For people suffering from celiac disease, sometimes avoiding gluten is the easiest part of their diagnosis. The social, financial, nutritional, and emotional aspects surrounding the disease cause many of the challenges after receiving a diagnosis.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine becomes inflamed and is unable to absorb nutrients from food properly. This is caused by the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
How prevalent is it?
Approximately 1 percent of the Canadian population has been clinically diagnosed with celiac disease, but that number is misleading due to the large number of undiagnosed cases. This number also does not include people who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or those who suffer from a wheat allergy.
One treatment option
The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet. In order for patients to have the most success in following this diet, it’s important they have the support of their families and society.
What issues do celiac disease patients face?
People with celiac disease can face myriad issues depending on their individual circumstances, but after talking with a few celiac patients and their families, some common themes arise. Those who suffer from celiac disease say there are a lot of misconceptions about celiac disease. Many people don’t understand that it’s a disease, not an allergy.
Some difficulties they encounter include
How can these issues be overcome?
Each person will have his or her own way of overcoming the issues they face while living with celiac disease. A large part of a person’s success will depend on their outlook and support network.
What role does outlook play?
One’s outlook may be the most important aspect of living with celiac disease, or any disease for that matter. Having a positive attitude toward a gluten-free diet is crucial for successfully living with celiac disease.
It’s important not to think about this new diet as restrictive or lacking. Although it may be a challenge at first, these lifestyle changes will make those with celiac disease feel healthier, happier, and more vibrant. As the body finally absorbs nutrients properly, they’ll feel better and regain control of their health. There are so many gluten-free options available now that there’s no need to feel deprived.
Often, people with celiac disease discover that a meal is more about sharing with people they care about, and less about the food that’s on their plate. Once the technical aspects of eating a gluten-free diet are mastered, it simply becomes a new way of life with a little inconvenience thrown in once in a while.
Tips for families
Celiac support groups
There are many associations that provide information and offer support across Canada.
Here’s just a small sample:
Gluten-free tax credit
The Canada Revenue Agency allows people with celiac disease to claim the incremental costs of gluten-free products on their income tax return. The incremental cost is the difference between a regular loaf of bread, for example, and a gluten-free loaf of bread. For more information, go to cra-arc.gc.ca/gluten-free.
Tips for people with celiac disease
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