How to support your body’s recovery after a Coeliac diagnosis
Whether you managed to get confirmation of Coeliac Disease through blood tests or had to go through the process of being referred to gastro specialists and an endoscopy – well done for persisting and taking charge of your health. I’ve talked before about how tough it can be to get a coeliac diagnosis (although I’ve heard it’s getting easier) so I want you to know that, whilst it may feel like all the things you know and love have been torn away from you, you really have taken a massive step in living more positively well.
Whilst you may be one of the sufferers that feels an immediate and vast improvement from ditching gluten, if you’re not, don’t panic – the body takes time to heal. Coeliac Disease is something you would have been born with so, especially if you’ve been diagnosed later in life, it makes sense that the toll it’s taken on your system will take some time to reverse.
If I had my time again, with the benefit of hindsight, I’d try and take into account these tips for supporting your body in recovering.
Be kind to yourself and prioritise rest
Fatigue is a pretty common symptom of Coeliac Disease; it doesn’t go away overnight and you should be conscious, if you do have an energy spike from cutting out gluten, not to push your body too hard too soon. This is a really great opportunity for you to get in tune with your body and restore yourself to full energy.
It can be challenging, emotionally to deal with a Coeliac Diagnosis – both on account of your “second brain” (gut) being upset by the damage caused by gluten and because it can be a bit of an upheaval – now is a really good time to integrate a self care regime (or “me time” if you prefer) that works for you: meditation, yoga and sleep hygiene could prove really beneficial to your recovery.
Fill your dietary gaps (you won’t always see them this way by the way) with colourful foods
The benefits of this are twofold:
Firstly, colourful food is very visually appealing and will make your meals much more interesting.
Secondly, if you crowd out the spaces where gluten-y foods would have been, you’ll fill yourself up on wonderfully nutrient dense foods that will help your body to heal. This will also mean you’ll be cooking from scratch much more which is going to be more helpful to you in the long term. Pre packaged gluten free foods have their time and place, absolutely, but getting confident in the kitchen is really going to be the best thing for your gluten free-dom.
Focus on good gut health
Fibre is something most people in this country don’t eat anywhere near enough of, according to NHS Choices:
“On average, most people in the UK get about 18g of fibre a day. You should aim for at least 30g a day”
With your lifestyle adjustment, you’re in the perfect place to review your nutrition and put in place some positive new food habits. Fibre is important because it supports your digestive system and keeps everything, ahem, running smoothly. Some great gluten free sources of dietary fibre include: flaxseed, beans, dark leafy vegetables and brown rice. It’s important to up your fibre intake gradually, however, as if you go too fast and heavy you could end up being pretty uncomfortable.
Lots of people are now talking about the importance of pre and probiotics for good gut health; simply put, probiotics are good gut bacteria and pre biotics are their food. When recovering from years of gut inflammation it may be wise to consider a pre and probiotic complex supplement; you can get prebiotics from your food (such as onions and garlic) but as your absorption can take a while to get back to normal, you may find supplementing helps.
Reduce inflammatory foods
Another reason to not rely too heavily on pre packaged gluten free products is their tendency to include ingredients that have been shown to have an inflammatory (or irritant) effect. Some of the foods it would be wise to limit in this case include: refined sugar, alcohol and fried foods.
Increase your intake of anti inflammatory foods
Again, this comes back to filling your dietary gaps with colourful foods, as most of these are anti inflammatory. Include lots of ginger, turmeric and blueberries.
If you’ve just been diagnosed and could do with support in getting your head around your lifestyle adaptations, I’d love to hear from you. And if you have any tips you’d like to add from your own experience in recovering from Coeliac Disease, please do share in the comments below!