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Health & Fitness

Ask a Nutritionist: Going Gluten-Free

What to do when a buzzword becomes a necessary lifestyle change.

Navigating labels and digging through the latest health trends can get confusing–and fast. That’s why we’re talking to Dallas nutritionists and dietitians to make sense of it for you, topic by topic.

Throughout the past few years, “gluten” has become buzzword that’s often more fashionable than medically necessary. But the word carries weight for those who are working through the initial stages of a celiac disease diagnosis or a sudden sensitivity to gluten. North Dallas Nutrition‘s Karin Hosenfeld shares advice on going gluten-free – whether you have to or just want to.

What is the best advice you could give someone who has just been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? 

Think positive! Oftentimes, people focus on everything they CAN’T have. Start by surrounding yourself with what you CAN have. Pin interesting gluten-free recipes you would like to try, and follow any of the thousands of gluten-free accounts on Twitter for different ideas.

Make an effort to stay updated on celiac disease by bookmarking celiac.org and celiac.ca for excellent resources, tips, and the latest ongoing research. Remember: as discouraging as the diagnosis can be, there’s no better time in history, with all the resources out there, to be gluten-free.

What are the health benefits of eating gluten-free?

If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, the benefits of eating gluten-free will be apparent almost immediately. While you may normally have gastrointestinal abnormalities ranging from cramping to bloating to diarrhea, these symptoms will diminish within day–if not hours–by following a gluten-free diet.

How can those of us who aren’t gluten-free but understand the health benefits make little changes in our diets?

It is extremely important to get tested at your doctor’s office for a gluten sensitivity, gluten allergy and/or celiac disease before going gluten-free. Those who have celiac disease may consume no gluten at all (wheat, rye, non-gluten free oats, or barley), whereas those who have a gluten sensitivity may choose to eat gluten every once in a while. It’s important to know which you have (sensitivity vs. celiac) before restricting your diet. The rest of the population can consume gluten safely.

Karin Hosenfeld, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, founded North Dallas Nutrition in 2005.

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