If you know or love someone with celiac disease, you might be wondering about the celiac disease diet – or what they can eat that won’t make them sick.
The celiac disease diet is essentially a gluten-free diet. Celiacs must remove gluten – even little crumbs of gluten – from their diet. Gluten is found in things like wheat, barley and rye, as well as a slew of other ingredients that may be derived from wheat. (Download: 100 Alternative Names for Gluten)
Celiac disease afflicts 1 in 133 people in the U.S., but many people with celiac disease remain undiagnosed. Celiac disease is most detected in people with digestive distress (severe bloating and gas), but the disease is far from only a digestive disorder. People who experience joint pain, migraines, skin issues, chronic fatigue and even depression are often dealing with undiagnosed celiac disease. (Read: 8 Roaring Symptoms of Celiac Disease and 30 Tell-Tale Signs You Have Celiac Disease)
Before I share more about the celiac disease diet, I want to first disclose that this post contains affiliate links to the products I recommend and talk about. All opinions are my own.
What’s Included in the Celiac Disease Diet?
The celiac disease diet includes any foods that are gluten-free. Think fresh, whole and foods that are naturally gluten-free. The celiac disease diet should include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Organic meats
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy products – like yogurt, milk and cheese
- Gluten-free whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa
- Organic, pasture-raised eggs
- Fish – especially wild caught fatty fish like salmon
You can view my complete list of Naturally Gluten-Free Foods here. These are foods that every celiac should be eating to maintain good health.
Of course, people with celiac disease can also eat sweets and desserts, after all, sugar and chocolate are naturally gluten-free too.
That said, desserts can be tricky for someone with celiac disease, as gluten-free flours bake different than wheat flour. Experimentation is necessary in order to find the right taste and texture in baked goods. There are many awesome gluten-free flour blends on the market today that measure just like regular flour. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour or Cup 4 Cup Gluten-Free Baking Flour – you can use your regular cake recipe and just swap wheat flour for one of these one-for-one substitutes.
You must take great care to prepare gluten-free desserts for someone with celiac disease. For example, if you are going to prepare a gluten-free dessert for your celiac friend, be sure to wash all bowls and utensils that may have come in contact with gluten at some point. Avoid using your mixer, whisks and cupcake pans, as gluten bits are often stuck in the crevices of those devices and utensils. (Read more about cross contamination here.)
What About Gluten-Free Packaged Food?
You may have noticed that I didn’t list gluten-free packaged food as foods safe for those on the celiac disease diet. However, gluten-free packaged foods are, of course, gluten-free, and they have their place in a celiac’s diet. I enjoy gluten-free crackers, baking mixes and snack foods like the rest of you, but I do try to limit my packaged food exposure as much as possible. Packaged foods are notorious for having excessive flours, starches, sugars and artificial ingredients – all that can sabotage a celiac’s already compromised health.
That said, we all need gluten-free bread crumbs and tamari sauce to round out our gluten-free recipes. I’ve created a list of many of the gluten-free packaged foods I have tried and recommend in this list of Gluten-Free Recommended Products.
If you’re new to celiac disease and want to try new gluten-free foods without wasting a lot of money, I encourage you to sign up for the gluten-free Urthbox subscription. Urthbox will send you a box of gluten-free goodies each month so you can explore different brands and learn about new gluten-free packaged foods. I encourage you to read my review of Urthbox … and if you want to sign-up, click here for a $10 off coupon in your shopping cart.
What Happens If a Celiac Eats Gluten?
Every celiac has a different response or reaction to accidental gluten ingestion. While internally the gluten will damage a celiac’s small intestine, externally your friend might have to throw up or urgently use the bathroom. Your friend might also have effects like a rash, red bumps, acne, headaches or joint pain. Every celiac is different and reacts in a different way. Symptoms can appear right away, or for me, my symptoms appear about an hour after getting glutened.
Eating gluten can really set back a celiac on their journey to heal.
Celiacs do not go into anaphylactic shock as celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy. It’s often why celiacs aren’t taken as seriously as someone who might have an allergic reaction to a food – as their reaction isn’t always visible immediately.
Healing Foods Perfect for the Celiac Disease Diet
Going gluten-free is only part of the process; celiacs must also work hard to heal their bodies. The first step is, of course, removing irritants from their diet – like gluten (mandatory) and then even limiting pro-inflammatory foods like sugar and/or dairy. Celiacs also must work hard to put good stuff back in their bodies, perhaps through healing bone broths, antioxidant rich green juices and a high quality probiotic and fish oil supplement (to control inflammation).
If you suffer from celiac disease, I encourage you to sign up for the Heal Your Gut Challenge to accelerate your healing process.
- How to Host Your Gluten-Free Friend for Dinner
- The Truth About Green Juicing
- How to Fix Your Gluten-Free Diet Checklist
- 30 Tell-Tale Signs that You Have Celiac Disease
- 12 Myths and Lies about Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Diet
- The Path to a Celiac Disease Diagnosis