Do you have general nutrition questions regarding celiac disease and eating gluten-free?

Michelle Pasia, Kogan Celiac Center Dietitian

Gluten Free Friends has partnered with the Kogan Celiac Center at the RWJ Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, NJ, to increase education and awareness in the local community.


Kogan’s Registered Dietitian, Michelle Pasia, MPH, RDN, is happy to answer your general questions about celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. Please submit questions that are applicable to a general gluten-free audience. Michelle will do her best to reply directly to all questions on a timely basis, and selected responses will be posted on our site. Personal clinical questions are best handled by your physician and cannot be addressed. 

Fall 2019 Kogan Q and A


My daughter was recently diagnosed with celiac by her pediatrician through blood work.  She has not seen a gastroenterologist yet and we have to wait over a month for an appointment.  She feels terrible. I am eager to start a gluten-free diet but my pediatrician wants me to wait. Is this the right thing to do?


I’m sorry your daughter feels so terrible!  I understand that you want to start a gluten-free diet right away, but please wait until you meet with the gastroenterologist. He or she may want to confirm the diagnosis by endoscopy, and eliminating gluten beforehand could impact the results. Ask the gastro’s office to call you if there are any cancellations, as your daughter is suffering, and ask your pediatrician to also call to try to get her seen earlier. 


I recently found out I have celiac disease and my biggest symptom is brain fog.  It has been 3 weeks of a gluten-free diet and I still have brain fog. Am I doing something wrong?

It can take at least 3 months to feel better after going 100% gluten-free, and for some a little bit longer.  To be sure you know how to properly eliminate gluten, including any cross-contamination, you may want to consider meeting with a registered celiac dietitian. Many insurance plans cover nutrition consultations.


I still get bloated even though I am following a gluten-free diet.  What can I do? 

It is important to rule out the possibility of cross-contamination when symptoms occur, but you may also be experiencing bloating from something unrelated to celiac disease.  Keep a log of your symptoms so that you can review them with your gastroenterologist.  


I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and have a bread machine that I have used for years.  Can I still use it?


You can thoroughly wash the machine however we do suggest replacing the inside components if it has been used multiple times with gluten-containing items.  Enjoy baking!


My son loves candy and this will be his first Halloween since being diagnosed with celiac.  What can he eat safely and how can I make sure he doesn’t feel left out?


Do not despair, there are many gluten-free options!  For example, most chocolate is gluten-free. Having a Halloween candy exchange at the end of trick-or-treating with siblings or friends, or even with your own candy bowl of favorites, is a fun way to ensure he has a full collection of safe treats. In advance of Halloween, spend some time together creating a gluten-free list of candies that your son will enjoy, and will be excited about, and have him help fill your Halloween bowl with these safe favorites.

How do you know what’s safe? Just like all other foods, it is ideal when the label is clearly marked gluten-free or confirmed gluten-free by the company. If not labeled gluten-free, definitely eliminate candies with wheat, rye, barley, malt or oats in the ingredients or “may contain” statements. Some natural flavoring, like modified food starch, contains gluten. However, in the United States, modified food starch is usually derived from corn, and if derived from wheat must be clearly stated on the label. Avoid candy with wafers, cookies, pretzels, or malt. Licorice, by the way, usually contains wheat.  

Some candy companies do not put ingredients on the individually wrapped Halloween candies.  In this case, or really whenever you are uncertain, call the company or check their website’s allergen section.