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I've been devouring books, blogs, forum posts, and any other sort of information i can get my hands on about celiac disease and starting a gluten-free diet. However, every time i go to actually put one foot in front of the other and stop eating gluten i just feel so overwhelmed. i know i NEED to do it, and desperately want to, but I just have no idea where to begin. so, any suggestions? any baby steps that can help me just make the plunge?

i have full support from my boyfriend (whom i share most meals with) but he's at just as much of a loss as i am on where to start.

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Look through your cupboard and throw out any thing that has gluten in it and then start again. Get that book "Gluten free for Dummies" by Dana Korn -that is helpful. I'm in Australia and the coeliac society puts out a little card with what we can't have that fits in your wallet- If you can find something like that its helpful too!

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First, have you been tested for celiac? The blood tests do not work if you go gluten-free and if the diet works, you won't want to go back to eating gluten. You need to know if you have the autoimmunity.

Once you throw away or give away all the gluten in the house, go to the grocery store and shop the OUTSIDE of the store, where the produce, milk, cheeses, meats, fresh fish, fruits, eggs, potatoes and other naturally gluten-free foods are. You may make a brief excursion to the middle for rice and plain beans if you promise not to linger. ;) Avoid the baked goods section entirely; it will only offer needless temptations. At the end of the trip you should have a cart full of naturally gluten-free whole foods. Stay simple at first. It's easy to tell that a potato, a banana, or a head of broccoli is gluten-free.

Make your meals from home-cooked meats, fresh vegetables, rice or potatoes, and have some fruit for dessert. Start simple, like a baked chicken, baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli. Have a big chef salad for lunch, with cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing. Make eggs, fruit, and home-fried potatoes for breakfast. Snack on a handful of nuts or an apple.

Once you're more used to the diet, track down some gluten-free bread, learn to read labels to identify safe processed foods, or try your hand at gluten-free baking.

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You can't take baby steps. Your health is at risk every bite you take of gluten. This is an autoimmune disease and it's serious. I don't want to scare you but you have to go cold turkey.

I'm going to make a list of products I like for you to try. Gluten free is overwhelming at first but after awhile it becomes old hat. If you think about it, most of the stuff you eat for meals is gluten free or pretty close to it. A salad for lunch with meats, cheese and dressing is pretty easy to get meat without gluten (most lunchmeats are safe) and salad dressing without it or just do oil and vinegar. For dinner if you cook a meat, some starch like potatoes or rice and a veggie that can get you going for awhile.

Eating out is much more tricky than cooking at home. Spend time reading the restaurants forum on here. Find a few restaurants in your area and check if they have a gluten free menu. If they don't, go in there or call when it's not busy and politely ask the manager to help you figure out what you can eat there.

Here are products I love that are kid tested with my celiac son and non celiac daughter.

Tinkyada pasta

De Boles gluten free pasta- great angel hair

If you get a good pasta under your belt that is huge because so many dishes use pasta and it's such a good quick food. I'm Italian so pasta was a must for me.

I love everything Glutino and Gluten Free Pantry.

Gluten Free Pantry Basic Sandwich bread makes a nice white loaf of bread that doesn't crumble and tastes very normal. I bought a gluten free breadmaker from Breadman but I made it in my mixer and a loaf pan for a long time. I let it rise much longer than it says on the box. It doesn't rise in half an hour for me.

Gluten Free Pantry French bread and Pizza mix is great pizza crust and you can make it in about 20 minutes.

Glutino has great pretzels, cookies, etc. I love their wafer cookies.

Gluten Free Pantry muffin and scone mix makes incredible flaky light scones.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free cake, brownies and cookies are really good. I keep the mixes on hand all the time.

Kinnikinnick has good donuts and muffins etc but they have a lot of complicated ingredients and it doesn't always settle with everyone.

There are lots of safe barbecue sauces so you can make barbecue chicken in your oven.

Lawry's seasoned salt is safe and I love to use that with lemon pepper to season beef or pork for pan frying or grilling.

Mexican food is super easy. Corn tortillas, beans, taco meat. Just be careful with seasonings you buy premade.

It also depends on how sick you are right now. If you are very sick, then you need to have a whole foods simple clean diet to promote healing. The intestines aren't producing all the enzymes you need if they are damaged and your body needs great fuel to heal all that damage.

I agree that you need to throw away all gluten in your house. Crumbs and flour will CC your kitchen.

Also check all your soaps, shampoos, etc. for wheat ingredients. You can PM me for product suggestions if you want to. It's very hard to make sure you wash off the gluten from shampoo, soap or lotion before you touch your food.

You CAN do this and we are here to help you. Jump in to the gluten free pool. The water's fine!

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