Ask the Celiac Dietitian – Selena De Vries, RD

  • “I remember the day as if it were yesterday. It was the day where someone else (besides my partner) attempted to cook gluten free for me.”

Healthbean NutritionMy diagnosis inspired me to become a Registered Dietitian who specializes in supporting celiacs. I am here to help!

GET the CHECKLIST that makes it easier for friends and family to safely, cook for you!

Do you have a question for Selena? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page or click here.

Selena Continues

cooking for celiac 3As I said, I remember the day as if it were yesterday.  Gut wrenching, butterflies in my stomach, twisty knots….I was a nervous wreck. You would have never known that was how I was feeling though.  On the outside, I seemed like my always, happy self.

It was a big day for me, though. I knew it was a step I had to make in my life as a celiac because being social at events involving food with our friends and family is such a large part of our happiness and well-being.

Although being a Dietitian has helped me understand the complexities of the gluten free diet, sometimes it does make the celiac in me a bit more anxious.  Only because, I know how easy it is to accidentally cross contaminate a dish with gluten, how easy it can be to misread a label, and how a minuscule crumb is enough to cause damage in my small intestine.

It just isn’t realistic, nor healthy I believe, to never eat out again. Unfortunately, advice to, literally, never eat out again has been given out by health professionals in my community.

How to help friends and family who want to prepare gluten-free food for you.

1. Have an honest conversation with them about celiac disease.

 explaining celiac diseaseBe upfront about your worries and concerns with allowing them to cook for you.

Tell them if it causes you excess worry or anxiety.  Take the time to explain celiac disease and the seriousness of it. And, educate them on the gluten free diet. Imagine a grain of rice split into three pieces.  It is just one of those pieces that can cause small intestinal damage in someone with celiac disease.  And, although, the individual with celiac disease may or may not experience symptoms, the damage will still be done.

Hopefully, they are open to listening and learning and do not become defensive.  If loved ones do become defensive, it may not be the best time to allow them to cook for you as it will be risky.  Rather, invite them to your home and, gently, continue to try and educate them on the risks and seriousness of celiac disease.

2. Suggest that they cook the whole meal gluten free for you.

 gluten-free mealExplain how much how much this would mean to you.   It’s nice to feel like everyone else, be included in the whole meal, and to forget (if only for a few hours) that you have a food restriction.  It also reduces the risk of cross contamination, significantly. If aren’t able to  cook the whole meal gluten free, ask that they prepare the gluten-free food first, before making gluten-filled dishes.

3. Suggest that they start with simple gluten-free foods.

simple gluten-free foods

• Fresh vegetables (or frozen with no sauce)
• Fresh fruits (or frozen with no sauce)
• Plain, unseasoned meats, fish, plain tofu, eggs, blocks of cheese (grate yourself), or  plain, gluten free beans/legumes (bought in a package or canned)
• Fresh herbs or dried single ingredient herbs
• Oils, uncontaminated butter
• Vinegar (however, do not use malt vinegar as it is not gluten free)
• Honey/maple syrup, uncontaminated sugar

Explain that these are the safest gluten-free foods to start cooking with for individuals with celiac disease.

Read five more strategies HERE • Ask Selena a Question HERE

Healthbean Nutrition Celiac Disease Specialist A

Living in the Okanagan or anywhere in British Columbia? View Selena’s services or book an appointment!


  • “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)

selena devries healthbean nutrition gluten free

  • 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

Selena De Vries RD, Celiac Disease Specialist

Selena De Vries RD, Celiac Disease Specialist

  • “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.