Coeliac disease is a really common condition – 1 in 100 people have it. The condition is autoimmune and when gluten is eaten – the immune system kicks in to attack the digestive system.
As a coeliac myself, I know how frustrating this condition can be, so here are my 7 top things that I wish everyone knew and that from speaking to many clients, I know I am not the only one who thinks these things!
1. Yes a ‘little bit’ of gluten does hurt!
So many times people will say ‘oh I am sure a little bit won’t hurt’ – well yes it does! So much so that even if you use the same butter or toaster, it is enough to cause a reaction.
2. Yes I am sure I still have coeliac disease
The symptoms of coeliac disease really vary from none at all through to being quite severe. Also, if you are being strict on the diet, you will have no symptoms.
People often start asking – ‘are you sure you have it?’
There is unfortunately no cure for coeliac disease, so once diagnosed you have it for life.
3. I am sick of baked potatoes
We eat out quite a lot and nowadays there are plenty of restaurants that have an excellent gluten free menu. But there are still occasions when my friends / family end up organising a restaurant that has a very limited selection of gluten free meals. If you are making a reservation – check the menu and if any of the below are the ONLY options for your coeliac friend, move on.
Breakfast – yoghurt and fruit
Lunch – salad / baked potato
Evening meal – steak and fish with vegetables (because the chips will have been ‘glutened’ in the fryer).
If you aren’t too sure, then ask your friend to book a restaurant, as the likelihood is that they will have a much better idea of where to go.
4. Stop buying me ‘free from’ foods
Since being a coeliac, I think I actually eat more biscuits, bread and cakes now. I know that people are only trying to be nice, but when someone has gone out and bought you special biscuits (that cost the earth) you feel obliged to sit and eat half the pack.
What you don’t know though is that many coeliacs actually don’t eat special ‘gluten free’ foods, so don’t feel obliged to go and buy them.
5. It isn’t that complicated
Most of my friends and family go into full panic mode when thinking of foods that I can eat. When, in reality, I can eat most foods. All fruit, vegetables, potatoes, rice, quinoa, meat, fish and dairy is gluten free.
For your more ‘obvious’ gluten containing foods such as pasta, bread and biscuits – there are gluten free alternatives.
Now there are the more difficult foods – pre-made sauces, stocks and gravy. You have 3 options here, you can either buy the ‘free from’ variety which guarantees a gluten free product, you can make your own or you can just check the label for wheat, barley or rye (guess what – it’s in bold on the back of the packet).
6. No I don’t miss eating gluten
My friends and family will often say to me ‘oh you must miss eating bread / cake’ etc. But what they don’t know is that my association to those foods is – diarrhoea, stomach pain, fatigue and depression. Not to mention the possible bowel cancer some day. So do I miss them? No, not really!
7. Your friend who is a ‘little bit’ coeliac needs to get checked ASAP
Every so often, when you tell people you are coeliac, someone will come back with ‘My friend Sarah / Jack / Sonia etc is coeliac but they aren’t as bad as you – they could can some gluten.’
There is no such thing as being ‘a little bit coeliac’ – you either are or you aren’t and you need to be 100% gluten free. So we aren’t just being a pain the arse, your friend needs to go get themselves checked by a doctor and seen by a dietitian.
Fore more information on Coeliac Disease, please check out Coeliac UK.