Despite “gluten-free” being a huge buzzword in food over the last year or two, I’m yet to properly educate myself on coeliac disease – slapping self on wrist as we speak.
There’s nothing like an awareness week to make me get my arse in gear and study up on what other human beings deal with on a daily basis, so this week has been dedicated to just that.
I’m extremely grateful to not really have any allergies or “foods to avoid” now, but I know that as a child I was completely allergic to dairy and wheat products, which according to my Mum was an absolute nightmare.
I can only imagine, therefore, how bloody frustrating it must be to have to go about your daily life trying to avoid something as widespread as gluten. Everything from eating out at a restaurant to grabbing an emergency snack must just be fresh hell.
What is coeliac disease?
If you want to get a bit more clued up on coeliac disease too, you can visit coeliac.org.uk to find more in depth information, but here’s a list of bullet points from the same source:
- Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten
- 1 in 100 people have the condition
- Symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), hair loss and anaemia
- Once diagnosed, it is treated by following a gluten-free diet for life
- Dermatitis herpetiformis is the skin manifestation of coeliac disease.
Could you have coeliac disease?
It’s estimated that around 500,000 people are wandering around undiagnosed, and things can’t be much fun for them either. Symptoms include constant and crippling fatigue, mouth ulcers and unexplained weight loss. Total picnic, right?
If any of the above symptoms ring true with you, I urge you take the assessment on the coeliac disease campaign website.
Can food still be awesome when it’s gluten free?
To quote Ed Miliband if I may, hell yes.
There’s been a huge surge in gluten free products in the last couple of years and there’s some really good stuff out there now. Think of your favourite treat, there’s probably a gluten free version out there.
Just hit Google or the free-from aisle at Sainsbury’s.
The above corn cakes from Kallo, for example, are completely gluten free and delicious to boot, they make for a lovely guilt-free snack or a delicious lunch if topped with some avocado or cheese and tomato.
There are even some great gluten-free breads on the market now, Genius is a brand that can be found in most supermarkets (I’ve definitely seen it in Sainsbury’s) and has a wide range of products.
Do you have coeliac disease? What are the best resources for those that suffer with it or tips to help deal with it? Leave links and info in the comments so that everyone can share in the love!