Celiac Disease Support Group

Gluten Free Gathering

Happy Gluten-Free New Year! Oh wait, you don't know what gluten free (GF) is? Let me explain! My name is Christine Weese. I am a registered, licensed dietitian and celiac.

The concept of the Gluten Free Gathering Support Group was launched with my own personal diagnosis of celiac disease more than a decade ago. The first meeting of our support group was help a year later after my process of dealing with this diagnosis. My journey started with the confirmation diagnosis then to denial then "this must be wrong" to acceptance and where I am today! It wasn't an easy road but it helps me relate to my patients from this personal experience.

Most patients notice improvement in their symptoms after starting a strict gluten-free diet within several weeks. Depending on the villous damage, it can take a patient's intestinal tract a year or more to completely heal.

Treatment is simple: a strict gluten-free diet for life! When I was diagnosed, no alcohol or beer was permitted. Now with research and testing, grain alcohol is permitted and there is gluten-free beer available! Another old misconception is "no vinegar," this has now changed and we only need to avoid malt vinegar.

If you are not sure how to tell if something is gluten free, just read your food labels. Examples of regular products marked gluten free include: Yoplait yogurt, Nestle hot cocoa, Coffee-mate non-dairy creamer, Hellmans mayo, Stax potato chips, Chex cereal (five varieties) and Betty Crocker GF mixes, just to name a few.

Gluten-free food can be very expensive, so we tend to get creative. We also don't like to waste so that loaf of GF bread for $8 can be made into meatballs, meatloaf or bread crumbs. You can also eat unprocessed gluten-free foods such as meat, vegetables, potatoes, rice and fruit.

Need more information or not sure where to turn? Please feel free to contact me! I am always available to patients via phone, email or mail. I just need to know that someone needs assistance and I will be there to help! If I am unable to provide them direct assistance, I have many fellow celiacs who love to assist as well! There is one thing we have learned from this disease, it's great to have the support of others who know what you are going through.

So again, my wishes to you and yours for a VERY HAPPY GLUTEN-FREE NEW YEAR!

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