Article written by Chef Varouj, Originally Published in Happy Healthier Women Magazine

I see newly diagnosed gluten sensitive and celiac patients/clients at least twice a week, and all have one thing in common besides the obvious of course; they all feel overwhelmed!

Confused, lost, angry, frustrated, and at a loss, uncertain of their life from this point forward, all they have heard from their consultation with the doctor is all the things they can’t have. And boy, did life just get harder or what? It may seem like it initially, however, I would say… NOT!

We are so programmed to consume everything gluten-full, that our brain is addicted to it just like an alcoholic’s is to booze! No can do is everyone’s first reaction. “I can’t give up bread!” is the first response I get. And I totally understand it. That was my very first sentence uttered when I was first diagnosed. After all I owned a bakery. I lived on bread, croissants, pastries, pizza and pasta.

Here are few pointers to ease you into the gluten free lifestyle…

  1. Rule of thumb; When it comes to gluten sensitivities there is no such a thing as “it’s just a small bite.” or “Just taste it!” what’s a small bite going to do to you? Or it’s my birthday; have to have a piece of cake! NOPE, YOU DON’T!!!
  2. If you are religious, ask for gluten-free (GF) communion wafers. (Many churches now offer GF version.) And yes, a little piece of the wafer once a week, once a month or even once a year is enough to reset your reactions. Gluten sensitivity is a systematic autoimmune disease!!! This means, your immune system can’t tell the difference between a bite and an entire loaf. Hence the importance of the next step.
  3. Eliminate all possibilities for cross- contamination. From kitchen tools, toasters, toaster ovens, ovens, cutting boards, and wooden spoons. Remember, that any regular baking done previously has left residue all over your kitchen and tools, especially the oven.
  4. Clean your pantry from ALL gluten foods. Out of sight, out of mind rule applies here. Many will have cravings for gluten-full foods, especially in the first few weeks. This may be harder if you are the only one in your family on a GF diet, or live with roommates eating the typical American gluten filled diet. Nonetheless, resist temptations.
  5. Be aware of all hidden gluten sources such as some chocolate, licorice, or even prescription medications.
  6. Stop playing the victim! Accept the fact that this is now your lifestyle. The sooner you eliminate ALL gluten from your diet the sooner you start reversing and repairing the damage. Seek help from a qualified professional, such as a Certified Gluten Practitioner.
  7. Inform and educate you family and friends about your new lifestyle and be sure they understand that this is not about you choosing to be “difficult”, or wanting to try “the newest diet.” You have a PERMANENT ALLERGY!!! Be persistent, don’t give up, chances are, they will NOT get it anyways!!
  8. Plan your meals ahead of time. There will be less of a chance of you falling back into old habits when you are not starving. Be sure to have snacks such as fruits and nuts, high quality gluten-free protein shakes make great alternatives to a quick meal replacement on the go, or as a last minute solution.
  9. Look for support groups in your area such as Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), Meet up groups, and any celiac or gluten-free groups for moral support, to bounce back ideas, learn more from each other’s experiences, and maybe exchange a few recipes.
  10. Resist replacing gluten full foods with gluten-free counterparts, again, this will be a little challenging at first, but work toward reducing the extra carbohydrate consumption.

Once again, working with a qualified professional will not only ease your transition into a gluten free lifestyle, it will make it much safer, achieve faster results, and be able to monitor any sudden or unexpected/unwanted changes.

The goal is to feel better, repair and restore damaged tissues and stay on the healthier path.

I would love to hear about your experiences, your thoughts and comments. Or if you have any questions you can reach me direct at chefv @

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