What a positive title that one is!
I havent posted on here in quite some time as I’ve had a fair bit going on; moving house, taking exams, planning a wedding, etc.
However, as it’s Coeliac awareness week and everywhere I turn I can see, hear and read fascinating interviews, recipes and offers, I thought I’d add my two-pennies worth:
Being Coeliac sucks.
I was diagnosed just under a year ago, in June 2014. It sucked then and it sucks now. But, as with all life changing events, you learn to live with it. I have changed the way I look at food; ingredients, packaging and preparation, I have a huge mistrust for unfamiliar kitchens and a nervousness around inexplicable additives, I always feel like the nightmare dinner guest who has to be specially catered for and I feel sorry for those eating with me who sometimes have to have their meal choices dictated by where I can and can’t eat.
My least favourite sentence is ‘surely a little bit won’t hurt?’ closely followed by ‘oh yes, the gluten free diet, it’s very fashionable at the moment isn’t it’.
Firstly, a little bit will hurt, a lot. I will feel horrifically ill for a very long time with no medicine that can make me feel better and it will do unimaginable long term damage.
Secondly, yes, for some bizarre reason the GF diet does seem to be in fashion at the moment. But I’m not on it to be fashionable, I don’t follow trends. I have something called Coeliac Disease, a nasty, painful and commonly misunderstood chronic illness that you could seriously exacerbate if you dont take my ‘gluten free diet’ seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, getting a diagnosis after 7-8 years of unexplained illness and fatigue definitely has had it’s plus points. Now I follow a strict gluten free diet I have more energy, I’m fitter and healthier, my skin is as a 27 year olds should be (not a teenage disaster zone), my hair grows nicely and looks healthy (thanks to all you lovelies in my life who have noticed and commented) and I am free from dibilitating stomach cramps and all the other gruesome effects this mean nasty illness brings. I also look at food in a new way and enjoy baking and creating goodies from scratch.
Set backs are rare, but do still happen. Three weeks ago I was glutened while eating at a very upmarket restuarant where a series of failings occured, ultimately resulting in me consuming a relatively small amount of gluten that had a catastrophic effect on my health. Unluckily for me, this isnt my only auto-immune condition, so when I get glutened it triggers everything else and my body effectively shuts down and attacks itself. Not much fun, as you can imagine. However, on the plus side I have been in communication with the chain of command and they have completely re-written the way they deal with food intolerances and allergies and I feel confident that the awful mistakes that occured during my dining experience will never happen again in this setting. If only it didn’t take someone being made horrendously ill for restaurants and the like to take allergies and intolerances seriously.
For all the reasons detailed above (and many more that I shan’t bore you with) I am thrilled with the huge amount of publicity that Coeliac Awareness Week is receiving. The more people who are aware of this condition, the better, and the sooner people start realising it isn’t a fad or a fashion for us to eat gluten free, but an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and living with the disease, the easier life will be for many people in the same position as I am in. There is no cure for this illness – all we can do is follow a gluten free diet, forever, to prevent the after effects that consuming it has on our bodies.
I must admit I did have a real giggle recently, when I told someone that I am Coeliac and their priceless response was ‘oh yes, celeriac, I’ve heard of that!’. Funny as this was it further highlighted to me how unaware most people are of this condition and that the only thing that seems to receive attention is the gluten free diet people are on for weight loss purposes.
The sooner we can educate everyone about this disease, the better. It will be easier for them and easier for us. There will be no more emabarrassing moments in restaurants while we try to painfully explain to the waiter (who has seemingly never heard of such a thing) how important it is not to cross-contaminate our food and to know what each item on the menu contains and to then sit back and enjoy a meal in confidence. We won’t have to go through every ingredient on every packet of every item of food, becuase there will be a clear sign saying whether it is or isn’t safe. And there will be no more highly frustrating incedences where people think we are on the diet ‘for fun’, but instead understand the huge implications that eating gluten would have and offer thier support instead of their quips.
So there you have it – Coeliac Awareness Week I salute you!
If you’d like to read more about Coeliac Disease I recommend hopping over to http://www.coeliac.org.uk and having a mooch about, or if you are reading this in real time – there is a lot on iPlayer and other tv catch up services at the moment so grab a cuppa and have a read, watch or listen.
Until next time,
Little Miss GF x