I’m a coeliac. I’m not a celeriac, turnip or any other root vegetable, although if you are American I might be a celiac.
Being coeliac is a fairly all-encompassing thing for someone who likes to eat and travel as much as I do, so you’ll find that I mention it quite a bit. It’s woven into a lot of my normal travel posts because I do love my food, but if you’re looking for specific destination guides, restaurant reviews, or recipes, here’s where you’ll find them. There may also be a rant or two thrown in for good measure.
If you’re curious about how/why/what coeliac disease is, let me explain. I was formally diagnosed (via endoscopy and biopsy) with coeliac disease in 2009, when I was 23. If you don’t want to do the maths yourself, that means I have been living as gluten free as I can manage for over 7 years .
If you’re not sure what coeliac disease is, the best source of information is probably Coeliac UK, but to answer a few FAQs here goes:
- I can’t eat anything containing wheat, barley, or rye as they contain a protein called gluten.
- I can’t eat oats unless they are gluten free, which means not processed alongside products which contain gluten. Some coeliacs can’t eat oats at all because a protein they contain called avenin is very simliar to gluten.
- I have an autoimmune disease, not an allergy.
- Coeliac disease causes damage to the small intestine, due to the body attacking the lining, preventing the absorption of nutrients.
- In particular, the ability to absorb iron is often impaired. This is how I was diagnosed; I had chronic anaemia which wouldn’t improve, even with iron supplements.
- Microscopic amounts of gluten are enough to trigger the autoimmune response, which means no, I can’t just scrape off the breadcrumbs. Neither can I use the same spoon as one that has been in contact with gluten, eat the outside of a roast chicken stuffed with bread stuffing, or kiss you if you’ve been drinking beer (lucky escape).
- Foods and drinks I can’t eat include, but are not limited to; bread, pasta, beer, ale, barley squash, malt vinegar, sausages, soy sauce, baking powder.
- Foods and drinks I can eat include, but are not limited to; potatoes, rice and carbohydrates in general, cider, wine, gin, dairy products in general, all meat, all vegetables.
- If I were to eat some gluten, I am lucky in the sense that I don’t experience any outward symptoms. I may get a bit bloated, but that’s about it. I know I am very fortunate, as some people suffer terribly from the smallest amount of cross-contamination. However, the downside to this is that if I do slip up and accidentally eat some gluten, it will damage my small intestine but I won’t be able to tell. This means I may keep making the same mistake over and over again.
- I’m not as self conscious about being a coeliac as I was when I was diagnosed, and will happily ask questions in restaurants and out and about in public. However, it remains much easier to cook for myself at home and when I’m in big groups of people I don’t know very well, I am reluctant to inconvenience others.
- I have a sister with a nut allergy, and together we are a waiter’s worst nightmare.
- I keep my house a gluten free zone, as it’s just heaps easier that way. Luckily my husband doesn’t mind – to be honest, he doesn’t have much choice as I do most of the cooking!
- I’m British so I refer to coeliac disease throughout this blog, but if you’re American or perhaps another nationality, you may know it a little better as celiac disease.
If you managed to make it through that tale of woe, congratulations! If you have any questions for me, please do get in touch via any form of social media, email, or leaving a comment on a post.
However, a disclaimer: I am not a qualified medical professional, dietitian, or nutritionist. My experiences and symptoms are unique to me, and as described above, are not as severe as some other peoples’. Please take this into account when reading my opinions and thoughts, which should not be taken as qualified advice. Please seek advice from your doctor before changing your diet and do just be sensible.