Food allergies and intolerances are life changing. In the UK they affect around 8% of children and 2% of adults. In December 2014, the law on how allergen information is provided by food businesses changed, to make it easier when buying food or eating out with an allergy or intolerance. However, it is still difficult to find reliable places to eat and safe foods.
Coeliac Disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have Coeliac Disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. When those with Coeliac Disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi. Villi are tiny, finger-like protrusions in the small intestine that absorb nutrients. Normally our villi allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats. The only treatment for Coeliac Disease is a strict, gluten-free diet.
I was diagnosed in 2012 with this condition, I was very poorly for 2 years and lost a vast amount of weight, I had always been plagued with tummy problems and blistering on my hands and feet but always put it down to stress, irritable bowel syndrome or some food just didn’t agree with me. The first step to obtaining a diagnosis was to consult my GP about the symptoms. He observed my symptoms over a period of time and then arranged for me to have the necessary tests (like a tTG-IgA test and an endoscopy) .
As I mentioned earlier ‘eating out’ is a nightmare when you have an intolerance or and allergy to particular food groups, it affects everyone differently, some people are affected by:
bloating or abdominal (stomach) pain
flatulence and a noisy stomach
tiredness and fatigue, which may be a sign of iron deficiency anaemia or folate deficiency anaemia
tingling and numbness in your hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy)
swelling of your hands, feet, arms and legs caused by a build-up of fluid (oedema)
Many Coeliacs become lactose or dairy intolerant
Since December 2015 I have also become intolerant to lactose, so gluten and dairy are not in my life anymore 🙂 🙂 so…. for first time in years I feel really well. 🙂
Gluten free food is often expensive and difficult to locate, eating out can be a nightmare.
however, I had a lovely surprise when visiting Malta recently, ‘no problem’ the waitress said, and they were not worried about asking me continuously if I could eat this or that. This was really reassuring, they were interested and wanted to know about the condition and how they could help me.
It can be challenging to be a self advocate. I need to check ingredients of everything, even if I have eaten it before, a new batch can include different ingredients. I find eating ‘out’ in the UK risky, often the staff in restaurants do not understand when you ask for food without gluten, they do not understand about cross infection or the symptoms of an attack of gluten on an individual. Often they have a ‘gluten free menu’ which has a small selection of foods, or they will bring you a folder of pages and pages of foods and their allergy content.
Where to buy GF foods
Most of the main supermarkets now have a separate ‘free from’ section, however they are often sold at a higher price that the gluten alternative. Aldi have begun to provide a good range too.
On a positive note….I’ve recently been to Poundworld and they have these tasty cookies, so I bought 3 boxes 🙂 rude not to really!
Amazon have a great range of gluten free foods and here are some for you to have a look at….
Donut mix (I haven’t had a donut for about 4 years, so this is on my list)
Walkers shortbread biscuits (these are amazing, I had a delivery of each variety, it was hard keeping them for myself )
If you find any other foods that I could add to the list let me know, it would be great to have more tried and tested foods that are available nationally and locally.
Does Gluten in Makeup Really Matter, I never thought it would be important.
Now, many experts agree that the gluten content in cosmetics isn’t a problem because it’s topically applied and not ingested. Typically, gluten must be ingested for it to cause any sort of problem or reaction, though, they do warn to avoid cosmetics like lipstick since it’s near your mouth and could potentially be ingested. Gluten allergies are an issue down to the molecular level. The tiniest triggers can set them off. Many people, just in the last few years have reported skin reactions caused by the gluten in cosmetics. The only way to stop the reaction is, of course, to stop using the product.
I’ve looked at some make up companies and I am a regular customer of Avon products and was relieved to find they have over 600 products which are gluten free. So I will be very careful with my next order.
Not all alcohol can be included on a gluten-free diet.
Cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs are gluten-free.
Even when a cereal that contains gluten is used as an ingredient, all spirits are distilled during the manufacturing process and this process removes any trace of gluten.
Therefore, all spirit drinks (including malt whisky which is made from barley) are safe for people with coeliac disease. However I have been affected by vodka. So I avoid the distilled spirits due to my own sensitivity.
What alcohol do I need to avoid?
Beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten and are not suitable for a gluten-free diet.
Some other foods to watch out for
Some manufacturers use powders that contain gluten to prevent the gum from sticking to the wrapper.
Oats are a popular choice for many sticking to a gluten free diet because for the most part, oats are naturally gluten-free. However, some brands may actually be contaminated with wheat which can happen one of two ways: either by cross contamination from the oats being grown in close proximity to wheat, rye or barley crops, or from the oats being stored in silos that have housed wheat and other gluten-containing grains.
You wouldn’t really think that salad dressings would contain hidden gluten but surprisingly, many of them do. This is because many brands contain glutenous ingredients which are used as thickeners and stabilizers.
While black coffee is clearly gluten free since it’s just beans and water, the same cannot be said about many other coffee beverages.
Rice, fish, vegetables and seaweed, all of these sushi ingredients seem safe as far as gluten contents but when you delve deeper, some restaurants may use vinegar or soy sauce derived from glutenous ingredients. check all the ingredients each time you buy as they are always changing the ingredients.
You would expect crisps to be free from gluten, however many use flavouring with glutenous ingredients, and will also be made in a factory with other cereals so there is the risk of cross contamination.
Soups, sauces and gravy
Many tinned and restaurant soups use wheat ingredients as a thickener, which can also be true about many sauces and gravies.
Ongoing symptoms for coeliac sufferers
Symptoms in Adults:
Symptoms in adults are less likely to be digestive, and instead include just some of the following:
- early menopause
- unexplained iron-deficiency anaemia
- bone or joint pain
- bone loss or osteoporosis
- depression or anxiety
- tingling numbness in the hands and feet
- missed menstrual periods
- infertility or recurrent miscarriage
- canker sores inside the mouth
- dermatitis herpetiformis
Worried about sweets?
One of the things we miss out on being a ceoliac is desserts and sweets, being lactose intolerant means I can’t eat milk chocolate 😡😩 however dark chocolate is a welcoming sacrifice 😍
I try to keep a small supply of sweets in my bag for emergencies 🍭 🍭 🍭
I am nervous buying loose sweets but upon doing some research I have found that most sweets are gluten free and Sweets without on eBay have a great selection
If you have any tips on how you manage your condition I’d love to hear, or if you have any comments please post them below;