how to live gluten-free

In a few weeks, it will be six years since I started this website.

Six years! Folks, I can’t believe it. This past Friday, I flew down to San Francisco and back the same day, to speak at Google headquarters about the need for increased awareness about celiac and gluten sensitivity in this culture, in honor of National Celiac Awareness Month in May. (Google! That place is a splash of color and crazy little details. I sat in a ball pit during a tour of the buildings. There were men in shorts playing volleyball in the middle of the day. One room had a lot of Astroturf, a giant play structure with swings, two people having a big meeting at the picnic bench, and an enormous statue of the Incredible Hulk. These are the people changing our world.) In the early evening, I had dinner at Contigo with good friends whom I met through this site because they write blogs I love. As we were finishing our almond cake for dessert, a lovely woman slid into the booth and sat beside me. “Are you Shauna?” she asked me. Turns out she reads this site all the time and recognized me at the table next to hers. (And hi! Thanks for stopping to tell me what this place means to you. I hope you had a good meal.)

I flew home the same night, then woke up early the next morning to attend Penny de los Santos’ workshop at Creative Live. I have a feeling that a number of you were watching on the internet because I heard from you on Twitter. I was flabbergasted to be one of the six students chosen to be there in person, to watch Penny shoot food, talk about her experiences in the world capturing glimpses of culture through her lens, and to have the wonderful pressure of shooting photos of food in front of her and the 200,000 people watching online. I’m lucky enough to call Penny a friend, and I adore her, but I still wasn’t prepared for how deeply this would affect me. (Penny too, it turns out.) All day today I felt jangly, raw nerve endings like the ragged edges of a strong rope. This weekend changed me, again.

Life can change, powerfully, in six years.

Because my career is writing here and in books, talking with people about writing and food and how to live gluten-free, I sometimes forget the days when I ate gluten. Honestly, the desire for a crusty baguette or my mother’s holiday cookies has faded away. To me, anything with gluten looks like it contains Drano. No thanks. I’ve never felt more alive, more impassioned, or more surprised by life than I have since I quit eating gluten. For me, it’s muscle memory to avoid it, like the rhythm in my hands when I pick up a knife to chop up a pile of fresh herbs. I don’t think about it anymore. I just do it.

However, recently, my wonderful friend Christi discovered she has to be gluten-free. Christi is all wisecracks and loving comments. She’s the mother of three young boys, whom Lu loves. She’s full of compassion and wisdom and funny-as-hell stories. Christi’s cool. As well, after the birth of her first boy, she never regained her energy, suffered from bodily complaints, struggled with anxiety. As I felt when I was diagnosed, she was elated to have the story of her life in full form. However, she was also overwhelmed. Where to begin?

I felt that too. It took me three hours to make my way around the grocery store for my first shopping trip. I remember how excited I was to find gluten-free pretzels at the Fred Meyer. Ta da! I wouldn’t starve while traveling. I ate a lot of bad cakes and breads just to prove to myself that I wouldn’t have to give up cake and bread.

Those first few months, I was scared, overwhelmed, elated at my new-found health, and kind of pissed.

That’s why I started writing. I wanted other people to not have to go through the confusion I found when I read the internet for answers.

One of you reading — if not more of you — is in that state right now.

For you, for Christi, and for National Celiac Awareness Month, we’re going to do some small pieces here for the next two weeks: how to deal with being gluten-free.

Let’s begin.

You’ve just been diagnosed with celiac, or gluten sensitivity, or you’ve figured out through process of elimination that gluten does you no good. What do you do first?

1. Say yes.

Why yes? Why not a string of expletives or sobs? Say yes because this is what is. You might like to change it, but your body cannot tolerate gluten. You could pretend it isn’t true because you are so loath to give up the life you are living (is it really that great, that life, when you feel so rotten? are those grocery store hamburger buns worth that?). You could cheat when you’re in social situations, feel like crap for days, and go back to being “good” after you have recovered. You could ignore all this because you just don’t want to deal with it.

Say yes instead.

This is your life. This is your body. This is your new reality. If you wake up and decide you’re going to love it (you have no idea how much better you are going to feel without the gluten), then you will.

Accept it. Shout about it with those string of expletives if you want. Allow yourself to grieve. But do that all with clear eyes. This is your life. Accept it.

2. Focus first on the foods that are naturally gluten-free.

See  that sweet potato up there? No gluten in there. There’s also no gluten in a rib-eye steak, a peach in season, a raw kale salad with pine nuts and golden raisins, a square of good dark chocolate, roasted chicken, soft mango slices that slither down your throat, carnitas for tacos with homemade guacamole, a steaming bowl of pho, yellow lentil waat, spring rolls with Thai basil and marinated pork, mashed potatoes, crunchy cornichons, lamb kebabs with sumac and lemon zest, hummus with smoked paprika and garlic, spring vegetable soup, poached eggs on asparagus, or smoked salt caramel ice cream.

You will not go hungry. I promise.

It’s natural to focus first on what you cannot eat. It’s a human tendency. You can see it around you, constantly. However, don’t do that.

Focus first on what you can eat. I promise you — everything will be better for this.

(It’s true of the rest of your life too, but I’ll leave that to you to figure out.)

So much of the food you already love is naturally gluten-free. Focus on that. Eat well.

3. It all comes down to cooking.

If you already love standing in front of the stove, listening to the sizzle of onions in the skillet and the whoosh of steam that escapes when you add chicken broth and pomegranate molasses, you’re going to be fine. There will be a little shock, at first, as you realize some of your favorite ingredients have gluten in them, but you’ll adjust quickly.

(Soy sauce, people. This is the first surprise for so many folks. Soy sauce has wheat in it. However, some types of tamari are wheat free. And guess what? They taste far more nuanced and complex than grocery-store soy sauce anyway.)

If you don’t already love cooking, I have one piece of advice for you: learn to love cooking.

Cooking is your path to healing. It will be hard, at first, for other people to cook for you, mostly because they won’t know the little places where cross-contamination happens, like their beloved wooden cutting board, or the rolling pin they inherited from their grandmother. Eventually, when you feel strong and comfortable advocating for yourself, you can give your friends a list of specific guidelines. But for now, you’re going to want to cook your own food. Restaurants might be easier than you think, but you have to know how to order and how to ask the hard questions of servers and chefs (we’ll tell you about this in a blog post soon). Honestly, you want to start cooking.

4. You’ll find your rhythm.

Even if you are wobbly at the stove or awkward at chopping or feel annoyed or pressured to be perfect when you cook? Give it time. You’ll find it.

Cooking is connection. It’s not about impressing. It’s about pausing from the chopping to lean your head down toward the board and breathe in the released smell of fresh cilantro. (If you don’t like cilantro, make it basil.) Cooking is about concentrating with an intent focus on something that’s in your hands and your heart, instead of your head. You can slip the day from your shoulders when you cook. You can let it all go. Start slicing the garlic.

If you feel like you don’t have time to cook, because your life is so busy (and believe me, we know busy), take a step back.

Eating great food that you know is gluten-free is your path to healing. Cooking for yourself or your hilarious friends or your kids is a gift you give. Sitting at the table with people is where the stories emerge, the relaxation takes place, the memories are formed. Why don’t you have time for this?

Your entire life is going to change because of this. You might as well allow it to happen fully. Arrange your life differently so you have a little time in the evening to cook.

You don’t want to miss this.

5. It’s going to be messy at times.

You’re going to have moments when you’re raw with anger that the only place to eat on that road trip with your friends is a gas station in the middle of bleak nowhere and they have nothing to eat that’s gluten-free. Nothing. And you’re hungry, and you feel isolated, and you really are tempted to crack open a bag of those inedible tiny crackers filled with salty processed cheese product.

Don’t do it. Don’t cheat.

Feel it instead. Let yourself feel lousy. (Next time, pack better snacks.)

If you ever feel like this, read this kick-ass honest post by our friend Carol. She is not a complainer. In fact, she’d be the first one to flip the bird at anyone whining too much or being all touchy-feely about their pain. But she’s human, and she’s like us: sometimes you’ve just had enough.

It’s okay to have a tantrum once in awhile. And then you move through it and go back to good food.

Expect it to not be all pretty pictures of perfectly composed food. There will be nights you come home late and you don’t have anything left in the refrigerator and you can’t order a pizza and you’re left eating popcorn for dinner. (If you do, try popping it in coconut oil with lime zest, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh cilantro, and Maldon salt. You can thank me later.)

There will be times when, in spite of all your best efforts, you will get some cross-contamination. And, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to feel it within 5 minutes with a headache like a bullet through the head, stomach pains a few moments later that make you feel doubled over in your seat, and then an entire night in the bathroom. Expect to spend the next day in the bathroom, repeatedly. And by the third day, you might be depressed and anxious and as bleak as a young woman in her early 20s who’s convinced that one has to suffer to produce true art.

It’s not pretty.

(Did you know that 90% of the serotonin produced in our bodies is made in our intestines? If something is wrong in your gut, something is wrong in your mind.)

Let it be messy and raw and annoying as hell. There might be months, eventually, that you go without thinking about gluten, or you revel in your new baking skills, or you realize what a gift this all is because you feel well for the first time in your life.

And then there will be this horrible, no-good, terrible day in which you just want to poke out the eyes of someone who doesn’t get the gluten-free thing and asks, “Wait, you don’t want to eat glue?” Or that arrogant waiter who brought your salad with breadcrumbs in it because he didn’t believe you were really going to be sick. Isn’t gluten-free just some celebrity diet fad? Whatever. You’re going to want to kneecap him.

Take a deep breath. It will pass.

If you expect it to be messy instead of all sweetness and light, you’ll have a sense of humor about this. Believe me, you’ll need that too.

6. Find your community.

You need people on your side. When is that not true? Well, it’s especially true right now.

Danny (the chef of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef) supports me in this. He cooks great food with me. He thinks up recipes, dices and styles the food for these photographs, and cheers me on through every step of this process. And early on, he decided he didn’t need to live in a home with gluten. There’s not a bit of it here.

I hear from some of you here, wondering how to make it work in a kitchen covered in crumbs and stocked with gluten cereals pasta breads and everything else you think your kids need. Or your husband. Or wife. How about you convince them instead to take care of you? Try making the house gluten-free for a week. (Practice your best dishes without gluten first.) No one is going to die without gluten. That way you won’t have to worry about cross contamination.

(I met a young woman with celiac at Google. Her first two months there she ate at all the cafes, the havens of free food that dot every part of the campus. In those two months, she lost 12 pounds, and she didn’t have 12 pounds to lose. She and her doctor at the Stanford Celiac Center realized that she was getting so much cross-contamination in those foods that could have been gluten-free that she was putting her life in danger. Don’t play with this, people.)

You need even more community. You need friends who understand this, families who support you, and good people who let you cry on their shoulder when your relative says, “Oh come on, it’s just a little flour. What harm could it do?”

There are support groups in your area. Chat rooms. Forums. Conversations on Twitter. Questions on our Facebook page. Find them. Seek out people.

You’re not alone in this.

And you know what? It’s going to grow so much better. You won’t believe how good you’re going to feel soon.

Go ahead. Say yes.

We love this community here. We’d love to hear from you. What advice would you give to people who are newly gluten-free? Leave a comment with as many specific suggestions as you please.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO WEDGES WITH CILANTRO AND LIME

One of the joys of cooking is that it doesn’t have to be complicated to be good.

If you are just starting out, focus on simple dishes first. Everyone will be happy with this one.

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Slice the sweet potatoes into wedges (or thick rounds, if you like). Danny likes to peel them. I don’t. You decide.

Put the sweet potatoes into a large bowl. Drizzle them in a little oil, some salt, pepper, a spice like smoked paprika.

I throw the cilantro in here. Danny likes to save it for the end so it’s fresh. You decide.

Put the sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet and bake until the edges are crisp and the middle tender, about 20 minutes in our oven.

Drizzle fresh lime juice and some fresh cilantro over the top. Done.

 

 

137 comments on “how to live gluten-free

  1. Irvin

    I love this post. I’m not gluten free or celiac, but you strike a nerve in that fear of being denied something, whether it’s food or something else. Everyone is focuses on what you can’t eat. Not what you CAN eat. People need to hear that. There is SO much out there that you can eat, no matter what your dietary restrictions are.

    Also, that photo of Danny smelling the cilantro is awesome. I love the smell of cilantro.

    Also, I love that we are friends because of your blog. Love. It. I can’t wait to see where the next six years take you and your blog. So amazing. Happy blogiversary. Or is it blogaversary? I’m not so good with the made up words. I never make them up.. ;)

  2. Kathleen

    Great post. It is overwhelming at first, indeed… and sometimes that string of expletives does help!

    Advice?
    Always carry snacks. More than you think you need. I try not to leave my house, even for quick trip out without grabbing my little insulated food bag. I throw in a banana, an apple and some almonds. Sometimes blue ice and yogurt. Then I don’t have to give up my impulse errands or last minute movie invites… and I can avoid the whole sobbing in the isle of the convenience store scenario. =)

  3. Maura van der Linden

    It was really cool to see you in Penny’s class, Shauna. Your site is one of the first I latched onto when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease almost a year ago.

    I wanted to pass along a tip for work — at least in some situations. Because I’m extremely reactive (like you) and will have an ugly and violent reaction to even very trace amounts of gluten and was in a shared office at work, I was able to get a medical exemption with a note from my doctor that allowed me to have a small refrigerator (dorm fridge, basically) in my office and ban outside food from my office. I keep an assortment of snacks and treats in it and bring lunches as needed.

    I also recommend educating your co-workers in a gentle way. Most of the time they just don’t understand. My co-workers take care to ensure I can eat at whatever restaurant is chosen for a team lunch and when they bring treats in, they check them for gluten before even offering them and everyone is careful not to bring gluten food around my desk to avoid potential contamination issues. It really helps that they try to watch out for me, too.

    Thank you for all the hard work and education you’ve given me, especially when I was first diagnosed and here’s to more years of this great blog!

    - Maura

  4. AmandaonMaui

    What a wonderful post! You’re absolutely right on all counts. I definitely agree that people need to learn to love cooking, and to learn to love food all over again. I had no real relationship with food before going gluten free, but now I have respect for all of the ingredients I use.

    Having people who understand is really important as well. I’m so happy to have a partner who is so understanding. While he’s not a cook at all (he turns frozen muffins to black powder) he makes sure I get the safest food as often as possible. And, if I get sick he takes such good care of me.

  5. Amy West

    Thank you for sharing this.
    I am new to this journey.
    It was by coincidence ( or I like to call it Divine Intervention) that I discovered my son has a sensitivity to wheat that causes ADHD Symptoms.
    He is 7 and has had problems since he was 2.
    It has been about a month now that we have been working on this.

    I just came to the point the other day that I was celebrating the yes’s. Especially the yes’s that kids like. Yes to ice cream and strawberries, to orange juice and mixed nuts and ham and cheese and .…. candy! lol
    I think I am taking it harder than he is. ( i guess cuz i buy it, prepare it, pack his lunch.…)
    And it was hard because i have been so food conscious for him– whole grain, fruits and veggies, supplements, vitamins and minerals , no dye, preservatives, MSG, etc. I thought i was doing so well!

    Something I would like to learn is what to start with when cooking from scratch.
    I have made a few things with corn flour ( like chicken nuggets, yay!) but I am so intimidated by xanthan gum and amaranth flour and quinoa and buckwheat and potato starch or flour and .….
    Part of the intimidation I think is what if it is gross, i just spent a lot of $$. I hate waste!
    And then there are the prepared (expensive) foods. We have found a few things that are acceptable (like pasta) but some that are gross (tortillas and crackers).

    sorry if that is all over the place. My mind is racing!

    Thanks so much for starting this series. I look forward to the next entry!

    1. Rebecca

      My 7-year-old has been gluten-free since he was 1. I just now bought my first tapioca flour, potato starch etc, and haven’t even tried it yet! That all was overwhelming to me, too, especially since I was so hooked on my whole wheat bread and didn’t want the disappointment of having something taste so different. I found it easier to focus on foods that had nothing to do with flour of any kind: whole foods like fruits, veggies, rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, yams, and meat (my favorite is chicken baked with a glaze of butter or coconut oil, mustard, and honey!). I’m becoming more convinced that whole, unprocessed foods are far superior to even whole grain flours.

      I hear you on the “I thought we were doing so well!” I’m super health-conscious, and it’s still been a roller coaster of finding different allergies and dealing with the random rashes that will pop up out of the blue… Perhaps that’s just why my son was given to me and no one else (divine!).

      P.S. I’ve been gluten-free myself now for only about a month… And I feel fantastic!!! My symptoms were way different than my son’s, so it took me a while to make the connection as to what was causing it all.

  6. Jenn

    Beautiful, Shauna — I agree with everything, especially loving to cook — and will be making those potatoes tonight!

  7. Michele

    Beautiful post!
    I was just the other day totally put down for being gluten free by the head waitress at our local cafe. Apparently I had ‘a nerve’ complaining about being served what amounted to cold sick on toast. It seems that my gluten freedom means I do not possess the right to eat well. Or that is at least what she said the chef said! He also mentioned how unhappy he was to cook gluten free food. I said that I could tell.

    Anyway .… to come here and read this has made me feel so much better and reaffirmed my right and need to eat well. You make me happy to be gluten free!

  8. Jana

    We literally just made the decision to go gf/df. None of us seems to have sensitivity but my son is struggling with some delays, some of which are indicative of the autism spectrum of disorders. We were encouraged by his OT and Speech Path to try anything that could be helpful, so here we are. This past weekend we packaged up all our gluten containing items (including the soy sauce!) and donated it. We are already clean eaters and very serious about our health so although it is a little overwhelming I am confident that once we get used to it, it will be second nature. I am not sure, however, how to convey the extreme importance that our family members respect our kids diets and do not allow them to/feed them food that is off limits. I am so grateful this have found this site, as well as other dedicated GF blogs. Thanks so much!

    1. Rebecca

      I encourage you to be strict with the family members! I wasn’t, and allowed too many “just this once” exceptions, and my son actually became really sick. He became allergic to more and more things, and started losing weight (he’s already a skinny 7-year-old), until I read about leaky gut and found someone who could treat him for it. He’s doing much better now, and I have learned to be much more strict with the uncles and grandparents.

  9. Just Jenn

    Looking back on my first decade of being gluten free now, I can honestly and whole heartedly agree with you that I don’t miss it one single bit. I feel so much better and know I always will. Your post here is so poignant, heartfelt and inspiring. I plan on sharing it with as many people as I can. Thank you for eloquently voicing what so many struggle to express and so many others desperately need to hear.

  10. nicolette @ momnivore's dilemma

    Adored this post. I will come back to it from time to time…

    For those newly diagnosed, I suggest a few things.

    1.) Work on healing the gut. After I learned I couldn’t eat gluten, I started eating a ton of corn and eggs. Guess which foods my body attacked next? Practice moderation with your replacement when pulling gluten out.
    1.5) A 72 hour rotation diet would be a smart move.
    2.) Incorporate lots of good and healthy fats to help seal your gut: ghee, coconut oil, avocado, etc.
    3.) Learn to live without processed foodstuffs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been “glutened“
    4.) Read food, raw, gf, and health blogs. Start one of your own.

    1. TH

      Wait! I’m just starting to warm up to the idea of living GF.… Now I have to worry about my body attacking other foods, like corn? Also, can you explain what you mean by a 72– hour rotation diet? I’m new & so confused by all this. Thanks!!!

  11. Angel Cutsforth

    Hi Shauna,

    My mum was diagnosed about 2 years ago now, she still eats the crappy gluten free cakes and bread because she can’t give up the illusion she is normal. I was Gluten free for three months until last month (my doctor want’s to test me for Celiac after three years of suffering) and I had a breakdown but the opposite way. The pain and crappiness that I’m feeling every day caused me to cry… it’s not worth the pain to cheat. It’s hardly worth the pain to get a diagnosis, but I want to know if it is celiac or if it’s just an intolerance.

    Anyway, my tip for newly diagnosed is to compare how you feel off of gluten to on gluten. The cheating just isn’t worth it when you get the stabbing pains, or the bloating or the pain.

    Angel

  12. gloutsis

    This post is perfect timing for me! I would walk through the food aisles at the store and would take mental note of everything I could NOT eat. Always trying to find gluten free foods that would simulate the way I would eat instead of embracing change. I broke and tested myself a few weeks ago after 9 months of no gluten. I was sick for a whole week. I became completely dehydrated. During that time I spent hours on the internet researching how to embrace the change. I made menus for the next 2 months, cooked for a whole weekend to make myself my own frozen dinners, got my family to make big changes, and went shopping for the first time with a new awareness of seeing all the food I can eat.

    I went thought the long period of time feeling stupid that I was angry that I couldn’t feel “normal” and just pick up anything to eat when I was hungry. I was sick of explaining to people that I could not eat the food they were serving. I can’t eat egg or dairy either because of so much damage. I work 50 to 70 hours a week and have 3 kids and a husband at home that could and would eat anything. Cooking separate meals was tedious and I would be starving before I could sit down to eat. NOW… we all eat fresh gluten free dinners, we are 80% dairy free, and my husband makes the food that contains gluten. I found great dairy substitute and plan to try duck eggs. I have downloaded pages of recipes and joined blogs “liked” Gluten Free Girl. I will not slide back and test again…I would rather embrace the change and feel alive!

    Having a plan is the key! Plan your shopping, plan your meals, plan to eat a variety of foods, and plan to use different herbs and seasoning.

  13. Valerie

    I cried when reading this post. The worst part of going gluten free are the people who say, I’m sure you are just making this up or I bet it is yeast or in your mind. I tested negative for celiac. I tested 6 months after I gave up gluten. I need to get to the point where I can walk away from gluten treats. I hear, oh one bit will not kill you or come on everyone else is eating it. Then one to two days later, I’m sick. I hear now, when are you going to learn. I know I feel better eating gluten free and gluten free products. Every post you write helps me to make one small step to a healthier, gluten free lifestyle. thank you.

  14. Joan

    OH, I know the anger, I know the cross contamination, and I know the overdoing one food to compensate for the lack of gluten!!! I’m now intolerant of corn and dairy I’m trying to eat “clean” right now, just eating what the good Lord lets grow in the form of fruit, veggies, and poultry and fish. I can tolerate goat cheese thank goodness , I just have to be careful I dont’ overdo it. It’s all about being a foodie now! Thank You for this post, I needed a shot in the arm!

  15. Catherine

    The comment about the bleak, artistic 20 something girl made me laugh out loud. Such a good visual. I’m right up there with Valerie. I tested negative for celiac and they couldn’t tell me why I had diarrhea all the time. I can’t remember now, but must have read something about gluten and decided to give it a try. It’s amazing how the diarrhea went away. If I do get into something with gluten it takes until the next day to hit me so I have the illusion that maybe I’m “OK”. I did have one doctor actually tell me that “well, you must be gluten sensitive”. She was the first one not to just dismiss it.
    I just hope one day that gluten free breads, etc. won’t be so darned expensive!!
    Also, the info about serotonin was particularly interesting. I haven’t been as prone to depressive moments. Pretty darn interesting! You and Danny are the best. Thanks!

    1. Jenna

      I am like so many people here.. and Catherine especially… I had the horrible “d” word to a horrible degree and I couldn’t lose weight. A good friend of mine had discovered that she had celiac and needed to go gluten-free and encouraged me to see if ditching it made any difference. I was stunned at how quickly my insides began to feel better.

      This one was one of the first blogs that I came across when I began to search for ways to start eating better. The processed foods, as so many of us can attest, are a hit and miss mix with ALOT of misses.

      I have always loved to cook, but I find even more joy in it now knowing that I am healing my body as I feed it.

      I love the focus on saying yes. I am saying yes to so many new ingredients and the food I make tastes so much better. AND, I am discovering tastes that I would never have otherwise. For anyone who is new to this out, take a deep breath, scream if you need to and start embracing the amazing variety of food, flavors and adventures that you can discover in the kitchen.

  16. Celia

    Thank you, thank you for this post. I’m going to link to it later this week, since you say it so much better than I ever could. I’m not celiac, but I am by necessity gluten-free. I am so lucky to have a family that cares enough to be super careful about cross-contamination because I’m so sensitive. (I can tell. It usually takes an hour, but it’s there.) I get so frustrated, though, when people don’t take me seriously or they think it’s some sort of fad diet. Or when they think that cross-contamination isn’t an issue. I almost had a party the day I scrubbed out all my shelves and threw out my old wooden cutting boards. I felt like I was getting rid of poison. Life is so much better now, even without that baguette I used to love. Oh, and re: the emergency snack issue… Been there. I remember to pack food everywhere I go now.

  17. Heda

    I’ve been gluten free for ages but I still remember the taste of fresh light rye bread or soft tangy sourdough or a slice of pizza or hot naan cooked in a tandoori oven and running with butter and garlic. I live very well as a coeliac and I never want to go back to eating gluten but I also never want to forget that I once could eat gluten. I’m eternally grateful for what I had as opposed to grieving what I lost and that’s a good place for me to be in especially as the majority of the rest of the world’s population is still in that position.

  18. Heather

    Great post! For an international audience, I’d also recommend that newly diagnosed people become familiar with food labeling laws in their country. In Canada, for example, certain ingredients are currently exempt from food labeling requirements. “Component ingredients,” for example, do not need to be listed, which means that “soy sauce,” “spices,” “seasoning” and other complex ingredients may be listed without their component parts — which often include wheat, flour, etc. Unless gluten-free consumers are willing to call manufacturers and ask about component ingredients, it’s a good idea to avoid anything with mystery listings. Amendments are in the works, which will require gluten (as well as the top ten most common allergens) to be clearly labelled wherever present; however, it will be several years before those amendments are fully enacted in Canada. Cheers!

  19. Kristen Tonks

    I love your website. You are a beautiful writer. I tell my husband that you put how I feel into the words I can’t seem to express. I do have one negative comment about this post though. When you are describing your reaction to cross contamination that is something very personal and individual. Telling people to expect to be in the bathroom for days is misleading. Some celiacs don’t have any intestinal issues at all or even side effects of being “glutened”, another reason this disease is so misunderstood.

    1. shauna

      Kristen, I was describing my reaction, not everyone’s. We’re doing a post soon about the variety of symptoms people experience.

      1. Kristen

        Shauna,
        I appreciate your reply. You do indeed say that “if you are anything like me…”, but the next sentence you tell people to “expect to be in the bathroom”. I find it misleading.

        Thank you for your follow up and the next post about the myriad of symptoms.

  20. Kay Guest

    YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES! Six years of your postive influential blog! Congratulations!
    My suggestion would be to go to any of the gluten free blogs and click on “Links” and spend HOURS happily reading all the recipes and helpful tips. Any of these talented folks will make even just an OKAY cook a much better one. (And that goes for anyone, not just those who need to be gluten free.) Now, I wonder if there is any power on earth that could make me like cilantro… Thanks for YOUR blog and books and thanks to the chef too! Kay

  21. Svasti

    …I ate a lot of bad cakes and breads just to prove to myself that I wouldn’t have to give up cake and bread…

    *puts hand up*

    Me. I’ve been doing this! I’m a newly diagnosed gluten intolerant (but not celiac) person, thanks to thyroid issues. Hooray! (not).

    Thank you so very much for writing this post. It is overwhelming, being newly gluten free. And it is freaky and scary on top of the hypothyroiditis issue. Tonight I was starving as I came home from teaching yoga and I did have a little sob on the train when I realised I couldn’t just swing by my (previously favourite) burger joint any more.

    But I came home and made a green smoothie instead and while right now I still miss that burger, I’m glad I resisted. That said, I’ve got a lot of work to do on learning to love cooking and being any good at it.

    Thanks for being here and writing this post. It’s so very helpful!

    1. Cris

      I thought I was alone! I, too, have hypothyroidism and am gluten intolerant (oh AND dairy intolerant). It sucks! Sometimes I feel like I can’t eat anything. Be careful with foods that exacerbate hypothyroidism, particularly, spinach, raw veggies (broccoli, cauliflower) and asparagus. There’s a big list online. The key is not to eat too much of these foods at a time. Good luck!

      1. Beverly

        Thanks so much for that. I also had thyroid issues and became gluten intolerant. I had no clue about the veggies. But i am just now starting out on this journey.

  22. Jorie

    I loved this post, very great for a new gluten free. My advice, take a day to mourn, mourn the cookies, mourn the bread, mourn the gravy. Than make your own, go to search on glutenfreegirl, and search gravy. You will be shocked how easy it is, cookies, no problem, bread, piece of cake. Feel like you can’t do it yourself? (For example, you live in a tiny college apartment, with no money, no time, and an oven that doesn’t always ‘work’) There is good store bought gluten free bread out there (shocker!) I know, it’s hard to imagine, but Schar makes killer parabaked rolls and baguettes that taste just like bread, and Udi’s white bread toasts just like it has gluten. You can find that processed food that everyone else can have if you look. Freefromgluten, one of the sponsers here can help, amazon can help, even just searched best gluten free bread can help. Don’t give up, don’t get depressed. I am 21, living on my own at college (the haven of take home pizzas, sandwiches on the fly, fried food, and lots and lots of gluten) and I can do it. Don’t feel that you can’t, realize you can.

  23. Claudine

    Oprah’s magazine folks should’ve had you guest-write a piece — I was SO excited to see a story on anything GF in such a mainstream publication and after I read it, felt like I’d just been slapped. Thank you for what you do for all of us and especially our children who have CD and can see evidence of someone “like” them who is making a difference in the world.

  24. Amanda

    Beautiful post, as always. And a really nice reminder of what life was like W.G. (with gluten). My advice to the newly diagnosed is this: Be grateful. 50 years ago we would’ve been a part of the marginalized masses, the sick who can’t get help, who suffer alone while doctors told us over and over that it was in our heads. I know this because that’s what happened to my dad, and he’s permanently disabled now. Due to malnutrition since he was very young, celiac ravaged his body. He’s 53, has osteoporosis, multiple myalgias, chronic muscular and joint paint, chronic fatigue syndrome…more problems, really, than are capable of being listed in a blog response. So be grateful. That we were lucky enough to be diagnosed before the permanent debilitating consequences of gluten took the tole on our lives. After all–we’re alive, we’re healthy, and we get to play with really cool flours to draw complex flavors out that gluten-eating people would never dream to try. The diagnosis is a gift.

  25. Sarah

    The two things I figured out quickly were 1) Always have a snack with you, it just takes the stress out of a sudden surge of hunger while running your zillion errands, and 2) Bring a safe chocolate bar or some kind of treat to hide in your desk at work and only bring out when someone brings in doughnuts or banana bread or some other gluten filled treat. The sting of watching all your coworkers excited over the cake in the breakroom is much easier to bear when you can eat your own sweet snack.

    Oh, and my bonus tip: Van’s waffles make great impromptu hamburger buns!

    1. merrie

      One of the things I love about having celiac sprue is that I no longer have to eat the yucky cakes from the supermarket that pop up at work functions. Not that I ever HAD to eat them, but now I have a really good reason not to that doesn’t require any willpower!

  26. Starry-I'd

    Truth be known! I love the honesty and frankness here. This is real. This is the reality of living gluten-free.

    I’ve never been diagnosed with anything, because I found, on my own, what was making me feel so incredibly poor. I just started eliminating gluten and I felt much better. When I mentioned to my General Practitioner that it could be a gluten allergy or insensitivity, she just said, “Yeah, I don’t know if I believe in that.” I have never had the desire to go back on gluten and suffer, just so I could, maybe, get a diagnosis. There is no guarantee of a confirmed diagnosis, but there is a guarantee of pain, discomfort, and distress. No thanks.

    I was cooking frequently (every night dinners for the family, baking extra treats on the weekend, making my own pizza crust and sauce just for the taste of it) before going gluten-free. I still cook, but now I cook differently. But not so much differently. My family has been incredibly supportive. We are not a gluten-free household, since they still have their bread and bagels and dry cereals. But anything that gets cooked for the entire family is gluten-free. And they don’t mind it (too much). Gluten-free pastas, GF noodles, GF flours for thickening sauces, GF cookies, GF cakes for birthdays. My husband and I cooked an entirely GF Thanksgiving Dinner last year and it was outstanding! Everything was GF, including biscuits, gravy, stuffing, homemade mushroom soup for the fresh green bean casserole, homemade french-fried onions for the fresh green bean casserole, pecan pie… *everything*! It was absolutely, without a doubt, the best tasting Thanksgiving Dinner ever! And I firmly believe it was because everything was fresh and homemade with care. Oh, and the leftover mushroom soup made the best base for leftover Turkey Pot Pies with an absolutely amazing top GF crust!

    I’ve been through all the grieving and anger and frustration and cross-contamination setbacks. It is a new reality that cooking at home is actually easier than taking the family to a restaurant. Since one advantage of restaurants is the selection, I am now on a mission to find recipes and cook the things I can’t have at a restaurant when I’m with my family. Things like Chicken-fried Steak, Tomato Bisque, French-Onion Soup, Minestrone Soup, Meatballs, Lasagne… oh the list goes on an on and on. But I have now made all of these things gluten-free at home. And they have all been fabulous! And each and every time, I count my blessings for such wonderful, tasteful food. And each and every time, I thank my family. I thank them for letting me cook these things at home so that I can enjoy them. It just so happens that they have loved eating these things along with me! Just this past weekend I made the French-Onion Soup GF, with a Udi’s GF bagel on mine (regular bagels floated in everyone else’s) with gruyere melted across the top. We often rate the things we make at home and this one was off the charts with everyone! It was so incredibly good!

    Oh, the pleasure of good, good food.

    Hmmm… did I mention the GF Monkey Bread? Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

  27. Emma

    3 months ago our son was diagnosed with C/D after 3 months of being extremely poorly. our immediate reaction was relief at knowing how we could help him to get well again. after 24 hours of being gluten free he was eating like his old self, he had colour in his cheeks and not just black rings around his eyes, he was back to bounding around rather than lying on the sofa and his chatting was endless again! (that is the best bit) we were finally back to normal. just without gluten. no great loss having seen what damage it can do. we are now 3 months in and he is fit and well and constantly starving as all 9 year old boys are! he handles the gluten free way of life like a pro. he remembers how poorly he was and is happy to avoid whatever he needs to in order to remain well (that’s the spirit!) he has eaten safely with friends at their houses ( written instructions don’t offend good friends! ) and he has eaten safely with family, they care so much about him they make every effort to keep him well. he has even eaten safely at a pizza party ( we took a g/f base and chewed the ear off the staff about how to look after him– this is no time to be shy). with research eating out is possible (question everything in a friendly manner and you will be surprised how helpful staff can be and avoid any eatery with staff that do not seem interested. ) he has been at parties where the cake and sweets are filled with gluten and not even complained once (take your own cake and sweets to any party just in case). he happily takes along his own treats for class parties etc. like he says, being ceoliac means he does not have to share his biscuits!!. there have to be some perks. his friends don’t bat an eyelid about the situation. they read packets with him to check for gluten and happily eat g/f pizza etc at our house without complaint. kids are so accepting aren’t they? so everything is possible, just be organised and think ahead. do online shopping so you don’t have to stand in the shops for 3 hours pondering ingredients lists( this also avoids temptation for a 9 year old helper!). keep your cupboards, fridge and freezer well stocked for things like spur of the moment picnics. you can still be spontaneous, with a bit of planning! but my best advice for anyone newly diagnosed would be to follow my sons example. remember its about what you can have (and there are plenty of things you can!) not what you cannot (who would want them if they make you ill?) and about being with people who want you to be healthy and are happy to make every effort to ensure you eat safely. our son is a pefect example of how well you can be on a gluten free diet, it truly is amazing to see him so well after just 3 months. he has been fixed by food! he is also a shining example of how to accept what life throws at you and just get on with it.

  28. Abbey

    Thank you! I have been gluten free for just over a year now. At fist I thought I was going to starve. I ate fruit and cheese for weeks. I was clueless how to eat without bread. But I felt better for the first time in years. Within a few months I went from feeling like I related with people in their 60s to keeping up with people my own age (22). So many people in my life didn’t believe it and thought “a crumb isn’t enough to make you sick.” it was so frusterating!
    Now I’m healthier than ever. I feel young, a true miracle!

  29. Molly Stoltz

    I think it’s important to acknowledge those who don’t live with a kitchen, Jorie. I am not celiac but have a fairly strong allergy to wheat and so consider myself to be a close cousin : ). I found out that I was allergic when I was 18, about to move away from home into a dorm. It was a hard three years living off of whatever I could find in the cafeteria of the dorm, and although the cooks were fairly understanding, it was hard to figure out how to deal with it on my own, and there were plenty of times when I cheated.

    Luckily, my dance teacher who has two children with celiac found out, and every week she came to class with a bag of gluten-free bread and goodies for me. I still am deeply in her debt to this day!

    Now I have a kitchen and happily cook most of my food the way that I like it. But I definitely won’t forget how hard it was to have to live at the mercy of the dorm food, as there was no kitchen and no time to make meals for myself. If you ever meet someone in a situation like this, please remember to reach out a hand to them and remind them that they aren’t alone!

  30. Ann

    I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease one year when my daughter was away for a year. She came back a vegetarian, so the cooking at our house became quite complex, more so as she gradually removed all animal based food from her diet. I still struggle sometimes to make a meal for all of us, and sometimes I don’t achieve that — but we all eat well, we have branched out from a fairly narrow diet, and we are still developing our repertoire. The key thing is we all feel better. I have never been tempted, not once, to eat gluten. As Shauna says, on a given day I might kick against the regime, but to me that is a big signpost that I need to do something differently: pack a snack or a better snack; be up front about asking people not to cook or buy anything gluten free for me; better organization in the meal planning and or shopping; telling people that I have to be careful what I eat; and so on. It’s up to me, and the times when it’s frustrating are just ways of showing me what to do. Yay. When I was newly diagnosed, I went away for a weekend where we all took food to share, and in all the negotiation about who was bringing what, one woman insisted that our gluten freeness be honored. I wasn’t used to asking other people to do that. So I brought plenty of my own things, and so did she — but on the last day, she succumbed to the temptation of some croissants, saying that she would pay for it later. Everyone rolled their eyes as she had made such a fuss about her need for gluten free food — and then ate gluten. I learnt from that — people will be very helpful if you ask, but if you don’t honour your own needs, why should they bother? This just re-inforced the idea that some people hold, that living without gluten is a choice, not a necessity. New things I have discovered, and loved: polenta– so versatile, tacos — so easy.

    1. Starry-I'd

      “Everyone rolled their eyes as she had made such a fuss about her need for gluten free food – and then ate gluten.”

      This kind of thing is exactly why so many people are skeptical of those of us insisting that we need to be gluten-free. I’m sorry to hear that this happens. I know it happens. I’ve seen it happen. And when it does, I am left to explain why I can’t just have a little gluten now and then. It just makes everything more difficult.

      Stay vigilant! Your body (and the rest of us) thanks you!

  31. Snippets of Thyme

    I was so tickled when I recognized you on Penny’s online workshop. It made me feel like I am part of this wonderfully close online group of food bloggers that I desperately want to be a part of. I am just getting to know your blog now and enjoyed this article very much.

  32. Victoria

    “Those first few months, I was scared, overwhelmed, elated at my new-found health, and kind of pissed.”

    Truer words were never said. I’m still only 9 months into this life change, and I will admit to having stabby thoughts when picking up fast food for my husband and being trapped in a car with the smell of good fast food onion rings. After the last time I told him if he wants them again, he’s got to be the one to run for food. I’m not Superwoman.

    I can’t believe how much more I have learned about food — and I thought I knew quite a lot before this — since having to cut out gluten. Seriously — if you don’t know anything about food or cooking and need to go gluten-free, it will be a very painful thing to do, but you need to buy a good all-around cookbook like The Joy of Cooking so you can learn what items and cooking techniques use wheat. And hopefully you will be surprised at all the things you can still enjoy.

    But it is also suprising when others do take the time to understand and accomidate you (like staff at the local Jimmy Johns that knows that my wrap needs to be made on a clean cutting board with meats/cheese from the bottom of the stack, and all clean utensils — I’ve almost burst into tears of joy more than once when they’re making me a wrap that will not make me sick).

  33. katie

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been gluten free now for 6 months after diagnosis and it gets easier everyday. My insecurities come out around social situations involving food because I feel like a burden. I hate requesting something different at gatherings and I feel awkward every time I have to say ‘no thanks’ when everyone is enjoying cake together. My advice is to always bring along safe food to share with everyone. It also doesn’t hurt to make something particularly delicious to show how amazing gluten free food can be, and to ensure you have something tasty to enjoy when everyone else is taking seconds of the lasagna. And on this same note, I have really learned how to step up to the plate and take care of myself and I have become much more confident in voicing my needs. Becoming gluten free has taught me so much about myself, and has empowered me to be my own advocate in other areas of life also.

  34. Liz

    This post made me cry. Thank you for reminding me that not only is my childrens health worth (a thousand times over) the time, energy and effort I put into cooking gluten free, healthy meals and snacks for them, but I am too. Some days I put off taking care of my celiac by eating gluten free, for a hundred reasons (none of them good). Thank you. Thank you. Reminded, now I am off to put together an extra “to-go” container of gluten free snacks for myself, right next to theirs.

  35. Lauren

    Yes, yes, yes! A year in, I’m still finding my way down the gluten-free path. Your “yes!” has been guiding me all the way. Thank you so much. Even before going GF, I spent years reading about nutrition and learning how to feed myself and my husband nourishing food. The further I go down the GF road, the more I realize that the “limitation” of my GF diet is really doing me a huge favor by eliminating so many processed foods. If you eat whole foods without chemicals, preservatives, additives, antibiotics, hormones etc. you eat healthy foods. Really nourishing foods. Please know that you are providing deeply nourishing inspiration and encouragement here. Your joy is infectious.

  36. Nadene

    Thanks for this blog…I have been diagnosed with Celiac disease just recently and have been eating gluten-free for about two months. I laughed out loud when I read your line. “Those first few months, I was scared, overwhelmed, elated at my new-found health, and kind of pissed.” Why? Because that described it exactly to a tee. In fact, I had just asked my daughter who’s been Gluten free a year and a half, “When do you stop thinking about all the things you CAN’T have?” She said you just eventually forget about it and and start loving it…the improved health, mentally and physically is so worth it! I’m just now starting to see how much better it is and everyone is commenting on the 15 pounds I’ve lost since starting. I look and feel a whole lot better. Sites like your are a God-send!! THANK YOU!!!!

  37. Christina

    This was a very reassuring post, thank you! I’m about to embark on reducing my gluten intake, as well as sugar, in hopes of clearing up a rather persistent series of yeast infections, and the positivity of this was uplifting!

  38. Melanie

    What a Wonderful Post!

    I have been told by family, friends and co-workers that my attitude since being diagnosed has been nothing short of fantastic. I also decided to focus on what i could have instead of what I couldn’t. That fast food now held no sway for me, that I was free of that ‘just grab something’ attitude that is so commonplace nowadays.

    I saw the diagnosis as an excuse to eat well!

    On that note, yes I have had moments of tears, privately though. We are all human. Allow it but move on from it. This is an opportunity, not a flaw.

    I also agree with the need to cook, the desire to connect. I was a baker before my diagnosis, and my workplace would not embrace the idea of any gluten free desserts no matter how much I persisted. So I left :-)

    Enjoy your new life, embrace things you may not have tried before, like joining a local farms CSA, like my husband and I did. Since we now enjoy a truly balanced diet, together.

    Oh and get some good knives, lol. There’s much chopping in your future!

  39. Becky

    Just. Thank you.
    My 5-year-old son was asymptomatic but diagnosed with celiac about a year ago as a result of his routine Type 1 diabetes bloodwork and follow-up biopsy. This was a blow to my burgeoning foodie, particularly because we had approached his diabetes care with an “everything in moderation and in balance” attitude — easy when you have a CSA-subscribing, grass-fed meat-eating, bread-baking sort of family.
    It hasn’t been easy for him (or us), particularly when it comes to the world of playdates and birthday parties and family members who just don’t get it.
    We’ve made our house GF (exception: beer) because he should have one safe place to not worry about cross contamination.
    We’ve made friends with the kitchens at a few local restaurants. Yes, our Family Date Night circle became smaller, but less stressful.
    We started having more people over to our house. I am a kick ass cook and love it — so there’s nothing better than being able to serve up small plates and fancy drinks in the yard.
    And we still keep room in our lives for I HATE CELIAC DAYS. Then we eat some bacon and feel a bit better.

  40. Vicky

    What a great article Shauna, such good advice! The risk of cross contamination in our kitchen has always been a nightmare! Not only do I have to watch out for a gluten free diet, when I have to cook for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I have to again thoroughly clean down the kitchen, rewash cooking bowls and dishes in fact I feel I have OCD! So many people don’ t understand the risks of cross contamination. In fact most of the time I try to cook SCD friendly, it makes life much easier. I’ve even in the past been seen outside the house mixing butter icing to prevent the icing sugar from landing anywhere in the kitchen! Also, no takeaways here! I always cook from scratch but after a while you learn how to cook your own fast food and it’s much healthier! Keep up the good work!!!

  41. Caneel

    Oh Shauna, I wanted to take a highlighter to my computer screen on this post, make copies of the highlights and pass them out to some people! You did a great job, and I’m sharing this link with my page.

    (And, by the way, trying those amazing sweet potatoes. Very soon.)

    One of the biggest things for me when first going gluten-free was learning to NOT eat everything that said “gluten-free” on it just because I could. Not only did I waste a lot of money on some really terrible-tasting products, I gained several pounds. It was like I told myself I could eat that (even things like a regular Snickers) on purpose because it didn’t have gluten. Even if I wouldn’t have wanted it anyway if I was still eating gluten, I felt like I HAD to eat it simply because I could. Bad, bad idea.

    Read reviews of products and take them to heart. If you’re wondering whether something is any good, try to find reviews of it first. There are some really good products out there and some nasty ones. Save yourself a lot of money that way.

    If you’re in a home with gluten, use a toaster oven instead of a toaster or buy yourself a separate toaster. You can remove the racks and wash them in a toaster oven.

    Those are just a few!

  42. Sarah

    Thank you for this post. I have been gluten free for about 6 years too.
    I have gone through every emotion in the book just like you.
    I am so grateful that I found your website.
    I am glad that you are part of my community.
    I don’t have a lot of friends close by who are gluten free and I check your website each day to see if you have posted something new. You are a friend that I have never met and probably never will. But we are togehter on this gluten free journey of life.

  43. Kristy

    Wonderful post!
    I too am named Kristy have 3 boys and after my last was born got really sick. They thought MS, Lupus, Lyme disease, and finally at my insistance tested me for Celiac (which was a total debacle in which the Dr’s gave me all sorts of misinformation about how I could stop eating gluten before the test and that I did not need the complete blood panel test for Celiac). I tested negative in both blood and biopsy and was told it may bother your stomach but it is not what is making you sick. After some trial and error I discovered that on a strict gluten free diet the numbness in my arms legs and tougue, the horrible pain in my fingers and feet, the brain fog and fatigue all went away. All my strange and very disturbing nuerological symptoms disapeared.

    I love your philosophy of focusing on what you can eat. And I love that this “problem” has made me have to be aware of every single thing that goes in my body and thus has made my diet so much more healthier. And I feel so lucky that my extreme symptoms led me to this gluten free life that also solved my young son’s life long digestion problems.

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful spirit of embracing life and food!

  44. Britt

    Perfect, Shauna. This is exactly what people need to hear. I’m in the same boat as you–this whole thing is such second nature that when those who are new to it ask me, “What the hell am I supposed to do?” it gives me pause. Ah yes, there was a time when it was all new. That’s right, not everybody cooks. Thank you for putting these things–the things we tell our friends–here in black and white so those who are new to the community will be able to find such wonderful reassurance. xo

  45. E

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This coming Thursday will mark two whole weeks of being g-free. I really did need to hear this, and you have no idea how deeply your encouragement resonated with me.

    Thank you.

  46. Erika

    I have only been gluten free for a few months.…after years and years of sickness…
    I am still learning, I am trying to embrace all of the new gluten free ways of cooking and baking. My entire family has gone gluten free ( for all of the true health benefits), but my son and I truly cannot have it. I have found its much easier to survive if my entire house is a free, safe zone.
    My issues have been cross-contamination. We have been eating out way to often out of ease in our busy lifestyle, and I have been really sick a lot again…
    I think I have finally come to the resolve that I AM WORTH IT. I do not need to eat Gluten and be sick for days. I don’t need the migranes, the cramps, the diarrhia.
    I need to make the time for a healthy ME.
    the simple statement I AM WORTH IT.…its big for me. Eating gluten free is a huge part of just taking care of me. I am always working towards taking care of others, and get so busy, no time to cook… but that is no longer an excuse. I MUST put my health first.
    I love your blog and am so greatful for the gluten free bloging community.
    Erika

  47. Jeanne

    Yes!

    After my diagnosis last August, I happened upon your blog. Reading what you have to say convinced me that I didn’t need to cancel my subscription to Food & Wine Magazine. I just need to read it with my how-can-I-change-this-recipe-so-I-can-eat-it hat on. You gave me permission to substitute GF flour mixtures for the flour in my favorite recipes. Last weekend I made a cocoa-carrot cake from the most recent F & W issue and it was wonderful. My family (gluten eating test subjects) all agreed. It’s worth taking the time and effort to feed yourself well. Your mind and body will thank you.

  48. Caleigh

    Every word of this post rang true with me. I was living in a shared house when I was first diagnosed Coeliac (4 years ago) and my house-mates were so supportive they designated a gluten free section of the kitchen! My true passion for cooking grew from the need to eat well and gluten free. I still find eating out stressful, it feels as though the menu is taunting me with all the things I can’t eat.

    The gluten free community I have found online has been the greatest encouragement for me.

  49. Rachelle

    Shauna — thank you for this post. I just posted a new blog post yesterday on struggling with being gluten-free. It’s been almost 3 years for me and I just went through a very stressful period lately and fell off the gluten-free wagon as I like to call it. Everyone, myself included, talks about how easy it is, but it is a lifelong commitment and is it really worth feeling bad physically bad. It is a journey and one we have to stay the course. We are lucking to have such a great community … Looking forward to your visit to Austin during IACP. Would love to do lunch or dinner as we discussed previously.

  50. Kat

    A friend of mine linked me to this post, and I just wanted to say thank you.

    Everything you wrote, the just starting out stuff, is what I am going through right now. I am brand new. I have tested negative for Celiac, but that was after a month without gluten, do the likelihood of a false negative is very high. I am now scheduled for appointments with both a nutritionist and a gastroenterologist. My doctor has recommended that even though she can’t officially diagnose me, that I go gluten-free, as she believes that I am either Celiac or highly intolerant.

    My husband is incredible, and we are in the process of ridding our home of gluten. It’s going to take some time (and money). It is so frustrating, but also I feel so much better than I did before! I am nearly thirty, and I’ve had symptoms of this at least since I was 19, and probably much earlier. I am so angry that I did this to myself for ten or more years without knowing it. I am still having bad days, because I am learning what things I can eat and what things I really can’t. Today is a bad day. Tomorrow will be better.

    Thank you for your help. Thank you for being a voice out there that says I’m not by myself in this. Thank you.

  51. Pétra (Creative Mom)

    What a wonderful post!
    I love that every year there are new resources and better foods available for the newly diagnosed celiac. While I had to cook because the only gluten free food available at the store was bread that looked like styrofoam the newly gluten free person doesn’t have to because there are so many options. That being said COOK I so agree with what you wrote about cooking, make the time it is good for your soul!

  52. Janet NZ

    Great post Shauna — thank you. Shortly after I discovered I had celiac disease I found your first book and through it, your blog… and other blogs with a similar theme.
    I agree with Caleigh — the online gluten free community is a huge support, and we are a community that is growing all the time.
    But I will always be most grateful to you — because it was you who introduced me to all this.
    Thank you, and congratulations on 6 years!

  53. Christina

    Shauna, again you are my lifeline. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I know how much hard work it is to write a blog and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your voice. It was the lighthouse in the distance when I first realized I shouldn’t eat gluten; I felt so alone bobbing along up and down on waves of illness and emotional turmoil. Your blog, your voice is the anchor in my gluten-free world. :) Thank YOU both! And Lu! :)

  54. Carol

    Here, here! I’ve been gluten free for a little over 3 years. I have always been a good recreational baker and now have extended that into my gluten free cooking. My GF Heath Bar cookies are pretty darned good! There are folks in my life who would, I believe, rather complain about not feeling well, than try to do something to change their diets. I, too, don’t like to deal with the whining. I’m a believer in, “That’s the way it is. Get over it and figure out what you need to do and then do it!

  55. Rebecca

    Shauna, you have been a life saver. I discovered an allergy to wheat just after this last Christmas and was devastated. I loved to bake, to cook, to play in the kitchen with food. All I could think of was what I could no longer have… Then I read your book and felt like someone had smacked me in the back of the head for being stupid. Thank you for knocking some sense back into me and helping me find my way back to health. With multiple auto-immune issues I was on my way to full disability at 55 – BUT – no longer. I am out of pain and full of energy again, thanks to being gluten free. And thanks to you, I now look at what I can have, I am playing in the kitchen again and constantly search out new toys (foods) to play with. Using your ratios I am unstoppable again!

  56. Susan

    Thank you Shauna.

    My mother has dermatitis herpetiformis, and she has been fighting the diagnosis for a couple of years. I had helped her at the beginning to figure out what she could eat, but she didn’t last long eating gluten-free. She has tried every drug and cream, thinking (hoping) that it was something else.

    Recently, my mum has come to the conclusion that she just needs to say yes and get back to eating gluten-free. She has been doing so for about 3 days, and just this morning said that she already feels better (i.e. the rashes and the itch).

    Your post has shown up exactly on the day that I am going to go and help her dig through the food in her house and get rid of anything that she cannot eat. Unfortunately, she also hates to cook. So thank you for reminding me that I need to make sure that I make time to make a meal and bring it to her, and make time to go over and show her something simple and delicious and gluten-free.

  57. Layne

    I don’t know that I have any good advice for those starting out with the g-free life…I’m just 4 months in and last week hit what seems to be an insurmountable wall emotionally. It’s been tough from the start, sure…but last week…I just felt so defeated. So tired of having to make a big deal out of what should be such a simple task — getting something to eat! I’m tired of having to dictate where my family goes to eat — do they have anything for me? I’m tired of other well-intentioned people buying things for me b/c they genuinely think it’s g-free…and I look like an ungrateful, anal person b/c I have to turn it down and inform them that it’s not. Going to a luncheon that’s important to me every year…but this year is different b/c I have to be the only one in the room with someone different to eat, which shouldn’t be a big deal…but the waitress shouts across the room that I’m the one with the “special salad” and after eating my plain chicken she asks, “What was your lunch, anyway? Some sort of fish?”

    I don’t know if I experienced my first “glutening” since going g-free, or what…but last weekend my head was spinning…I felt disoriented and my mood slowly started to crash…two days after that meal, intense dispair and depression…over what? My doctor (NP, actually) won’t even entertain the idea that it could be a reaction to gluten — that’s only digestive, she says.

    I’m rambling with no point. Sorry. Venting. Tired. Defeated.

    Thanks to your blog and those like yours, I can have a little bit of the feeling that I’m not alone. Thanks for getting the word out. Thanks for encouraging. Thanks for educating. I’m not in a phase of life where I like to be standing at the stove (3 kids whining at me makes me just want to stay out of the kitchen), but I’m hoping to get there…eventually…

  58. Ellen W

    I received my diagnosis of celiac 5 months ago and 85% of the time it doesn’t bother me. I am a good cook and baker and have been working to modify recipes that I can eat — next on my list is my family’s crispy sugar cookies. Most of the time cooking dinner for family is no big deal and we are eating less processed food which is good for everyone. What still gets me down at times is being at a restaurant and already knowing at least half of the menu is off limits or seeing all the beautiful French pastries on Oh Happy Day and Design Mom’s websites and thinking I will never have a chance to try those.

    My husband and boys are very supportive and so are my friends. At a women’s luncheon at church, some gf muffins were made especially for me and gf communion wafers are available. In my PEO group, two of us are now gf and an effort has been made to have part of the refreshments be gf. There is still some gluten in our house as my toddler loves goldfish and animal crackers, and with my 5 yr old eating peanut butter sandwiches everyday, I keep Costco wheat bread around.

    I imagine a year from now, I will feel more positive and confident. Not having constant GI issues is more than enough reason not cheat, plus I want my body to heal and be whole.

  59. Sylvia Maunder

    I love your blogs and save most of your recipes to my hard drive so that I can easily find them again. Sometimes I have a bit of work to do because I’m in New Zealand and not everything in the recipes is available here. And that’s my one criticism of your blog. Google know that they are part of an International community and so is Facebook. Blogging about going GF should be something aimed at your international audience of coeliac or Gluten Intolerant readers. (Sorry the world doesn’t begin at the border with Canada in the north or end in the south at the border with Mexico.) I started off thinking that I could use this blog, printed out, for newly diagnosed coeliacs who join the coeliac support group where I live (in a small town of 5000 people), but I’ll have to knock a few bits out of the foods you consider naturally GF before I can use it. Over here tacos are not always safe and certainly not ‘naturally’ gluten free. A lentil Dhal, I have heard of but I can’t even find out through Google what a ‘waat’ is in relation to food. Cornichons are gherkins over here, and they are almost always pickled in a vinegar containing gluten. I dread biting into something and finding a gherkin in it. They are rarely sold raw. What most people would consider to be a ‘Spring Roll’ here and in Australia is laden with Gluten. I’ve never come across smoked salt caramel ice cream, and while in NZ most of our ice cream is GFwhen I go to visit my daughter in Australia I can’t have ice cream at all because some bright food scientist over there thinks that wheat is an essential ingredient of ice cream!!!

    1. shauna

      Sylvia, I certainly didn’t intend to upset you so much. The list was a free-from set of images of foods I love. Tacos are not always gluten-free but they should be, if they are a god taco. Waat is an Ethiopian dish. Here in the US, it’s understood that the long-held belief that vinegar contained gluten is actually a myth. Ice cream here is almost always gluten-free. Spring rolls are made with rice paper. And there’s a recipe for smoked salt caramel ice cream in our cookbook. While I try to be aware of our international audience — and I’m certainly glad you are reading — I cannot try to write for everyone. This is hopefully inspiration for you to celebrate the foods you can eat and find easily.

  60. Brooke@foodwoolf

    There’s a whole lot of YES going around. And I like it. I especially love “Cooking is your path to healing,” because it is true on so many levels. Cooking can heal your body, mind, and spirit if you commit to the work of good cooking. I love you and all your inspiring words. xoxoxo

  61. Sylvia Maunder

    Hi Shauna. Not upset, just trying to make a point. I don’t think good tacos exist outside of the Americas:-) Here in NZ we can’t consume malt vinegar — no myth — fact. Spring rolls with rice wrappers are only ever a home made delicacy and generally known as Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Oats is another one. In NZ the official advisory is that no oats here are GF. Its a difficult one to substitute in baking. Teff flour is another one. Perhaps a visit to this side of the world, one day, would be an enlightening experience in more ways than one:-)

    1. ElizaBeth

      NZ is one of the best countries for traveling gf safe not only with the ease in communication, but also the abundance of gf food and awareness in the B&B’s, the local cafes and markets made our three weeks of travel nearly divine without contamination. Can’t say that about traveling in the US. This trip was 7 years ago, so I’m anxious to return as I’m certain the food and scenery will be even better than my memory allows. Cheers!

  62. Ki

    This is timely. I am currently on my first long trip since going gluten-free.

    The first two days were a disaster. I DID pack snacks, but I had counted on getting to a decent restaurant. The first morning I was in a town in which the ONLY restaurant was a Waffle House in which I was served Velveeta in my omelet.

    That was a raw, angry, brutally unhappy moment.

    Then, I regrouped and went digging for better places, even if it meant driving. Even though I am in very small towns, the kitchen staff have been more than happy to help me. I had a hamburger today without the bun that was redemption on a plate. It singlehandedly saved the trip.

    So, yes. Raw. Anger. Frustration. I didn’t expect this kind of miserable experience, BUT it pushed me to much better things that maybe I wouldn’t have found in the first place. YES.

    But, do always have some sort of gluten-free snack available. If I hadn’t baked muffins and brought a handful of gluten-free protein bars, I probably would have had a complete meltdown.

  63. Annie

    Your blog has been such an encouragement for me. I have been gluten free for 20 months now. I have never felt this good. When I first went off gluten, I didn’t know anyone else who ate this way. Reading your stories makes me feel like I have a great friend who is there to support me, rallying me. Congrats on your 6 year anniversary. Thank you for sharing.

  64. Megan

    Perfect timing for this post–I really needed it. I was diagnosed with Celiac 15 months ago (not that I’m counting) almost by accident. I was relatively asymptomatic–no major stomach issues–but a biopsy during an upper endoscopy indicated celiac, we followed up with blood tests, and here I am–living gluten-free. For better or worse, I don’t get sick if I accidentally eat gluten, and I can’t say that I feel dramatically better since I gave up gluten (although I have far fewer headaches), and that makes it even harder to stick with the GF diet. But I do, and I’ve never cheated. Lately I’ve been feeling down thinking about all the food I miss, but you’re post was a great reminder to change my focus. I’m going to print it out and out it on my fridge. YES. Thank you.

  65. Sarah-Ann Jones

    I just wanted you to know that I do not have celiac. I have however stopped eating gluten because I have high blood pressure and want to get it down. I enjoy your posts because they give recipes which I am ready to try.
    I know for me giving up gluten, wheat, potatoes and dairy have been a good thing. The weight loss itself is a bonus and it helps the weight to stay off. I can barely go down the cookie aisle in the grocery store now without feeling like something dangerous is going to try to jump off and attack me. I feel violated! Its funny but the foods that I loved I no longer want (except for the occasional cheesecake).
    Thanks for what you do.

  66. Sal

    Thank you so much for this post and for your entire site.

    I am one of the ones that was newly diagnosed and can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your site. I didn’t show any of the “normal” symptoms but was recently tested just in case and came back with numbers that were higher than my GI doc had ever seen. I had my biopsy last week and am waiting for the results but am noticing that in the week so far of being GF, I am already feeling better and really don’t need the results of the biopsy to confirm what the blood tests and the diet change already have. Your post has nailed almost all the feelings I’ve had so far and I’ve shared it with my family and friends so that they can understand more as well in words that make sense.

    Truly, thank you for all of your help and I can’t wait for additional posts.

  67. Nancy@acommunaltable

    Shauna,
    Your beautiful blog is such a wonderful resource for those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or have a wheat intolerance — I have referred a number of people to your site and am so glad that I have it as a resource. I do not have Celiac or a wheat intolerance but I did want to throw my “two cents” in! I am finishing my degree in Dietetics and so my advice is for those who think that gluten may be causing some of your health issues. Please make an appointment with your doctor and/or gastroenterologist. Self diagnosis is not a good idea!! Digestive issues can be caused by many things besides gluten so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis of your particular symptoms. In addition, digestive issues can cause nutrient deficiencies so it’s important to get an evaluation of your nutritional status.
    The good news is that we are learning more and more about digestive conditions and developing better nutritional therapies as a result. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we are getting there!

  68. Najwa Kronfel

    Great Post! I am trying to watch my gluten intake and this post has helped me understand even more the importance of this. Thank you very much!

  69. gretchen

    the hope and inspiration from penny’s class this past weekend has found a new and just as fresh face here in your post. thank you for the honest, but very promising words for those newbies, who’ve been recently confronted with a major change in lifestyle. the real truth is life has just begun. definitely a better one, worth living, that doesn’t include bloated, angry tummies and a host of other not good things.

    the drano day will come…

    [and shauna, so look forward to meeting you in dc this weekend!]

  70. suZombie

    I’ve been on low, compouned Zoloft for ten weeks. No more migraines! That gut-seratonin connection is wild. Helps the happy, too.

  71. Sari

    Happy Anniversary!

    Your first book, Gluten Free Girl, saved my life when I found out I had celiac. After paging through the other library books about going gluten-free, it looked pretty bleak. Then I picked up your book. And couldn’t put it down.

    You taught me to say yes, to focus on the positive, that food is my path to healing. You taught me to hope! (And that there is more to gluten-free life than corn flour and rice flour.)

    Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do. My life is happier, better, stronger, because of you.

  72. Pamela Strelcheck

    After being GF for almost two years now, I finally feel I have enough education and confidence to starting sharing this lifestyle with others. I’ve come a long way from feeling helpless and confused. Thanks to others, like yourself, and the support of my family, I am feeling strong and confident with being GF.

  73. J&J

    The timing of this is so perfect. I found out yesterday that I have the gene for celiac. My mom found out six months ago that she has it. I’ve been dealing with five years of devastating infertility. I’ve been asking and testing for celiacs for two years. Nobody gave it any importance. Today was my first day gluten free. So far… OK

  74. Melanie

    SO true…every word! I just decided to cheat on a recent trip to Seattle (one day with a little bit of gluten and three days in the bathroom afterwards! You weren’t kidding!) and was feeling discouraged. (And I’m usually the one encouraging others!) I needed this post and I thank you greatly. Thank you both for all that you do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel a sudden urge to chop cilantro.….

  75. Michael Redding

    I did not read all the comments, but wanted to add a gluten free recipe that we “developed” when my wife wanted a desert — but a gluten free one. She also has trouble with peanuts, so I started with the Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook which we’ve had for all 36 years of our marriage, that’s how “new” it is! I turned to the “cookie” section to see what I could do — when I saw the peanut butter cookie recipe, I decided to use Almond Butter instead of peanut butter, and I replaced the 1 1/4 c flour with 1/2 c almond meal, 1/2 c rice flour, and 1/2 c of some combination of tapioca and potato flour/starch. Several experiments have led me to cream the butter, sugar and eggs quite a bit longer than I might have, but this added a little body to the dough. I chilled the dough for 2 hours, then rolled the dough into balls, rolled in sugar, pressed with a fork and then topped some of the cookies with almond slices or a small dab of apricot jam. They aren’t sugar free, but they are “gluten free” as much as I can tell. The result is a wonderfully light and sweet cookie that disappears way too fast around her. I end up making a double batch and bake one or two dozen each night after supper until the dough runs out. I hope someone looking for a cookie recipe (who doesn’t care about sugar) will enjoy them as we do!

  76. Julia Sarver @ Glow Health

    Wonderful post, Shauna.

    I would tell the newly gluten-free me to stop and breathe. To recognize that food isn’t everything (even though I really love it!) and that feeling better was worth giving up crusty bread. I didn’t do this — I cheated for the first year. I wasn’t sick enough to really make a change. Then, I did a week long cleanse and cut out all gluten and dairy, and I felt truly incredible. I couldn’t believe how good I felt, and I never went back from that.

    Also, I’d tell newly gluten-free people now to steer clear of the gluten-free aisle at the grocery store — there’s very little in there that’s actually food. If you don’t normally eat cookies and chips, don’t start eating them just because they are gluten-free.

    Thank you for guiding us through this journey, Shauna. You’re an amazing resource and one I always recommend to my newly gluten-free clients. Congratulations on your fantastic gluten-free life.

    1. shauna

      Thank you, Julia. Such a kind comment! And tomorrow’s post is about choosing the healthy gluten-free way, instead of replacing one package with the other.

  77. Jess

    This is just beautiful, Shauna. Heartfelt, touching, inspiring. I have lived gluten-free for close to 10 years, but recently found out additional food sensitivities I have. Omitting those new foods rocked my world to its very foundation, and I have found myself having to rebuild my life, but I’m doing it joyfully and willingly. I cook each meal of the day for myself and I know that every bite of delicious, nutritious, whole food that I eat, is slowly healing me. What a profound gift that has become. Thank you for sharing these stories with people!

  78. Ellen

    I’ve been eating gluten free for about ten years. It was really hard to stick to at first, because I don’t get the immediate, intense digestive symptoms that most do with gluten. It was a much subtler build up and then — wham! — a migraine that took over my life for several days. But once I learned, I felt better.

    My suggestion to newbies is a caution: Focus on the REAL gluten free foods like fruit, veggies, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, etc. — not the processed gluten free cookies, cakes, pancake mixes and even rice protein powders that pretend to be “regular” foods. Here’s why… I am now fighting with pre-diabetic high blood sugar, because gluten free processed foods are very high glycemic. Wish I’d known that ten years ago.

    At the moment, I cannot eat ANY sugar or carbs. No dark chocolate, no fruit, no grains, no starchy veggies. They all cause my blood sugar to spike. I’m taking supplements to help my body become insulin sensitive again and I’m hoping I’ll be able to add some of those things back into my diet. But for now, it’s chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, and lots of greens. And it’s WAAAY harder than just eating gluten free.

    So take my advice and stick to whole foods. Leave the processed stuff on the shelf. You’ll thank me later. :-)

  79. Beth

    Shauna: Thank you for being so gracious when I sat next to you at Contigo! It took me five tries to get the courage to say hi, but Randy said I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. You are one of my heroes. I saw your first book a couple of years ago (3 maybe?!) at Whole Foods, bought it on the spot, read it cover to cover in a night, found your website, and have been reading (and cooking and baking) ever since. I love your new cookbook so much and feel part of your beautiful family.

    I squealed with joy when I saw your reference to me; thank you so much for remembering.

  80. Mrgaret

    I was diagnosed 2 years ago. I live in Australia, where ghe Gluten free products are pretty good. Last year we visited our son in Phoenix Arizon! And found the most Wonderful bread and bagels made by Udi’s, other products too. Cannot get a decent Gluten free bread in Australia.

    There was also a fabulous Gluten free shop in Phoenix that I wish we had here.

    Marg

  81. Margaret

    The address of the gluten free shop is 3345 Val Vista Drive Gilbert Arizona.
    Marg

  82. nell

    I feel extremely blessed to have family, friends and co workers who are so supportive. My father was diagnosed with celiac before I was so I was already in the gluten free mode. I am fortunate to live where I do because on a bad day at work I can drive 5 minutes to a gluten free bakery and indulge my sweet tooth or if too tired to make a meal there are several options on my way home to pick up a meal from restaurants with GF menus. Friends and co workers have been mroe supportive than I could ever imagine. When visiting friends who had had their first child I was welcomed with homemade blue berry muffins and reassured of the steps to prevent cross contamination. When going to dinner at friends homes the table is always GF (despite the fact that I always bring my own food just in case. They take the time to research on their own to make sure I can eat safely. Because celiac runs in the family, gatherings are always accomodating with many options. Eventhough it can be a challenge at times it also makes you realize the gift of good friends and family.

  83. Brenda

    Love this line: “Cooking is your path to healing.”-Shauna. I will be using this line for sometime…Starting now! It captures the essence of what my husband and I believe. There is no way around it, we must cook, we must empower ourselves…we must.

    –Brenda

  84. Robin O'Bryant

    Hi Shauna,
    I am busily poring over your website learning as much as I can. I was recently diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity. My NP told me I needed to be gf for 6 months, then I would be able to have it a couple of times a week if I wanted it. She didn’t really tell me what that means though.

    I started doing research online and reading about people who are true celiacs and have severe reactions to even the slightest cross contamination. But here’s the thing, I don’t have any GI symptoms. At all. I would say that fatigue, brain fog and anxiety are issues but not severe. (She also found that my B12 and VitD levels were rock bottom and treating those two issues has significantly increased my quality of life.)

    SO, here’s my question. Where do I fit? Do I have to stress about picking croutons off a salad? I don’t mind going GF, I love to cook. I love vegetables. I love trying new things. But if I’m being cross contaminated and don’t realize it OR have symptoms from it, is it still harmful to me? I’m supposed to be retested in 2 months and I don’t know if accidentally ingesting gluten is going to throw my numbers or what? There is so much info online it’s overwhelming. I wondered if you could point me to an answer?
    Thanks so much for your help!

  85. Barb

    Hey Shauna,
    Love your blog and your site. I am 11 years now gluten free. No more wooley brains, sleepy days, incredible tiredness, depression, and all that other evil stuff from being poisoned. I am only sad it took so long for someone to believe me and for me to get a celiac diagnosis. I have osteoporosis and also lymphocytic colitis because of the diagnosis delay. All I have had to do since the beginning is make sure I get my Vitamins, Calcium and Iron.and READ LABELS!!!
    It is wonderful to see the increase in awareness now.… I only worry that those who have adopted a gluten free life style because its trendy will will diminish the need for proper vigilance.
    This week’s celebration for me is because I am cancer free. Wahoooo!!!
    Always look forward to seeing all the chef-like suggestions to make our challenging ingredients work.

  86. lynne s of oz

    This is a bit late, but thanks for visiting Google and I hope you’ve made a permanent impression on them. My husband works at the big G in Sydney, Oz, and we’ll be going to Mountain View in a few weeks. If I’m invited on campus, I’d like to be able to eat there!

  87. Katie

    Newly diagnosed and was feeling down.
    I needed to read this today. Especially, focus on what you CAN eat, not what you can’t!
    Words to live by.
    Thanks!!

  88. kelbel

    Shauna, yet another friend of mine is starting on a gluten free path. She tried it a few months ago (before we’d met) and got so frustrated she gave up. She wants to try again and I want to hold her hand, but not overwhelm her. I want to be thoughtful about which links to send her etc. Then I remembered this post. Aaaahhh, perfecto! Thanks for saying it so well.
    Kelley

  89. April

    This is so encouraging! You and everyone who has commented seem so caring and helpful. I would love as much advice as I can get for how to go gluten free when my stomach is so sensitive. I’ve been dealing with really bad digestive problems for almost a year now. They got a lot better early this year which made me think a food allergy couldn’t be the problem, but for the past few months a lot of the problems have come back. I can’t eat dairy, and eating raw fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains, makes my symptoms so much worse. What would you suggest I eat when I start my gluten free diet? (I’ve been living on toast and chicken noodle soup!) I read somewhere that smoothies are a good idea, as well as making big batches of soup that I can freeze in portion sizes. I need easily digestible, gluten free foods. Should I also be careful about eating a variety of foods so I don’t develop intolerance to any other foods?
    Thank you for everything you do. This is all so overwhelming. I’ve been tested for celiac but it came back negative. I just turned 20, am spending most of the money I make on doctor co-pays and medicine, and I feel lost as to how to do this in a healthy way!

  90. Lynette

    There is little doubt in my mind that I am gluten intolerant. The stomach aches, headaches and depression clue me in. I would like nothing more than to learn to cook healthy. Heck, I’d like nothing more than to LIKE to cook at all. My house only has a kitchen because it it came with the rest of the place. That’s not to say I don’t ‘cook’ because I do make dinner, at least a few nights a week. However, it’s usually an ‘eat at your own risk’ kind of scenario.
    How do I not feel overwhelmed at the mere thought of cooking healthy? What can I do to keep from hyperventilating every time I decide that ‘today is the day I start’? I want to feel better, but more importantly I want my family to eat better. My kids are pretty much grown but it’s never to late to start, right? The doctor wants to remove my gallbladder.…but if I’m going to have to eat differently after it’s out then why not try to keep it and eat differently now? The seratonin/intestines link hits home too. Between menopause and my stomach I sound like a bitter old woman whose life now revolves around her ailments. So, so tired of this. My family deserves better…as do I.

  91. L N

    Hi. I’m 16 years old.
    Ever since Christmas, my health has never really been the same.
    For weeks, I visited numerous doctors whom tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I just wanted a answer, fourth time lucky, a local naturopath tested me. This was the best choice i have ever made, she helped me so much. I finally got a result– and could start fixing myself which was fantastic! Now I must stay away from red meats, gluten, dairy– its difficult but atleast i can try to do something.
    life sucks on this diet– my friends all get to go to maccas and eat yummy pizza –lots of chocolate (my old favourite) ! and i dont– its unfair!!!
    sometimes i do cheat– i give up and let in and eat whatever i can find thats “naughty”- of course i instantly regret it!
    hopefully this wont be at all for life– but being young it’s hard to keep this up– its hard to be the only one in the family to make myself a “special” dinner or to be the “annoying” one that has to order the expensive meal– which takes longer and no one else wants to share because its apparently “taste free“
    It takes time and doing school sports and studying for exams– this is crazy difficult!
    this blog is something i have never seen before– it opens eyes and is truly fantastic!!
    so THANKYOU!

  92. Janet

    What a wonderful message about living Gluten-free and life in general. Thanks for your books, website and recipes. There is such spirit and love in what you offer to others.
    I was diagnosed 7 years ago and although I worked in the Natural Foods arena, it was still a sad discovery. I grew up on pasta and bread with an Italian grandmother next door who was the best cook ever — you get the picture. I also an a vegetarian and that imposes additonal limits even if self-imposed. I quickly discovered the GF foods throughout the healthfoods store that I worked in and began to give classes and tours to educate others. Don’t hesitate to ask for help in the natural grocery stores — use the folks that work there to make life easier — also for those times when you are out and can’t control cross-contamination there is a great product called Gluten-Ease from Enzymedica that helps to break down the gluten & casein and assist in digestion. It has saved me on several occasions when I realized that there was cross contamination happening after eating out (and being assured there was no gluten in the food). I keep it with me when traveling. Another great product is Digest Spectrum (also by Enzymedica)that is for people with food sensitivties).

  93. Marjy

    Thank you for this. I’m waiting for the results of my bloodwork for anti-thyroid hormone, and if my levels are high, my nutritionist will be recommending that I avoid gluten as part of the balancing act. While it would be nice to have something besides being a couch potato to blame my weight gain, low energy, and poor focus on, I’m not looking forward to the idea of giving up some of my favorite things. Thank you for providing encouragement!

  94. D

    I am coming up on my one year anniversary of being finally diagnosed with Celiac. I suffered for years with migraines, mood swings, mad dashes to the bathroom, etc. Doctors told me I had everything under the sun before I finally went to one and asked to be tested for Celiac via upper endoscopy.

    The best words of advice I can give to someone are to try your best. You may cheat in the beginning but over time, like anything else, being GF is a routine. Like others have said, pack your snacks. I have snacks in every pocket, purse, and drawer. Plan ahead. Once you cut it out of your life you are going to see such a difference that even the most amazing piece of cake or sandwich will not tempt you. Special thanks to folks like Shauna for sharing their secrets to success, encouragement, and most of all…an open ear. Just give it some time. Your body will show you how great it can be.

  95. Dawn S

    I love your attitude, it’s amazing. I do not have to live gluten free, but I have used your recipes in the past to cook for others who are gluten free. I have enjoyed many of your recipes. I do have my own eating issues as a head and neck cancer survivor. I have dysphasia, and there are many things I cannot eat or swallow. I try and help others who have survived make the transition to their ‘new normal’ and one of the things I try and tell them is to focus on all the things that you can eat and embrace those things. I try and show them how to prepare good food that can easily be chewed and swallowed. I may not be able to sit down and eat and enjoy a yummy grilled steak ever again, but I can have lovely seared scallops, and that is a beautiful thing. Attitude is everything. :) Keep up you wonderful work. Wishing you six more years full of many blessings.

  96. Stephanie Devich

    I have psoriasis and after reading many blogs from others who suffer like me, I decided to give a gluten-free diet the chance to clear up my skin. After just 1 week of eating gluten-free, one patch that gave me major problems was about 90% clear. I find myself “relapsing” on gluten-induced foods and definitely pay the price later with an itchy scalp and headache.
    I’ve only been GF for a month but I am already seeing the benefits. I am slowly getting friends and family on-board and Thanksgiving is going to be an experience, I’m sure. But thankfully I LOVE to cook and welcome a challenge.
    It’s great to know that there are others who have made the same end-decision regardless of reasoning. Knowing that there is a wide variety of support makes this much easier. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to adapt to a GF lifestyle even 10 years ago.
    Thanks for the support (and recipes!).

  97. Steph

    Thanks for this very much — and for all the posts I’ve read on here thus far. My SO has just been diagnosed with Coeliac (he’s asymptomatic — he was screened after his sister was diagnosed, who was sick with it). He loves food, and at first when the blood test was positive he was so down about it. I couldn’t see why he shouldn’t be able to have good food still, but I knew almost nothing about gluten free diets and cooking. Thanks to a few blogs (yours being my favourite thus far), your enthusiasm, and all the fantastic recipes, I’ve been able to help him see there’s still plenty he can eat, and it’s good.

    As soon as his diagnosis was confirmed, I cooked him your quinoa cookies as an alternative to his beloved Anzac bikkies. He’s loving them (even if I’m still new at GF baking and not very good at it yet). Thank you for sharing, for your positivity, and for the good food to share with my SO.

  98. mary

    Hi, Gluten free girl I wanted to tell you once you start being gluten free dont ever go back. I was diagnosed three years ago. was doing wonderful and lost 44 pounds. Well my mother asked us to move back by her cause her new husband wanted to get to know us better. well with in the year we went back there i was doing good telling everyone how I could eat. well it got to the point I fell off the wagon and ended up eating gluten again gained all the weight back, Now I have moved away from them and am trying to go gluten free but it is difficult when you are the only one in your family that is gluten intolerant. I am not giving up and I will get back to where I was feeling so refreshed and full of energy, I am still afraid of going hungry cause of not having much to eat . Thanks for making the gluten free girl website now i know I can make it even if it is a long hard fight .

  99. Trish

    Thank You!!!! I was diagnoised with Celiac about 6 months ago now. I always knew there was something wrong but it was not until I had finally had enough of being sick and tired I found the right physcian who looked beyond the test to what he saw. A woman that the test where saying was not Celiac who was sufferering. To make matters worst I could burn water! I am single and never learned to cook. This post mirrors what I have experienced and my journey to a new healthy life. Turns out I may just be a pretty good cook, at least I am discovering stepping outside of my comfort zone is good for me. There is something so powerful about cooking that is feeding my soul. You are right I don’t miss what made me sick!

  100. Robin

    That was really nice

    Am I allowed to be angry? Im still really angry– I was meant to join the army– not literally be stuck in the kitchen :(

  101. Laura

    This post is exactly what I needed to read tonight. I was diagnosed with a bunch of food intolerances this week, including gluten, dairy, yeast and eggs. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. But you’re right, I just have to say “yes” and get on with it and realize that I will feel so much better once I’m eating in a way that is good for my body. Thanks for that!

  102. Sheri

    I don’t know if your still reading here, but those sweet potatoes were the BOMB! I’m not GI, but I’m interested in seeing if doing this will help me to feel better.

    I appreciate the love and effort you have put into sharing your heart and knowledge with us.
    I look forward to experimenting with more of your recipes!

  103. Debra Floyd

    Wow Is All I Can Say, You Hit On Every Topic Since I Was Told I Had Gluten Intolerance.. I Stood In The Middle Of The Grocery Store Last Week, Sobbing & Overwhelmed At My New Found Dilemma..But I Will Not Let This Ruin My Life– I Will Just Say Yes And Learn All That I Can About This Gluten Thing!!! Thanks For Sharing, It Has Made Me See That This Is Not The End But The Beginning Of A New Journey!!!

  104. Linda Harmon

    My doctor told me today that she thinks the eczema on my hands would clear up if I would go on a gluten-free diet. I’ve tried all kinds of things to clear my hands up so I guess this is my next avenue. I’ve always blamed my outbreaks on stress at work. I’ve always blamed my diarrhea on stress at work.…I retired and haven’t worked in a year. I guess I needed a billboard flashing over my head plus the support of friends who have celiac disease to finally get the message across. I look forward to reading this blog to find out everything I don’t know about being gluten-free (which is everything)!

  105. Delores Sivell

    I have only been gluten free for 2 months, I have had stomach issues on and off for years and the last 2 years have been extremely painful, I also have stomach issues with most vegetables and I am lactose intolerant, after being GF for only a week I felt better than I have felt in years, i had my (sorry if this is gross) first normal BM in 2 years, my GF diet is a problem because I live in a small town with only one grocery store with no GF section and the near by towns only have very small GF sections, I have to order most of my ingredient off the Internet. Thank you for this site it has helped me see I am not alone.

  106. Corrie

    I can’t tell you how happy I was to discover this blog! I have finally succumbed to the fact that I need to be gluten-free, and I was starting to get a little depressed. (A recent gluten allergy + 4th of July picnics can easily do that to you.) Thanks for the encouragement. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  107. Caterina

    Hi shauna, I made your sweet potato receipe tonight and. They turned out delicious! I am from australia and recently purchased your receipe book online. I have started to finally enjoy cooking after 1 yr of finding out I’m celiac. Thank you for continuing to inspire us. We really do appreciate it.

  108. gfpamela

    Your post on making our own whole grain AP mix was revolutionary for me. I’m now on to my 6th AP mix (we evolve, you know?) and the journey has been great. You may not realize your influence. The most important thing in the world to me is compassion, and you got it. You make our world better.

  109. Sandy Rustin

    THANK YOU for the post. I am near tears reading it! I do feel that a committed (no cheating) gluten free life style will change my life dramatically — but I am also lactose intolerant and allergic to nuts, shellfish, fish, corn, and sesame seeds. I am wholly overwhelmed by what to eat. I am desperate for a solid nutritionist who can guide me towards eating properly — for me. I KNOW I will feel better once I can figure it all out — but it feels like sooo much, it’s hard to know where to begin. Do you know any terrific nutritionists in the tri-state area (NYC preferred) that specialize in this kind of complicated diet? I’d be tremendously grateful for your guidance. Many thanks — Sandy

  110. Renae

    Long story short.… I’m eating gluten free now and I have absolutely no idea where to start — literally. I just found your blog and I’m so excited to have a reference point to begin from. I’m anxious to go back through your blog posts and learn from them!! :)

  111. Kimberly McKay

    I am not a diagnosed celiac but I opted to try gluten free last February. My husband is a breadator and suffered mightily from my lack of home baked spelt breads. A little over two months ago, he jumped ship and began eating breads, pie crusts, muffins and pizza dough from recipes I found on this blog. Twice since then we have “tested” his tolerance with croissant from our favorite bakery and suffered the consequences. He is now a happy convert to the delicious breads that are possible thanks to your experimentation. You made it very easy for me to change my baking. We already do raw milk, cheese and butter and buy only pasture raised beef, lamb and pork. This was just another big step into “conscientious” eating. Now some of my friends who I bring baked items to taste are eager to try. I point them here. Thank you for staying the path. We all will prosper here.

  112. Diana

    Have recently started to believe I may be sensitive to gluten, and my doctor stated we may have to look further into this. But I also have been reading alot on this matter because I have skin rashes, and the doctors have never been able to tell me why. But after reading alot of articles on gluten, am starting to believe this may play a big part. I’m also allergic to yeast, very sensitive to sugar, and of course vinegars — and both of these play a big part in the yeast problem. I did believe the yeast was the problem with the skin rashes, but am now not so sure. Years ago, when they did allergy tests, they found these were problems. And when I continued having a few problems, they tested the corn and wheat, and that also was a problem. So have been looking everywhere for help, and it’s all so overwhelming that it’s hard to know where to start. The yeast problem has been ongoing for several years, but after living in the west and south, I discovered it wasn’t as bad. But now that we’ve moved back north again, it is becoming a problem again. So I’ve gone back to my rotating diet and staying away from yeast foods. And do I ever love bread! So am now hunting!

  113. Polly Poppins

    Hi, thank you for writing this post. I know it was a while ago now. But I jut found it when I needed it more. I was diagnosed with celiac almost 2 year ago. But I’ve actually had it for a good 15 years. Some of my childhood and all my teenage year. but though I had side effects, Bad stomach aches and diarrhoea almost every day. No doctor we went to knew how to diagnose it. So I suffered for the fist 18 years of my life.

    Till one day, 8 months after I moved to China to study, wasabi was especially sick daily thanks to Mr Soy sauce. I came across my room mate’s book “Where there’s no doctor” and in it was a self test for celiac disease. So I thought that couldn’t hurt and went about eating fully g-free for a week. What do you know I felt better than I ever had and my stomach was fine.

    So I did well, but now two years later I have a new room mate who eats noodles and soy sauce lots. So cross contaminating is happening a lot. I am feeling awful a nd in the toilet more lately. So today I bought my own fry pan, wok, and pot. Plus have a chopping board and some other things that are mine. So thank you or inspiring me tonight and giving me a new lease on my gluten free life. I can do this.
    Xoxo

  114. Sylvie

    This post helped me SO MUCH. i am a freshman in college allergic to gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, peanuts, and shellfish, and it is so incredibly hard to eat at a dining commons where the often the only option is salad. however, it is wonderful to know that there are other people out there going through similar things and that it’s not impossible! thanks!! :)

  115. Gill

    Soy sauce?!? Nooooo! This is my first day going gluten-free, and I made an amazing dinner of brown rice, chicken and veggies in a red pepper sauce, and what do we drizzle all over it?? Soy sauce… failed on my first day. I suppose it could have been worse, but still.

    I don’t know if I’m sensitive to gluten, and I doubt that I’m celiac, but I’ve had problems with constipation my whole life, and recently I’ve been getting horrible acne (just turned 24, so it should be done by now, thank you very much). I’ve also had a couple of days with horrible nausea and stomach cramps after eating at my boyfriend’s place, so bad that I needed to take Gravol which knocked me right out. I normally never take any medications if I can help it. I’ve had a few suggestions to try a gluten-free diet, so I’m starting now, but I think it may also be a dairy allergy since I don’t seem to see constipation anywhere on the gluten list of symptoms. Does anyone have a suggestion as to whether I might be gluten or dairy sensitive?

    1. Gill

      ^ I should also add that while those two are the most obvious symptoms to me, I just researched a (short) list of symptoms and there are some more that apply to me:
      – low iron (has always been a problem in my family, it’s prevented me from giving blood several times)
      – irregular periods (they’re only regular now because I’m on the pill, otherwise they’re all over the place)
      – fatigue (except when I was at the gym 6 times a week in 3rd year university and in the best shape of my life. I’m average weight now, but find I’m exhausted quite a lot).

      My family has a history of colon cancer, so perhaps gluten intolerance is in my genes? It seems to make more sense that a dairy allergy or intolerance.

  116. Kayla Moore

    I just found out yesterday that I am celiac. I am a freshman at college and terrified! I dont know my options, Im frustrated and sad. I dont know where to start! how do I stand up for what I need?

  117. Mikelah

    Hello!
    My name is Mikelah and I am 16 years old, and hypothyroidic. I have always just assumed that having hypothyroidism just meant I am always going to feel kind of crummy. This doesn’t mean I have resigned myself to living a quiet life without activities. Regardless of sometimes feeling poorly, I am a year round athlete, playing volleyball from August to May, soccer from February to May, and swimming from May to August. I love to be active and would like to continue to play sports, but lately, I have been feeling worse and worse. SO! I just stumbled upon the idea of living gluten free. Apparently, thyroid issues are really connected to gluten. I dug around for some resources and I found your website and really like it. It is really encouraging to see that life goes on even when you cut out gluten. Do you have any advice as to how to be an athlete and be gluten free and how to keep the cost down when buying for the lifestyle? I am reluctant to say goodbye to bread, but I am willing to accept being gluten free if it mean that I will feel better. :)

  118. Sydney

    I am celiac and let me tell you today was one of those days there was nothing in the house, my stomach hurts cause I hadn’t eaten all day and I just sat down and cried because i was so over having a body that hated me. After crying and some scrambled eggs made by my loving mother (who helps me every day in an effort to feed me enough food to keep me full through school, homework and a very demanding cheerleading career), I googled gf for hope in a dreary day and found you. I had never heard of you and I am glad I now have. Thank you for hope at the end of a long day!