Having to make the switch to gluten free can be a challenge, and it’s even harder when the people you are around don’t understand. So whether you’re the coeliac, or you know a coeliac, these facts are for you!
1. Coeliac disease is a serious autoimmune condition. It’s not an allergy to wheat, although some people do have that. We won’t have a reaction by someone sitting next to us eating a sandwich! But be careful where you leave your crumbs!
2. When someone with coeliac eats gluten, it triggers an autoimmune response where our body tries to attack the foreign gluten protein and instead damages our bodies. Continuing to eat food containing gluten is really damaging to our bodies and our mental health.
3. Even a small amount of gluten can cause damage to our gut, even if we don’t have a physical reaction at the time.
4. Physical reactions can vary. Some people will become ill instantly, but with others it may take a couple of hours for the symptoms to appear. Most people suffer from a variety of symptoms and can be unwell for up to a few weeks.
5. Everyone reacts differently, and the reaction is worse the longer you have been gluten free.
6. Some people can be intolerant to gluten, but not have coeliac diease. This is called Non Coeliac Gluten Intolerance.
7. Going gluten free isn’t a healthy diet option – in fact gluten free alternatives such as bread and pasta tend to be higher in sugar, salt and fat content. Therefore it’s unlikely to benefit you unless you have a specific gluten intolerance.
8. Gluten is in everything! You need to get really familiar with reading labels. Gluten is one of the fourteen common allergens and has to be declared on labels if it is present, or if there is a “may contain” risk.
9. We know that you think we’re weird. It’s OK. It is a bit odd to have this random disease that isn’t really understood and can be controlled by your diet. We also know that some of you think we are making it up. I promise you, that if we have had a medical diagnosis, then we are not. Do you think people put themselves through this for fun?
10. Coeliac is a life long condition. It doesn’t go away and we can’t reintroduce gluten back in to our lives without experiencing symptoms.
The 14th-20th May is Coeliac Awareness Week and I hope over the next month I can give you an insight in to what living with coeliac disease is like. Make sure you follow me on Facebook and subscribe to my blog for all the updates!