You think you may have celiac disease - now what? Ask your nutritionist about an elimination diet
If you suspect that you have celiac disease, it’s important to know that there are ways of managing it. This very common disease affects approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide. In the United States alone, there are about three million people diagnosed with celiac disease.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity accounts for approximately 5% of the population.
Switching to an elimination diet under a nutritionist’s guidance is one of the best ways of managing both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. At Dietitian For All, we frequently help celiac patients as well as those affected by other digestive disorders find relief through diet and lifestyle changes. Here’s what you need to know about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, and how an elimination diet can help you:
Do you have celiac disease? Know the symptoms
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes damage in the small intestine when gluten is ingested. There are over 300 symptoms associated with this disease.
These are some of the most common symptoms that our celiac patients report:
- Bloating and abdominal pain
- Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
- Frequent diarrhea or vomiting
- Pale, fatty stool
- Bone and joint pain
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Missed menstrual periods
- Skin rashes
Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may exhibit these same symtpoms.
Next steps: ask your nutritionist about an elimination diet
Once you suspect that you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, we suggest you speak to a nutritionist about undergoing testing to investigate further. Then, you can start an elimination diet.
Here’s how it works: with an elimination diet, you completely remove foods from your diet that you suspect your body can’t tolerate. Afterward, you slowly reintroduce those foods into your diet and observe your symptoms. If the symptoms return, then you likely have an intolerance to that specific food.
However, if it’s confirmed that you do have celiac disease (through blood tests, tissue biopsy from your gastroentologist or functional tests such as a Wheat Zoomer), then your elimination diet will not include reintroduction of gluten. Long-term avoidance of gluten through an elimination diet is key for successfully managing celiac disease.
What to expect from an elimination diet for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity
When it comes to celiac disease, gluten is the trigger, so an elimination diet for celiac disease will completely eliminate foods with gluten. Your nutritionist can create a custom meal plan to ensure you’re still getting all the nutrients you need while avoiding gluten long-term.
For those with suspected non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the elimination phase usually lasts 3-6 weeks. During this time, you’ll need to avoid all foods and products that contain gluten, which includes most grains (wheat, rye, and barley), cereals, crackers, cookies, soy sauce, and more. As you eliminate these foods, observe how your body reacts. Have your symptoms improved? We suggest keeping a food journal to track your progress.
After the elimination phase, slowly reintroduce gluten back into your diet. The reintroduction phase should last 2 - 3 weeks as well. During this time, carefully observe how your body tolerates gluten.
If your symptoms have returned, then this is a strong indication that you may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Going forward, avoiding gluten will be very important in keeping your symptoms at bay. Your nutritionist can help you create a meal plan that allows you to avoid gluten while still being able to enjoy meals you like.
Speak to a nutritionist today about an elimination diet
At Dietitian For All, we offer food sensitivity testing and nutritional guidance for various conditions, including celiac disease. If you suspect you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, our nutritionist can suggest a custom elimination diet.
Contact us today to book an appointment. We are located in Stamford, CT.