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Hi Clara.  I can relate to your sense of confusion, overwhelm by all this information.  I, too, am a relative "newbie".  Diagnosed last year after I had a sudden, severe bout of digestion problems.  And please don't feel bad about not knowing about these issues before.  I, too, also had never heard the word Celiac Disease before the doctor mentioned it, and I am over 60.  Celiac disease can be "triggered" (or activated) much later in life and through no fault of your own.  Life is a classroom and we all learn at our own pace.  

A few words of advice:

Make sure you get a TTG blood test (it tests for gluten antibodies in your system).  If it is above normal range or positive, ask your doctor for a referral to a gastroenterologist specialist so you can get an upper endoscopy to confirm that you do indeed have celiac disease.  There are many gastro specialists in Chandler or Phoenix, close to your town. (BTW, you will need to keep eating gluten every day BEFORE the endoscopy to get an accurate result.)  If your TTG blood test numbers are high, abnormal, don't be alarmed.  They will drop dramatically once you adopt a gluten-free diet. (In my case, it took about 6 months on a gluten-free diet to see my numbers return to the "normal" TTG range.)

If you do have celiac disease, you must eliminate ALL gluten from your diet for the rest of your life to allow your system to heal and prevent future damage to your body.   You cannot just "cut down" on gluten consumption or think it safe to eat it "occasionally" or "accidentally". 

In my case, I found that the simplest, easiest way to avoid all gluten, even "accidental" exposure, was to simply buy, cook, and nothing but fresh, raw food (mostly fish, un-breaded chicken, vegetables and fruits).  I decided to do that because reading and deciphering labels/label ingredients was just too time-consuming, stressful and so many processed, packaged foods (even condiments, salad dressings)--even those labeled "gluten-free"--either aren't gluten-free and/or are full of unhealthy junk food/fillers and far too expensive.  I also don't go to restaurants (even carry out) because so many restaurants that tout "gluten free" menus use shared grills/cutting boards, exposing food to cross-contamination with gluten.  Also, make sure any medications you must take are gluten-free.  

If you do not have celiac disease but, instead, an allergy to gluten, you can use the tips on this website to help you reduce/avoid gluten.  Best of luck on your healing journey!!





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