If you have just been diagnosed with coeliac disease, it is important that you understand the next steps you must take. Coeliac disease is treated by excluding foods that contain gluten from your diet. This prevents the damage caused to the lining of your intestines and prevents symptoms, which can be as wide ranging as tiredness, stomach pain, and diarrhoea, with different levels of severity for every individual. If you have just been diagnosed with coeliac disease, you must stop eating anything with gluten in it for the rest of your life.
There might be further medical tests that your GP or gastroenterologist wants you to undertake once you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease. This is usually to ascertain how you have so far been affected by the condition, such as checking whether you have suffered from iron deficiency anaemia, dermatitis herpetiformis, or other symptoms. In some cases, your GP may also wish to send you for a DEXA scan to see if your bone density has been affected by coeliac disease, as it can sometimes cause poor absorption of nutrients that can lead to weak and brittle bones, or osteoporosis.
Speak with a dietitian
Once you have spoken to your GP (or in some cases a gastroenterologist), you’ll be referred to a dietitian. This is where you’ll have a more in-depth conversation about what you should do next in terms of removing gluten from your diet. You should never change your diet immediately once you suspect you are coeliac. Instead, wait to speak to a dietitian who will help you to carefully remove gluten from your diet. It is useful at this stage to keep a food diary for a few days prior to your appointment with a dietitian, as this will help them to see what your diet currently looks like and how this can be adapted in an effective way. It is at this stage where you need to keep as many notes as you can, ask as many questions as you need to, and work out whether you will have follow-up appointments with the dietitian as well as the GP or gastroenterologist.
One way to transition to a gluten free lifestyle is to begin with a gluten free prescription, which you may be entitled to once you are diagnosed with coeliac disease. Planning your gluten free prescription is important, and finding out which gluten free products are available on prescription will help you to decide what to add to your first prescription. Your dietitian and GP will help with this and recommend the types of gluten free foods that will help you to get started.
There is support out there for you if you have recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease. From speaking with your GP and dietitian, to taking advantage of gluten free products on prescription, you will soon be living a gluten free life and alleviating the symptoms you have been suffering with.