Want to Find the Best Gluten Free Diet for You? Read This First

When you initially receive a celiac disease diagnosis, the first question on your mind is probably something like, "What can I eat?" The answer might even seem obvious: if you have celiac disease, you can eat anything that's gluten free.

A few hours of Googling later, though, and more questions are probably jumping through your mind. Questions like: "If I have celiac disease, should I eat paleo? Vegan? Low sugar? Low processed foods, no processed foods?" And, most importantly, "How the heck should I really eat to be healthy with celiac disease?"

Want to Find the Best Gluten Free Diet for You? Read This First

Well, I'm no doctor or dietician, but four years of living with celiac disease and experimenting with several different kinds of gluten free diets has taught me a thing or two. And before we dig into what the "best" gluten free diet is, let's take a trip through time (and through my Instagram, where I've been documenting my GF eats for 4+ years) to talk about what the gluten free diet isn't.

The gluten free diet is not the same thing as...

...a paleo or grain free diet. 

There are plenty of gluten free grains you can eat on a healthy gluten free diet, ranging from rice to buckwheat to quinoa. And white potatoes? You know this celiac loves filling her plate with those!

Want to Find the Best Gluten Free Diet for You? Read This First

...a weight loss diet. 

I am gluten free. I am thin. Others are gluten free and curvy. The first fact does not necessarily cause either of the latter

...a whole foods diet.

When you've first been diagnosed, it's a smart move to keep most of your diet unprocessed. Why? First of all, it makes grocery shopping a whole lot easier - at least until you become an expert at reading food labels and looking for the "certified gluten free" stamp. Second, your body might need simple, nutritious food to heal from the intestinal damage gluten already caused. But you don't have to ditch (gluten free) granola bars, cereals or frozen dinners forever - or at all.

Want to Find the Best Gluten Free Diet for You? Read This First

...a dairy free diet. 

I've heard countless stories of uneducated restaurant staff saying a certain dish does/doesn't have gluten because it does/doesn't have milk. True, the intestinal damage seen in those with celiac disease can often trigger lactose intolerance. However, I know plenty of celiacs who not only love cheese, but cheese also loves them back. Not to mention that, as celiacs' intestines heal on a gluten free diet, many are able to re-introduce dairy. (Cue the "Reunited and it feels soooo good" chime).

...a sugar free diet. 

Some people with celiac disease or another medical reason to go gluten free might also have to watch their sugar intake. My gluten intolerant mom falls in that category. Meanwhile, I can eat my veggies and a huge GF and vegan cinnamon roll on the same day, no problem. 

Want to Find the Best Gluten Free Diet for You? Read This First

...a vegan diet. 

You can eat animal products, even if the animals have been fed wheat. Some celiacs might elect to eat a more plant based diet, and some may eat a juicy, beef burger every Friday night. 

...a "healthy" diet. 

As I've explained before, you can eat gluten on a healthy diet and you can eat unhealthy foods on a gluten free diet. Frozen pizza is a universal option, folks - and what's "unhealthy" for you may be healthy (mentally or nutritionally) for someone else. 

Want to Find the Best Gluten Free Diet for You? Read This First

The gluten free diet is...

Am I saying that all of these diets can't or shouldn't be eaten by someone with celiac disease? Of course not! You can be a gluten free vegan or a celiac who thrives on a grain free, autoimmune paleo diet. 

However, the only diet every diagnosed celiac needs to eat is one free of gluten and foods contaminated by gluten. Otherwise, the details are up to you and your body.


Since my diagnosis in May of 2013, I've eaten a meat-heavy paleo diet low in processed foods and carbs. There have been times where I was too strict with cutting out processed foods and sugars, and I've recently been experimenting with more plant-based foods. In all that time, I've learned that, for me to have a healthy body and a healthy mindset, I need a little wiggle room. Obviously, I eat 100% gluten free; I also usually try to limit my dairy and egg intake (to help with my exzema). But if I'm given a delicious, gluten free cookie that has a few ingredients I usually avoid? Just call me the Cookie Monster.

Want to Find the Best Gluten Free Diet for You? Read This First

However, I don't believe my diet is the perfect choice for every person with celiac disease. Celiac disease affects everyone differently; it has over 200 symptoms, after all! So while one celiac might thrive on eating lots of dairy and processed foods, another might feel best as a raw vegan. You do you! 

The celiac disease and gluten free community should be a place of mutual respect, support and education. To me, that means you should totally share the gluten free diet that worked for you. Who knows - maybe your experience can give a struggling celiac the guidance they desperately need. At the same time, though, you also need to respect other celiacs' choice to eat a different gluten free diet than your own.

In fact, instead of worrying about which kind of gluten free diet is "right" for celiacs, why don't we focus on something we can all agree on: wanting to live our healthiest and happiest gluten free lives with celiac disease.

Want to Find the Best Gluten Free Diet for You? Read This First

Whether you're drinking kombucha or a tall, thick milkshake, I think we can all raise our glasses to that!



What does a healthy diet look like for you? Tell me in the comments!

Comments

  1. Very helpful for those with a gluten-free diet! Love it!

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  2. I love this! All of your posts are always so informational and helpful. I think it's really important for those with Celiac to realize that just because they have to avoid gluten doesn't mean they need to necessarily switch to a certain "diet". Like you said, all they really need to do is avoid gluten and any contaminants! Obviously if they have other digestional issues as well to address then that may need to be changed but I hate when people feel they need to go paleo or vegan to be healthy. So not true [for anyone - not just Celiacs!]

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    Replies
    1. So true! Thanks for the love and thoughtful comment, Kat! <3

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