In some cases, people that have been diagnosed with celiac disease may have trouble absorbing nutrients from food. This is because the lining of the gut if often severely damaged because of eating gluten. Poor absorption of nutrients can lead to nutritional deficiencies such as iron deficiency anemia.
Treatment with a gluten-free diet will help heal the gut and improve the absorption of nutrients from food. However, some people might need specific vitamin supplements. Always check with your doctor for specific advice regarding your personal situation. Any supplements needed should be prescribed by your doctor.
That said, here are some simple guidelines with regard to eating a balanced diet that will help you get the vitamins and minerals you need.
- When going gluten-free, adopt a diet filled with a variety of naturally gluten-free foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, as well as gluten-free grains. Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients.
- Avoid overly processed foods, and keep refined sugar and saturated fat intakes to a minimum.
- Eat regular meals based on starchy carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, yams, gluten-free grains such as millet, quinoa, gluten-free breads and gluten-free pasta. These foods are a good source of energy and can also provide fiber, calcium, iron and B vitamins.
- Fruit and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Consider making fruit smoothies and/or green-drink smoothies with greens such as kale and spinach, which are full of vitamins and nutrients.
- Reduce and/or eliminate sugar and sugary foods. Sugar is often added to sweets, biscuits, cakes and full sugar fizzy drinks.
- Eat plenty of fiber. Good gluten-free sources include brown rice, high fiber, multigrain gluten-free breads, peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, and potatoes in their skins.
- Cut down on salt. Foods particularly high in salt include processed foods, ready meals and snacks. Avoid adding salt to meals and try using fresh herbs and spices to add flavor instead.
- As with any balanced diet, moderation and portion control are extremely important for people living with celiac disease and eating gluten-free. Daily exercise is also necessary for managing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Following a healthy balanced diet will help you get the vitamins and minerals that you need.
Remember: a gluten-free diet cannot replace a formal consultation, diagnosis or recommendation from a physician or trained healthcare professional. Dietitians knowledgeable in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet play a critical role in the management of celiac disease and/or gluten intolerance.
Sticking to a gluten-free diet can be tough. Consider finding a celiac disease or gluten intolerance support group in your area or online. Having a support system of people who are facing the same challenges is important. As always, check with your doctor for the latest tests and research available for adopting and thriving on a gluten-free diet.