Being a Coeliac – whats it like where you are?

Where do I start? I was diagnosed as a Coeliac late in life(2013 to be precise at the age of 57). At the time, it was a bit overwhelming for me and my family. The first time shopping was a nightmare as all the labels had to be read! I am pleased to say that since 2013, the situation with regard to the availability of Gluten Free products has improved greatly(in large part due to the efforts of Coeliac UK ) . Eating Gluten Free at home is easy now and I am pleased to say the occurrences of ‘being glutened’ are thankfully few and far between.

Eating out is where the challenge lies. The UK government DID bring out legislation to help (and it has), but the response of restuarants big and small is pretty much across the spectrum. Restauarant staff Coeliac awareness is much better. What lets many eatries down is how they deal with Coeliacs.

The more enlightened ones(Bella Italia, Pizza Express, Handmade Burger Company, to name but a few) have updated their menus to clearly indicate which options are available to Coeliacs, some have even gained certification from Coeliac UK. Others seem to consider this too much effort and their response is to drop a huge folder of information on my lap and leave it to me to decipher what I can eat, based on their use of icons etc. Not good enough. When I go out to eat, I want to be able to pick something Gluten Free without making a drama of it.Too often I take the easy option as I cant be bothered to take the time to read through all their matierial. I do have a good idea whats ‘Safe’ after 3 years (although can still be caught out).

Hotels are much the same. I stayed at one recently that looked very promising. Gluten Free cereal, bread for toast, but oh dear, ask for Gluten Free sausages  with a cooked breakfast?

I have had some very positive side effects from being Gluten Free. I feel the best I have every felt health-wise. Asthma that has plagued me since birth has gone completely.  I have started experimenting with drinking normal beer to see what happens . Nothing untoward so far. Easy steps.

So, in the UK, its getting easier all the time. If we can just crack eating out… How is it where YOU are? I’d be very interested to hear. Thanks for reading.

 

So – the Journey continues

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Well, here I am, 3 weeks into my journey to Nirvana (well ok.. Gluten Free!). Apologies for the somewhat tenuous link to the car, but lets face it.. it looks like a fun car to drive! Anyway, I digress…

I’ve seen a Dietitian, who told me a couple of things that I didnt know and must confess I wouldn’t have even thought of. I need to check any medicine I buy or is prescribed for me, as it’s possible some do contain Gluten. I also didnt know that tea/coffee inhibits the bodies ability to ingest Iron – much better to drink orange juice. I also learnt that I need to keep my Calcium intake up(apparently a lot of the Gluten free foods are fortified with additional calcium) to avoid brittle bones.

I am today venturing out to eat for the first time.I decided I would do some prep ahead of my visit to my local steak-house chain restaraunt (who shall remain nameless). I dropped a note to them to see if they indicate which of their menu options are Gluten Free (I’m going to use GF from now on). Apparently (according to their customer service) they couldnt possibly put all the allergen information onto their menus(so I guess 3% of the UK population isnt significant enough?). Anyway, they DID send me a breakdown by menu option of the nutritional and allergen content of their selections.

This made me understand why they are loathe to put information about the GF status of their dishes. Pretty much everything (with a few exceptions) either contains Gluten or is produced in factories where cross-contamination cannot be ruled out. i did manage to find a small number of things I can have, but i need to be very explicit about what I order. Oh and they dont have a GF menu.. I have suggested they may want to think about it?  I’ll let you know how I get on. Thanks for reading… sorry this turned into a bit of a rant…