If you are recently diagnosed with coeliac disease, it’s time to start your journey toward feeling better! While it might seem overwhelming at first, with a bit of help from Coeliac NZ you can be well on your way toovercoming the daily challenges and taking action to live a healthy life.
First week – where to start:
First and foremost, don’t stress yourself out. You’ve come to the right place for information, and we recommend allowing yourself time to digest everything (excuse the pun!) before overloading yourself with new information. There are a lot of opinions out there on how to live your best gluten-free life. Over time, you’ll learn which information is relevant to you.
However, do start a strict gluten-free diet immediately! Check what food you have in your home that is entirely free of wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Sit down and start a shopping list of ‘gluten free’ labelled foods. You’ll be surprised at how many alternatives are out there. If you need inspiration, check out the Eating Gluten Free section of our website to find out about ‘setting up your GF pantry’.
Coeliac New Zealand produces heaps of great resources to support your coeliac journey. As a member you can get access to a gluten free handbook, fact sheets, a guide to reading food labels, recipes and, access to support groups. You’ll also receive a twice-yearly dedicated living gluten free magazine – Coeliac Link as well as monthly digital newsletters.
Join Coeliac NZ TODAY using the link here:coeliac.org.nz/member-benefits
Adapting to your new gluten free lifestyle early on is really important so that your coeliac symptoms and quality of life can improve. You might find the ‘understanding food labels’ and ‘understanding nutrient deficiency’ on the Coeliac NZ Youtube channel particularly helpful.
First month – understanding your gluten free diet:
Now that you are starting to understand how to stick to a coeliac-safe gluten free diet, it’s time to take care of your health. Talk to your GP about the possibility of getting certain gluten-free food products on prescription. (There’s more information about the PHARMAC part-subsidy on the website)
Talk to your GP about being tested for any vitamin/mineral deficiencies and associated conditions so you can get those sorted, too. We recommend you ask for a bone density scan to check for osteopanenia or osteoporosis. Additionally, check whether you or your child are entitled to either a Disability Allowance, a Child Disability Allowance, or both.
Get your family on board and encourage them to be screened for Coeliac Disease. Immediate family members have a 1 in 10 chance of also having the condition, so you may want to be sure.
While you’re getting the family involved, it’s also a good time to reorganise your kitchen and pantry. Coeliac NZ Ambassador Alana Scott has prepared a helpful video to get your started. Ensure your gluten-free food is clearly marked and help other members of your household to understand the importance of avoiding cross contamination.
You may also want to use the Ingredient List booklet that you’ll receive when you become a member. With this booklet, you’ll be able to identify foods that aren’t marked gluten-free but are. Therefore, as you grow more confident, you’ll be able to expand your diet!
Our members section contains local Coeliac support contacts and group activities you may want to get involved with. Check out the events in your local area here.
As you thrive in your new lifestyle, make sure you repeat the Coeliac serology blood test six- and twelve-months post diagnosis for the first year. This test measures blood antibodies which are usually elevated but should gradually return to normal. Once they return to normal, you can use them as an indicator of gluten exposure.
Let your confidence take hold and enjoy the experience of eating out! You can find our recommended list of gluten-free restaurants, cafes, and eateries in the member’s area. We welcome your contributions to this list.
Consider becoming a volunteer. Now that you’ve learned so much, you may want to support others and make new lifelong friends. Check out how to Get Involved in your local area as a Coeliac NZ volunteer.
Also, don’t forget to keep up your membership to Coeliac NZ so we can continue to advocate for better conditions for all coeliacs.