How To Cope With…Coeliac Disease

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  • Coeliac (or celiac) disease isn’t a food allergy or intolerance. It’s an
    auto-immune disease triggered by gluten. When consumed, the body’s
    immune system attacks its own tissues.

    I was diagnosed with
    coeliac disease about four years ago after I was admitted to hospital
    with a suspected appendicitis (often confused with coeliac’s). My stomach
    had been severely swollen for a long time, and the pain was becoming
    unbearable. I was immediately put on a drip for dehydration while my
    bloods were checked. My blood test result came back positive.

    Looking
    back, it was obvious that I was coeliac. My energy levels were
    non-existent while my skin was painful, red and blemished. Eating bread,
    pasta and other gluten-filled foods didn’t just make me feel bloated,
    it was having a devastating effect on my day to day health. Once I cut
    it out of my diet, I felt so much better.

    My consultant was really helpful. I saw him a few times as I adjusted to life as a coeliac. He also referred me to a nutritionist who helped me plan my new diet.

    Coeliac UK were fantastic. I’d really recommend contacting
    them if you’ve recently been diagnosed. Not only will they provide you
    with all the information and support that you need, but you can also
    meet other sufferers too.

    Having coeliac disease isn’t easy,
    but it’s becoming more common. Around 1 in 100 people have the
    condition, although many remain undiagnosed. Food suppliers are now
    waking up to a virtually untapped market so the provision is becoming
    much better.

    People are often surprised by the foods that a coeliac cannot eat, especially soy sauce!

    I tend not to eat free-from food. These products
    are usually packed with salt, sugar and fat to cover up the terrible
    taste. But, there are 4 buys that I can’t live without: Genius seeded
    bread, Dell’Ugo fresh gluten-free pasta, Baked To Taste quiche and The Black Farmer sausages.

    Eating out can be a struggle. I’m lucky to live in London so I have more choice than I would back in Cornwall. Mildred’s is my favourite restaurant by far. Always ask when booking if the restaurant can cater.

    Coeliac disease can be genetic. People close to me are now aware of the signs, and
    luckily there doesn’t seem to be another sufferer in my family, but I’ll
    have to be incredibly careful if I have children.

    My best advice to someone who thinks they might have coeliac disease would be to consult their doctor. Don’t self-diagnose!

    Make dinner times easier by downloading our free Eating Smart app for delicious allergy-friendly recipes you’ll love.

    Unsure whether to consult your doctor? Coeliac UK, the national charity for people with coeliac disease, has launched the UK’s first online assessment to help fast track diagnosis. See isitcoeliacdisease.org.uk.

     

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