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Motivating Yourself to Follow Your Gluten Free Diet

Motivating yourself to follow your gluten free diet can be a challenge and requires you to acquire knowledge and develop some mental toughness. Initial reaction after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease can be a mixture of emotions, from relief and self-pity, to helplessness and anger. The upside is that following a gluten free diet effectively manages the condition and increased energy levels and better health will have a beneficial effect on all aspects of your life.

The first thing to do is to find out more about Celiac Disease - knowledge is power! Equip yourself with information about what you can and can’t eat and carry these lists with you everywhere.

Read more about Celiac Disease...

Read my simple gluten free diet food list...

There are many Internet sites dedicated to Celiacs and these are a good way to keep up to date.

Join your country’s Celiac Society and subscribe to their newsletters. If you have questions or concerns about Celiac Disease or a gluten free diet, email them to the Celiac Society.

Find out if you are eligible for assistance from your country’s health-care system, e.g. in the UK you can get gluten free items on prescription if you have Celiac Disease. Make use of professionally qualified dieticians and nutritionists in your area to assist with your gluten free diet. Become an empowered consumer - most food manufacturers have a Customer Care department whose main job is to answer your questions.

The second and possibly more challenging aspect is developing some mental toughness. If you find that you have “weak moments” and make bad food decisions, take some time to think through what was happening at that time, what you were thinking and what you were feeling. Hunger, not wanting to make a fuss or bring attention to yourself, or being under the influence of alcohol are common situations where your ability to make a good decision is reduced. Take time to work out strategies for dealing with these situations and use them.

For example, is it lunch-time at work that is most difficult or when you are socialising with new people that you make mistakes? Making mistakes is how you learn and over time you will become more skilled at recognising potentially difficult situations and handling them successfully. Most of the tips on this site are due to my past mistakes!

Remember to reward yourself for getting it right. Increased energy levels and improved health may be reward enough, however think about what treats you can give yourself for following your diet. (This however does not include an occasional beer or some other danger food! A little DOES hurt and has a negative impact on your long-term health.) I have a permanent store of special biscuits that go really well with my daily flat white coffee! Choose a reward that is right for you and be good to yourself.

Being Celiac has an impact on your life and the people you share it with. You may need to become more aware of the impact of your behaviour on others.

I was told of a shy Celiac who would not order appropriately in restaurants or cafes for fear of embarrassment. This person was on a back-packing holiday with a friend around Europe and would often not eat or eat the wrong food, causing them to be tired and generally unpleasant to be around. The friend knew about the condition and cared about their friend, so began to take responsibility for ordering for them. This put a strain on the relationship and spoiled the holiday for both of them. I think you will agree that this was more a problem with shyness than with being Celiac.

Read more about friends and family and Celiac Disease...

It may be easier to blame being Celiac for your “flaws” and let yourself off with bad behaviour, however this is not going to be good for your relationships and your mental health!

With the increasing diagnosis of Celiac Disease and the need to follow a gluten free diet, it is highly like that you will meet someone else in the same situation. Generally they will be happy to talk to you about their approach and will share their tips and experiences. Realising there are more people in the same situation can help you deal with things more easily. You are not alone!

Stick with the gluten free diet, learn from your mistakes and the benefits to your physical and mental health will be huge and worth every effort.

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