Maybe you’re about to host a dinner party, but have a relative who has celiac disease and must follow a strict gluten-free diet, which you know little about. Or perhaps you or your child have just been diagnosed with celiac disease. How can you begin to learn about it all?
Luckily, there’s plenty of online resources, including funded charity and research-led information, to support anyone who needs to follow a gluten-free diet. Read on to find out which websites can help you educate yourself about celiac disease and a gluten-free diet.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition where the body attacks its own tissue when gluten is eaten. This causes serious damage to the small intestine, meaning the body cannot absorb vital nutrients.
Three common symptoms of celiac disease are bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, but there is a wide range of other symptoms, such as unintentional weight loss and anemia. If you suspect you may have celiac disease, consult your doctor for a blood test to diagnose or rule out the condition.
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Those with celiac disease suffer adverse reactions to eating gluten, which may or may not be symptomatic.
The Importance of a Gluten-Free Diet for Celiac Patients
Following a strict gluten-free diet is the only way to manage celiac disease (there is no cure), to help reduce or eliminate symptoms, and to prevent the long-term complications of the disease.
If someone with celiac disease does not follow a strict gluten-free diet, they can be at risk of developing osteoporosis (weakening of the bones), iron-deficient anemia, and other health conditions.
The 4 Best Websites to Learn About Celiac Disease
Understanding celiac disease and getting to grips with a gluten-free diet can seem daunting at first, but there are some reputable, well-researched, and useful websites available to support you.
Here is a selection of informative websites to help you understand celiac disease:
Based in California, Celiac Disease Foundation was founded in 1990 and has a specific mission to fund and support various areas in celiac disease, including:
- Medical research
- Patient and healthcare provider education
- Public policy advocacy (support).
A renowned website with educational resources, this non-profit organization offers thorough advice on what celiac disease is, how to get tested and diagnosed, and managing the disease.
With a whole section dedicated to “gluten-free living”, you will find a vast directory of recipes, safe medicines and supplements, plus a guide on dining out and social eating with celiac disease. Celiac Disease Foundation also strives to spread awareness and research about celiac disease, check out the “research and resources” section.
Founded in 1995, Celiac.com is also a Californian-based web resource full of news and lifestyle support for those diagnosed with or looking after individuals with celiac disease.
The website is a great place to find a community of other celiac patients who share their experiences and advice on the blog. You can also join discussions about your experience and seek advice from other celiac patients in the forum section of the website.
If you’re looking for a quick reference on celiac disease and advice, take a look at the FAQs page. An easy to read quick guide on the basics of the disease, including its diagnosis, testing methods, the gluten-free diet, and more.
For a more thorough read, the website’s Articles section is packed with news, general information about celiac disease, getting diagnosed, and even advice on what to do if you accidentally ingest gluten.
Celiac.com also offers a newsletter service, which is easy to sign up with your email address.
Harvard Health Publishing is a reputable medical site, being the consumer health education division of Harvard Medical School. Publications use the expertise of over 11,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School, and its affiliated hospitals, so you can be assured that you’ll find only trustworthy health information on the site.
If you like science and researched-based articles, then you’ll likely enjoy reading the dedicated page on celiac disease. The easy-to-understand feature page offers a simple diagram of the gut, along with the signs and symptoms of celiac disease, plus a simplified section on the “dos and don’ts” of gluten-free eating.
It’s a straightforward, self-contained article about the condition, which can be quickly digested and understood by anyone seeking information on celiac disease.
People of all ages can have celiac disease, with babies to the elderly being diagnosed with the condition. The Children’s National is a great online resource for anyone who has a child or is catering for a child with celiac disease.
The Children’s National itself is a pediatric health system based in Washington, D.C., and has earned a global reputation for pioneering new therapies and treatments. Its dedicated page on Pediatric Celiac Disease will give parents and caregivers support and advice with its easy-to-understand information.
A useful resource on this page is the “foods to avoid for children with celiac disease” list. This dropdown menu runs through a thorough catalog of foods and ingredients which are unsafe for children (or anyone) with celiac disease, and is followed by the equally useful list of “foods allowed for children with celiac disease”.
The Children’s National also has a care section called the Celiac Disease Program. Here you will find gluten-free events, research news and updates, and how to book an appointment at the pediatric celiac clinic – if you’re in the local area.
There is also a recipe directory full of gluten-free ideas ideal for children.
It’s Not a Diet, it’s a Lifestyle
We’ve heard this phrase many times, pertaining to following a particular eating plan or style in a sustainable, long-term manner. For Celiac sufferers, however, it’s not just a lifestyle–it’s a means of managing a long-term illness.
Using the resources above will help you educate yourself about the disease and what it takes to commit to and support a fully gluten-free lifestyle.
Have you got food intolerances or allergies? These apps for Android and iOS will help you eat and shop more safely.
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