advocating for your own needs, but also look for opportunities to advocate for custom eaters with food allergies, autism and other food-triggered conditions: building coalitions gives celiac disease a broader context, and in turn a broader voice!”
Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner at Root Cause Medical Clinic
“It’s tough to narrow it down to one, but from decades of experience treating patients with celiac and NCGS, my one best piece of advice would be: Don’t settle for feeling unwell.
Often, after years of struggling to find out what’s wrong, once you finally receive a celiac diagnosis you feel relief -“finally, I have the answer”. And while, inevitably, you likely did feel better upon embarking on a gluten-free diet, the improvement may have been fleeting or insufficient. In other words, you can feel better, but either the improvement doesn’t last or you continue to be plagued with symptoms not allowing you to feel your best.
There is a reason for this phenomena and it’s something I call the Secondary Effects of Gluten. Issues such as intestinal infections (typically asymptomatic, meaning you cannot feel them), cross-reactive foods (foods mimicking gluten), other food sensitivities, leaky gut, dysbiosis (abnormal balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut), hormonal imbalance, or toxins such as chronic mold, heavy metal or Lyme are typically the problems we isolate that are keeping a gluten-free celiac (or NCGS patient) less healthy than they desire.
My advice is: Don’t put up with it. Find a clinician who is a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and who is very well versed in celiac disease. It’s not difficult to address these issues and regain the health you deserve. I would be delighted to help you and am happy to offer you a FREE phone consultation – call 408-733-0400.
Dr. Vikki Petersen is author of “The Gluten Effect”, has been awarded Gluten-free Doctor of the Year and is co-founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic. Follow Dr. Vikki on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for more on getting to the root cause of your health issues.
K.C. Cornwell, G-Free Foodie
“YOU are the expert on your own health! Advocate for yourself, and work with healthcare professionals that believe what you’re saying and help you find real answers.”
Lastly, my response to my own question:
Find reliable, trusted resources you can depend on. I prefer sources like those here – individuals who have celiac disease or another health issue that makes a gluten-free diet necessity for them. That is important to me because it makes such a difference when gluten-free living stems from a medical need. We get it, we understand the challenges, and we want to help you – and each other – be successful in living a full, happy and healthy life, without gluten.
Feel free to add your trusted resources in the comments below so that we can share and learn from each other. We are all learning continuously. And remember, celiac awareness is going strong 24/7/365, so let’s keep sharing the facts!