30 Ways to Make Your Celiac Friend Feel Normal by Selena De Vries, Celiac Dietitian

A diagnosis of celiac disease can be overwhelming. Often times, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity will deny food-related invitations due to the fact that they “don’t even want to deal with it.” Replacing food with fun takes the pressure off while your friend or family member adjusts to the gluten-free diet. Selena has some great ideas!

Selena De Vries Supplements WPAbout Selena De Vries, RD

  • Selena is a Registered Dietitian living with celiac disease who helps individuals that struggle with digestion find food freedom. At Healthbean Nutrition, Selena understands that celiac disease not only effects our physical health but also effects our emotional health. As such, Selena uses an integrative approach in the management of digestive health conditions. She offers free group support for those with celiac disease/gluten sensitivity as well as offering nutrition coaching for digestive health conditions. Services are offered both online and in the beautiful Okanagan valle

Click here for Selena’s Top 21 Simple & Energizing Gluten-Free Snack Ideas!

Food related events outside of the home, especially at the onset of diagnosis, can be anxiety provoking.   Not only is the individual still learning what gluten free entails, they now have to think about navigating this diet with someone else preparing the food, which is next to impossible.  And, let alone, stressful!

  • Think about it like comparing celiac (a condition that medically requires a gluten free diet) to a peanut allergy.  Would you want a friend to cook for you who has a mediocre knowledge on managing a peanut allergy (potentially risking anaphylaxis)? Likely not.  Same answer for gluten free.

Our friends may have the best intentions to make a meal gluten free, but unless they have been thoroughly educated on cross contamination and reading labels, it is very unlikely that they will be able to prepare a safe meal for a celiac (read – please do not attempt!).

Eating out in a restaurant is another hurdle that a celiac has to overcome.  Imagine going from ordering whatever you want, whenever you want to having to basically interrogate the server on safe kitchen practices for allergens and asking for ingredient lists on food items.  Sound overwhelming?  It is.  And, it is even more so for someone who is newly diagnosed because they still need to learn to identify risky foods in restaurants and learn the correct questions to ask to reduce the risk of cross contamination.

There are even individuals who have years of a celiac diagnosis on their belt and still experience a mountain of stress when considering food invitations outside of the home.  Because we all have to eat three meals a day, food and, more importantly, safe gluten free food is always on the mind of celiacs, 24/7, 365 days out of the year.  It can be exhausting.

  • Sometimes, it’s nice to forget about it.  And the activities below take food out of the equation so your celiac friend can forget about their diagnosis, if only for a few hours.

When I think of participating in the activities listed below, it’s like a breath of fresh air because:

  • I don’t even have to think about cross contamination, questions to call ahead and ask the restaurant, or if I need to pack extra snacks in case I can’t eat etc.
  • It’s not something additional to put on the ‘to-do’ list.  Rather, it’s something to, truly, look forward to.
  • It’s just easy.  It’s a plain and simple answer – yes or no.

30 ways to make your celiac friend feel “normal”

  1. Farmers Market
  2. Wine Night (or GF beer night)
  3. Games Night
  4. Exercise classes like Yoga, Pilates, or HIIT
  5. Tea at a friends house
  6. Going for coffee (my personal favorite)
  7. Manicures or pedicures
  8. Walk in the park or hiking
  9. Window shopping (or purchasing!)
  10. Winery Tours
  11. Concerts
  12. Playdate with little ones
  13. Knitting class
  14. Art/painting class
  15. Floral or plant workshops
  16. Book club
  17. Jewelry making class
  18. Snowshoeing
  19. Skiing
  20. Boating on the lake
  21. Beach or pool afternoon
  22. Movie night or TV night (Bachelor night ladies?)
  23. Water park or waterslides
  24. Garden club
  25. Bike riding
  26. Volunteering your time to help others in need
  27. Kombucha workshop
  28. Bike riding
  29. Driving to a nearby town and exploring thrift stores and antique shops
  30. Cross country skiing

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.