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.
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
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.