It is not always easy to stick to a gluten-free diet. The good news is that there are many resources for folks trying to eat gluten-free. One of your best resources is your local Celiac Disease support group. Support groups help you to feel normal and provide you with a place to talk about the issues you face every day. In addition, your local support group is an invaluable source of information and experience. You don't have to reinvent the wheel if you can instead rely on others to help discover new places to eat and shop. Since Celiac Disease affects approximately 1% of the American population, most cities or counties have a support group. These groups also welcome individuals who have wheat allergies or gluten-intolerance.
It is always a good idea to seek out a support group for Celiac Disease when you are in the process of being diagnosed. Some doctors in the United States aren't as educated about Celiac Disease as we might like, so it is important to find a physician who is experienced and knowledgeable about Celiac Disease and the many related health issues. Your local support group is an excellent way to find a physician who can help you get a diagnosis.
If you suspect that you have Celiac Disease, you may be tempted to try going gluten-free on your own to see if it helps. Many physicians, however, advise against this since it is necessary to have gluten in your system to have positive results for tests such as biopsies and blood work. You should follow your physician's instructions regarding your particular tests. An intestinal biopsy done via endoscopy has long been considered the gold standard for diagnosis; however, it is also essential to have these biopsy slides read by a pathologist who is experienced in diagnosing Celiac Disease.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, symptoms of Celiac Disease include, but are not limited to:
If you experience these symptoms, you should seek out an experienced gastroenterologist for a diagnosis. Many primary care physicians will be happy to refer you to an expert in the area. Ideally, a gastroenterologist who is experienced with Celiac Disease diagnoses will also work with a nutritionist who is familiar with the gluten-free diet, as your diagnosis is the beginning of a long period of learning and education.