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Gluten-Free Diet: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

To help your symptoms, your doctor has recommended a gluten-free diet. This means not eating foods that have gluten in them. Gluten is a kind of protein. It's found in wheat, barley, and rye.

If you eat a gluten-free diet, you can help manage your symptoms and prevent long-term problems. You can also get all the nutrition you need.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Don't eat any foods that have gluten in them. These include bagels, bread, crackers, and some cereals. They also include pasta and pizza.
  • Carefully read food labels. Look for wheat or wheat products in ice cream and candy. You may also find them in salad dressing, canned and frozen soups and vegetables, and other processed foods.
  • Avoid all beer products unless the label says they are gluten-free. Beers with and without alcohol have gluten unless the labels say they are gluten-free. This includes lagers, ales, and stouts.
  • Avoid oats, at least at first. Oats may cause symptoms in some people. They may be contaminated with wheat, barley, or rye during processing. But many people who have celiac disease can eat moderate amounts of oats without having symptoms. Health professionals vary in their long-term recommendations regarding eating foods with oats. But most agree it is safe to eat oats labelled as gluten-free.
  • When you eat out, look for restaurants that serve gluten-free food. You can also ask if the chef is familiar with gluten-free cooking.
  • Try to learn more about gluten-free options. Find grocery stores that sell gluten-free pizza and other foods. If you have access to the Internet, look online for gluten-free foods and recipes.
  • On a gluten-free eating plan, it's okay to have:
    • Eggs and dairy products. (But some dairy products may make your symptoms worse. Ask your doctor if you have questions about dairy products. Read ingredient labels carefully. Some processed cheeses contain gluten.)
    • Flours and foods made with amaranth, arrowroot, beans, buckwheat, corn, cornmeal, flax, millet, potatoes, gluten-free nut and oat bran, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soybeans, tapioca, or teff.
    • Fresh, frozen, or canned unprocessed meats. But avoid processed meats. Some examples of processed meats to avoid are hot dogs, salami, and deli meat. Read labels for additives that may contain gluten.
    • Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits and vegetables, if they do not have thickeners or other additives that contain gluten.
    • Some alcohol drinks. These include wine, liqueurs, and ciders. They also include liquor like whiskey and brandy.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have unexplained weight loss.
  • You have diarrhea that lasts longer than 1 to 2 weeks.
  • You have unusual fatigue or mood changes, especially if these last more than a week and are not related to any other illness, such as the flu.
  • Your symptoms come back again.
  • Your stomach pain gets worse.

Where can you learn more?

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