Just Been Diagnosed with Celiac Disease? Now What?

Julie Kostyk, BSc., RD

Julie Kostyk, BSc., RD (cc Times Colonist)

Julie Kostyk, Registered Dietitian, loves to share her knowledge of planning and preparing delicious and nutritious meals to fit any and every lifestyle. Here, she provides us with her best advice on making  a complete – and speedy  – recovery after diagnosis Read more about Julie below …

Receiving a diagnosis of Celiac Disease (CD) is a life-changing event. It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed with all of the dietary changes that go along with it.

CD requires careful management and follow-up to ensure that people maximize their nutrition while minimizing complications. The best way to advocate for your health is to become familiar with current recommendations for managing CD.

There are 6 key elements for the management of patients with Celiac Disease

1. Nutrition assessment and education with a Registered Dietitian (RD) skilled in the management of CD

  • Did you know that referral to a RD is recommended not only at diagnosis of CD, but also at 3 months, annually and anytime there is symptom recurrence?

2. Education about the disease and family testing

  • You are at a higher risk of having associated conditions (such as thyroid diseases) if you have CD. In addition, your first degree relatives have a 10-15% chance of already having, or developing CD, and will benefit from being screened. See Testing for Celiac Disease.

3. Lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet

  • Did you know that as little as 1/60 of a slice of bread may damage your intestine? It has been proven that people adhere better to a strict gluten-free diet when they have ongoing follow-up and support, both through medical professionals and advocacy organizations.

4. Awareness of the increased potential for nutrient deficiencies

  • It is recommended that you are tested for nutrient deficiencies at diagnosis and anytime there is a recurrence of your symptoms. These include tests to monitor your hemoglobin, iron and vitamin B12 levels, as well as any other tests that your doctor or dietitian deem necessary. It is also helpful to be aware of gluten-free foods that provide adequate iron, calcium, vitamin D and fiber to ensure you are meeting your daily needs.

5.  Support through the Canadian Celiac Association

Canadian Celiac Association

  • Anne Wraggett, President of the National Board of the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA), expressed this beautifully in her recent address to the Victoria Regional Dental Hygienists, 
  • “Membership in the CCA has value for both those newly diagnosed or newly gluten-free,  as well as those who are long-time diagnosed and gluten-free. The CCA works on two levels – what I call the grassroots, in other words chapter*, level and at the national level. Chapter members provide local support for individuals and families new to GF. Peer counselling – which is free, I might add – is provided as well as GF 101 or “Anti-panic” sessions
  • These sessions cover everything to do with the GF diet, ingredients, cross-contamination, how you might set up a kitchen, the nutritional value of GF foods, where to shop, what’s available, cookbooks, where to eat out and how to do it, how to handle social events with friends and (sometimes worse) families, travelling, and a wide range of other tips from experienced people. They also provide details on where to find solid information on the internet – good sites like celiac.ca and The Celiac Scene!”
  • “A newly diagnosed celiac or indeed anyone requiring a GF diet is facing not a change in diet but an entirely new lifestyle. In my view, the key to adapting successfully to that new lifestyle is turning to the volunteers of the CCA for guidance.”
  • “Individuals and families will have different challenges depending on circumstances, age, and personality. For some, accepting the lifestyle change is really hard. Some are very angry. Some find it overwhelming or confusing. Others are themselves fine but find that convincing family members of the importance of the diet and the need to avoid cross-contamination is tough. Others struggle in the workplace with business lunches, snacks, and contaminated lunchrooms. And then there’s school! I can tell you that there are volunteers who have dealt with all these problems and situations and can offer advice and support both in person and via newsletters.” 

6. Continuous long-term follow-up

  • Although symptoms typically start to improve within one month of following a strict gluten-free diet, all people diagnosed with CD benefit from ongoing follow-up.

Source: Follow-up Management of Patients with Celiac Disease. 2016. Professional Advisory Council, Canadian Celiac Association.


Julie offers inspiration and support to others through Pure Nutrition Consulting.

Julie Kostyk completed her nutrition degree at the University of Alberta and has been working as a dietitian for over 10 years. She has worked in many areas of nutrition, including weight management, digestive health, sports nutrition, pediatrics and pre/post natal health. She enjoys keeping up-to-date with the latest in nutrition research, such as the FODMAP diet and food elimination/challenges for digestive or overall health.

Julie enjoys being active and has completed a variety of running events including half marathons and team relay races as well as the 2015 Mudderella in Whistler. Her true passions include cooking, gardening, traveling, and spending time with her husband, golden retriever and two cats.

pure nutrition consulting

Pure Nutrition Consulting is a team of Registered Dietitians serving Greater Victoria and the Cowichan Valley. We are regulated health professionals and strive to help people navigate the ever-changing world of nutrition to optimize their health.

We offer a supportive and personalized approach, as well as short wait times for appointments plus direct billing to insurance companies. We’re pleased to partner with The Celiac Scene in supporting your health.

Is your gluten-free diet providing you or your child with all the necessary nutrients? A detailed computerized nutrition analysis can offer you that instant insight. Whatever your nutrition goals are, we can help!

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