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Gluten-Free Diet: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

If you have celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet is the best way to manage your disease. 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. A registered dietitian can help you change your diet to make sure you 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 healthcare provider 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. Refer to The Canadian Celiac Association for a complete list of foods that contain gluten.
  • 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. If you want to start eating oats, wait until your celiac disease symptoms are controlled, and you have been on a gluten-free diet for at least 6 months, then choose oats that are labelled "pure oats" or "gluten-free oats".
  • 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 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. Some people with Celiac disease may also have some symptoms of lactose intolerance. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about dairy products. Read ingredient labels carefully.
    • Flours and foods made with amaranth, arrowroot, beans, buckwheat, corn, cornmeal, flax, millet, potatoes, gluten-free nuts, 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.
    • For a complete list of gluten-free foods, visit The Canadian Celiac Association.

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?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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