3 Things to Do When First Diagnosed with Celiac Disease – Selena De Vries, RD
Being diagnosed with celiac disease can be very overwhelming. Many of my clients have told me that they were informed to ‘google’ the diet and were then shown the door.
- Selena De Vries is dedicated to helping individuals who are struggling with digestive issues find food freedom. Selena understands that celiac disease not only effects one’s physical health but also effects one’s emotional health. Using an integrative approach in the management of digestive health conditions, she provides support for those with celiac disease/gluten sensitivity and nutrition coaching for other digestive health conditions.
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Being diagnosed with celiac disease can be very overwhelming. Firstly, as unfortunate as it is, there is not much support out there when your doctor hands you the diagnosis of celiac disease. Many of my clients have told me that they were informed to ‘google’ the diet and were then shown the door.
I remember when I was diagnosed, my doctor said “well you’re a dietitian so this should be easy for you.”
Yes, that was it.
I definitely feel I had a leg up than others, for sure. But, it was still very difficult for me. The first year I learned so much more than the basic gluten free diet. From reading labels correctly, to correcting nutrient deficiencies, to navigating social situations, the learning curve is steep. And, of course, when you live a disease everyday, you see things through a different lens.
It is not as simple as ‘googling’ the gluten free diet. And, in fact, I would say it is much more dangerous to google the information as there is a lot of inaccurate information on the internet, especially when it comes to gluten free and celiac disease.
So, if you have just been diagnosed, take these 3 steps to get your health back on track:
One. Seek Out Accurate Information from Dietitian Experts in the Area of Gluten Free and Celiac Disease
Just as there are doctors that specialize in gastrointestinal disorders (gastroenterologists), there are dietitians that specialize in certain areas as well. And, when it comes to celiac disease, it’s very important that you use a dietitian with this expertise.
Registered Dietitians with expertise in the gluten free diet are the nutrition professionals you want to turn to in the case of celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy. Not only have they taken a 5 year degree program to become registered as a dietitian in their particular province, they also have additional expertise in the gluten free diet helping to get you on the right track right away.
Avoid spending unnecessary dollars on a bunch of supplements, unnecessary and inaccurate ‘food intolerance’ tests, unnecessary microbiome assessments and wisely invest your health dollars, simply, in a dietitian.
How to Work with a Dietitian 1:1 or in Group Settings
- Private Practice Dietitians – If you have third party benefit plans, private practice dietitians are typically covered and you could be reimbursed for your time together. At Healthbean Nutrition, we offer direct billing to insurance companies.
- Public Health Dietitians – If you live near a large city, you may live near a specialized celiac center. For example, in Hamilton Ontario, Macmaster University has a celiac center. Ask your doctor if you can be referred to one of these as they typically have dietitian experts on staff.
- Save on Food Dietitians – Dietitians at this grocery store hold group grocery store tours and can help you navigate the store so you can choose safe and healthy products for your health condition. They are free.
- If you are interested in a tour for the Kelowna group, you can sign up here.
Invest in Resources Written by Registered Dietitians with Expertise in the Gluten-Free Diet
- Shelley Case, RD, is a well-known Canadian dietitian that specializes in celiac disease and she has written a book on everything celiac disease and it is well worth the investment.
- Real Life with Celiac Disease written by Melinda Dennis, RD is also a great resource.
- Tricia Thompson from is another well-known dietitian and runs a website called gluten free watchdog which tests gluten free products submitted from the public using third party testing. She publishes whether the product is safe to consume or not and includes detailed information on the tested product.
Two. Eat Single Ingredient, Whole Foods
- Yes, you need to learn to read labels like a pro. It’s a life changing skill that every celiac needs to nail down. A simple tool to start learning how to read labels can be found here.
- For now, though, and especially if if you are super overwhelmed, take a deep breath.
- For the first few weeks while you let the diagnosis sink in and while you wait to see a dietitian, you can simply choose to eat whole foods that have no ingredient lists to navigate. And, it doesn’t take a professional chef certification to prepare a simple, delicious meal made from whole foods.
- Fresh produce items like apples, kale, potatoes, beets, oranges, avocado, tomatoes, plain poultry, fish, tofu, eggs, have no ingredient lists and can be easy to prepare.
- You can prepare fast meals on one tray, called sheet pan meals which can be very tasty. For example, lay down pepper and onion strips, and sweet potato cubes on a baking pan. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of oil. Roast at 350F for ~25-30minutes. Top with over medium eggs, a few cherry tomatoes and avocado cubes and you have a hash bowl ready in 30 minutes.
Three. Find Support Groups
- A diagnosis of celiac disease can be very socially isolating. It may even increase the risk of depression due to the significant challenge of adapting to the gluten free lifestyle (beyond celiac).
- The Canadian Celiac Association is the voice for all Canadians living with celiac disease. They are an amazing organization and so I would encourage you to connect with them in the following ways:
- In addition, many cities have free celiac support groups. Connect with them as well!
Read Selena’s Original Article Here!
Selena De Vries is a Registered Dietitian living with celiac disease who specializes in the dietary management of that condition. She will be hosting a ‘virtual office hour’ on the Canadian Celiac Association Facebook Group every Friday from 12 – 1pm Pacific Standard Time (3pm – 4pm Eastern Standard Time). Selena will post at 12pm stating she is online. Ask your nutrition related questions in the comment section within her post. Arrive early and post your question!
Selena is licensed to practice as a dietitian in British Columbia and her services are available to anyone in Canada.
Living in the Okanagan or anywhere in British Columbia? View Selena’s services or book an appointment!
- Contact Selena for in-person or on-line support
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Celiac Total Health Package – 5 sessions
- Includes one initial assessment, 3 follow ups and a meal planning assessment along with a one week meal plan. Selena will recommend labs/procedure to identify any underlying nutrient deficiencies, will provide you with all the education you need to feel confident going gluten free and get you feeling better throughout our appointments, and most importantly, help you prepare and choose healthy GF products and get healthy GF meals on the table that the whole family can enjoy. Book your appointment or contact Selena with questions.
Eating Out With Confidence – 3 sessions
- Are you avoiding eating out due to the fear of being ‘glutened?” If so, this package is for you. Selena will provide you with education and resources that will improve your confidence in eating out safely. You will also get access to her on the go! For example, if you are eating out at a restaurant and need help in ordering your meal to reduce risk of being contaminated, she will walk you through what you need to ask to ensure your meal is at low risk of being contaminated. Book your appointment or contact Selena with questions.
Meal Planning Initial Assessment – 1 hour In-person – Online, video chat or by phone
- If you are struggling with getting healthy meals on the table that everyone can eat, this is for you. Selena will conduct a meal planning assessment and based on your input, she will put together a sample one week meal plan along with brand name food recommendations. You will get recommendations that makes healthy eating (with food restrictions), convenient, healthy and delicious. Book your appointment or contact Selena with questions.
Celiac Initial Consultation – 1 hour 30 minutes In-person, online, video chat or by phone
- Please book if you have been newly diagnosed with celiac disease or if you have celiac disease but are still struggling with symptoms. Selena will conduct a nutrition assessment & will provide an emailed lifestyle plan within 24 hours detailing the nutrition plan going forward. Supplements and lab tests will be recommended on an individual basis and the lifestyle plan will also include educational handouts, recipe ideas, and brand name food recommendations. Allow a minimum of 3 days advance booking as a 3 day food journal is required prior to the appointment. Book your appointment or contact Selena with questions.
Celiac Dietitian on Demand – 30 minutes – Online, video chat or by phone
- This is not for newly diagnosed celiacs or those who are struggling with digestive symptoms. If this is you, please book the initial consult (either celiac or digestive health). This is for you if your symptoms are fairly under control and you have brief questions. For example, a question on supplement use, the inclusion of GF oats in the diet, if you are grocery shopping and want to confirm if a brand name product is gluten free and safe to consume, if you are at a restaurant and want to know how to order an item that will be at low risk for being contaminated, or if you have questions on GF travel. Book your appointment or contact Selena with questions.
Initial Digestive Health Consult – 1 hour 15 minutes – In-person, online, video chat or by phone
- Please book if you are struggling with digestive health concerns or have been diagnosed with a digestive health condition (if you have been diagnosed with celiac, please book the celiac specific consult). Selena will conduct a nutrition assessment & will provide an emailed lifestyle plan within 24 hours detailing the nutrition plan going forward. Supplement, lab tests and lifestyle recommendations will be recommended on an individual basis and the lifestyle plan will also include educational handouts, recipe ideas, and brand name food recommendations. Allow a minimum of 3 days advance booking as a 3 day food journal is required prior to the appointment. Book your appointment or contact Selena with questions.
45 Minute Follow Up Appointment – In-person, online, video chat or by phone
This service can only be booked after an initial consultation has been completed. We will identify how the individual is doing on goals, barriers they may be facing, and steps to take going forward. Book your appointment or contact Selena with questions.
- “I contacted Selena when I still wasn’t feeling well a year after my celiac diagnosis. I’d read so much on the Internet I thought I knew everything I needed to know. I was wrong.
- Selena has important advice on how to do GF properly (it’s not as straightforward as I thought) and for regaining your health. She is organized, punctual, and professional. And she has celiac disease herself , so she gets it.
- I think a lot of us, by the time we’re diagnosed, have had more than our share of health care practitioners and may not want to bother with a dietitian.
- Selena played a crucial role in my recovery, and I would highly recommend her, whether you’re newly diagnosed or just trying to feel better.”
- ~ Charlene (long-distance celiac disease client)
- HEALTHBEAN NUTRITION specializes in digestive health. We deliver easy to digest, bite-size pieces of information so our clients can, finally, achieve the healthy & happy digestive system they’ve been striving for. Learn more ...
- HEALTHBEAN PHILOSOPHY– Selena employs elimination diets and/or a specific diets in accordance with her clients’ conditions, and only when deemed necessary. She reserves advice about the gluten-free diet for those who require it – not those choosing to follow the diet as a lifestyle choice. Expect clear, concise instructions on the appropriate diet for you and, maybe even some myth busting! Learn more …
Selena knows first-hand how her undiagnosed celiac disease affected her physical and emotional health. After telling her that, “Well, you have celiac disease,” her MD suggested she, “google the diet,” and out the door she went. Sound familiar?
That’s why Selena established Healthbean Nutrition. She is dedicating her education, personal insights and her own recovery to helping her fellow celiacs make this enormous lifestyle transition – and find joy in eating again! Learn more …
Selena’s Road to Diagnosis
- “When I was going through university, I was exhausted, ALL the time. I had to drag myself out to hang out with friends, and if I had it my way I would have spent most days in bed sleeping. It was not unknown for me to sleep 12-16 hours a day. Call me crazy, but I related it all to the busy-ness of school. I was even checked for anemia at one point (common with celiacs) and I was ‘fine.’
- The symptoms continued through school and the brain fog was undeniable. I distinctly remember during my dietetic internship (like a medical residency except everything is nutrition based) at Kelowna General Hospital sitting in the office, charting on a patient and, literally, feeling like my brain was so fuzzy that I could barely keep my eyes from nodding off. It was awful.
- Another thing I didn’t pay much attention to, was bowels. I was always constipated. Never the other way around. Never. And, I also remember mentioning this to my gastroenterologist just before the endoscopy and he said ‘oh, well with your very low antibody levels and constipation, there is a very low chance that you are actually celiac but we will proceed with the endoscopy since you’re prepped and ready to go.’
- The piece of paper I received after the endoscopy said to follow up with my GP. I did follow up with my GP and the report came back positive for celiac disease. My GP said “well, you’re celiac. But, you’re a dietitian, right, so this should be easy for you!”
- Perhaps I had a leg up in the nutrition part of it, but I think we all know that the gluten free diet is not a walk in the park. And, although, I am so appreciative of the medical care I received, it did open my eyes to the lack of knowledge within the medical community when it came to celiac disease and the lack of support offered to individuals with celiac disease.
That’s how Healthbean Nutrition was born!
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- *Information and perspectives posted on The Celiac Scene are intended to provide general information, without independent verification on the part of The Celiac Scene for the accuracy of the information provided to it. The information is specifically not intended to be a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by your physician or other health care professional. Always consult your own physician or other health care professionals about any medical questions, diagnosis, or treatment, especially before trying any diet. Healthbean Nutrition does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on any content contained herein.