Celiac Disease Self-Care
If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, you’re probably familiar with the gluten-free diet. For people with celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet is an essential part of managing the disease. But the gluten-free diet is quite restrictive, which can lead to feelings of treatment burnout. That’s where celiac disease self-care comes in.
For people with celiac disease, self-care is incredibly important for managing the emotional side effects of following such a restrictive diet. This article will provide some strategies you can use to engage in self-care with celiac disease.
What is Self-Care?
Simply put, self-care is the process of taking care of yourself. Contrary to what many people believe, self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent. It’s a critical part of maintaining your mental health so that you can do your job, care for others, and do everything you need to do in a day.
While self-care is important for everyone, for people with celiac disease, self-care is even more important. Following a strict gluten-free diet can feel very isolating, and the physical symptoms you get if you accidentally eat something with gluten in it are painful and unpleasant.
In fact, studies show that sticking to a gluten-free diet can feel more difficult than treatments for other common conditions, which can sometimes lead to not following the gluten-free diet at all. This demonstrates how important self-care is to effectively manage celiac disease.
Tips for Celiac Disease Self-Care
Self-care can look different for everyone, and only you can determine what self-care activities will be most beneficial for you. Here are four celiac disease self-care activities that you may find helpful.
Work with a Celiac Dietitian
One of the most difficult parts of having celiac disease is learning how to follow a gluten-free diet. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. A celiac dietitian can provide valuable advice about how to follow a gluten-free diet. When you work with a celiac dietitian, you’ll not only learn how to follow a gluten-free diet at home but also how to follow a gluten-free diet when traveling and eating out.
At Blue Tree Nutrition, we have years of experience working with people with celiac disease. Click here to get in touch and book an appointment with our dietitian.
Join a Celiac Disease Support Group
Having celiac disease and having to follow a gluten-free diet can feel very lonely and isolating. Consider joining a celiac disease support group to meet other people who will understand exactly what you’re going through.
To find a celiac disease support group in your area, visit the National Celiac Association website to search for support near you.
Despite your best efforts to eat gluten-free, there are going to be times that you accidentally eat gluten and end up with unpleasant symptoms. In these moments, try to be gentle with yourself. You’re doing your best, and you have nothing to be ashamed of.
A practice that can help with self-kindness is self-compassion. There are three important elements of self-compassion:
- Self-kindness vs. self-judgement
- Common humanity vs. isolation
With self-kindness, you extend the same kindness to yourself that you would extend to a loved one in a similar situation. This means that instead of getting down on yourself for accidentally eating gluten, you go easy on yourself and remind yourself that you’re not a bad person for accidentally eating gluten.
With common humanity, you recognize that you’re not the only person with celiac disease to have “glutened” themselves. Accidentally eating gluten is a common experience with celiac disease, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure at managing your symptoms.
Finally, mindfulness means taking a balanced approach to your negative emotions. Mindfulness means being non-judgemental and simply observing your thoughts and feelings without seeking to suppress or deny them.
If you do accidentally eat gluten, try extending self-compassion towards yourself rather than getting down on yourself.
Develop a Self-Care Plan
Self-care can often fall by the wayside if we don’t actively plan for it. Sit down and list all the self-care activities you enjoy and plan to make time to complete a few per week.
You may also find it helpful to develop a self-care plan to care for yourself after accidentally eating gluten. This could include some simple meals that are easy on your gut, resting, and using a heat pack to soothe your digestive system.
If you’re living with celiac disease, self-care is an important part of staying well. From joining a support group to showing yourself self-compassion, self-care is vital for your mental health when living with celiac disease.
If you’re newly diagnosed with celiac disease or if you’re struggling with the gluten-free diet, a celiac dietitian can help. At Blue Tree Nutrition, we have experience working with many people with celiac disease. Click here to get in touch and book an appointment with our dietitian today.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist - CDN, RDN
My name is Valerie Polley. I am a Indianapolis-based registered dietitian and owner of Blue Tree Nutrition. I consult with clients both local and far away.
I have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Purdue University and I have been practicing for 20 years.
I thoroughly enjoy helping clients through their gut health journey. I see a range of GI issues including, but not limited to celiac disease, IBS and SIBO. I also specialize in the FODMAP elimination diet.
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