I hope you are all well this Sunday morning and ready for whatever the coming week brings. For my next blog I thought I would talk more on a personal level; Coeliac and me, this is about my journey adapting to this new way of life. For anyone who also has Coeliac disease, Gluten intolerance or may be suspicious that they have it, keep reading :)
More than an 'Allergy'
This really bugs me, a lot of people assume that Coeliac Disease, is nothing more than an allergy to gluten, I can assure you my friends, it is much much MUCH more than that. Coeliac Disease is in fact an autoimmune condition, this is the part of your body that protects and fights infection. The 'fun' part is where your body mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in your body; your body thinks gluten (ingredients found in it) is a threat to your body and essentially the alert systems go into overdrive.
Coeliac Disease comes with a lot of symptoms that a lot of people just brush over, because they think it is only an allergy.
Diagnosis and Life
About 2 years ago now, I really started to feel seriously unwell, I could not eat without being sick, I was exhausted, had a hard time concentrating, irritable, poor skin hair and nails - In all honestly I had chalked it up to grief over the passing of my dad, but the symptoms got progressively worse, losing a mass of weight, to the point I looked truly ill - bones protruding everywhere, clothes hanging off me. Mentally it has such a huge impact, I did not want to leave the house as I constantly felt like I was going to be sick. It was a horrible draining 3 months. Then came the diagnosis, in one hand it was a relief, because I had worried myself so much about it, that I honestly thought there is something majorly wrong with me, on the other hand it hit me, that my full lifestyle would have to change and this was not a temporary thing, this was going to be for the rest of my days.
My diet has had a complete overhaul, no more gluten which is found in wheat, barley and rye. It would blow your mind how many foods have these ingredients, foods you would never even think of. It is also so much more expensive to buy gluten free foods (you can get staples on prescription). Even going out for a meal is a chore at times, as a lot of restaurants do not cater for gluten free foods, which is disappointing.
I make a lot of meals from scratch now (trust me I am not a culinary genius), its a good way of knowing exactly what is going in to what your are eating, as I have been caught eating 'gluten free' foods, and ended up ill, as there has been some sort of cross contamination.
Tops tips for Gluten Free Life
First things first ensure you actually have to go down this route, if you think you may be coeliac or have a gluten intolerance, I would strongly suggest keeping a food diary, it will help you pin point when your symptoms are flaring up. Symptoms to watch out for (this is not a exhaustive list):
- Abdominal Pain
- Weight Loss
- Itchy Rash
- Nerve Damage
- Poor Co-ordination, Balance and Speech
Also go to your GP, they will be able to tell you the best steps to take. Unfortunately to get tested you need to have a decent amount of gluten in your system, for the results to be conclusive. There is no cure for Coeliac Disease, but it can be managed primarily through your diet, but in the light of being honest, it can cause deficiencies - I have had issues with Iron and B12 but again it can be managed. It is also important to note, that experts believe this is a genetic condition which means it can be passed on through first degree relatives, such as parent to child.
If you are diagnosed with this condition do not panic, it is not the end of the world but it is imperative to stick to a gluten free diet, it is easy to think ah sod it, a one off wont hurt (I have done it) but the damage you do to your body, specifically your digestive system and small intestine is untold. I have attached my favourite (and most affordable) place to purchase gluten free foods, that will help you on your way.
My most important tip is this; look after your body and your mind, it is the only one we get, be kind to it, nourish it and treat it with the respect it deserves, we all have bad habits (me included) but you would not use medication that made you ill, so why eat something that is literally destroying your immune system.
If anyone has anymore questions they would like to ask me about this, please shoot me a message and I will be happy to help in any way I can - It can be a daunting thing when you are sick and you dont know what is wrong with you and even if you do, you do not know what the next steps are.
I hope this blog has shed some light on this disease and people will look at this as more than an allergy.
Until next time,
Places I shop for GF foods:
Both have full 'free from' ranges, that wont break the bank.
* Its also a good thing to invest in a good Gluten Free cook book, my favourite can be found at Amazon Eat Happy by Anna Vocino.
* Please go to your GP if you think you may be Coeliac, or have a Gluten Intolerance*
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