This week is not only Coeliac Disease Awareness Week, it’s also Food Allergy Awareness Week. Both of these conditions are common areas of discussion for us at Creative Nature and also for some of our customers.
For more on Food Allergy Awareness Week please look at our CEO Julianne’s blog on Thrive Global. As many of you will know Julianne has multiple food allergies and is an anaphylaxis sufferer so very quickly an allergic reaction can become life-threatening for her.
Here we are going to focus on Coeliac disease which is probably even less understood. It’s often associated with people who don’t consume gluten. It is actually a common disease that affects about one in a 100 people.
Many people have not had the condition diagnosed and it is thought that currently nearly half a million people have the disease, and are struggling with unexplained symptoms.
What is it?
Coeliac (pronounced see-liac), disease is a serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when you eat gluten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means that the body can’t effectively absorb nutrients from food. It is extremely painful.
Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or intolerance – this is a mistaken often made. If your parents, or siblings have the condition, then your chances of also having the disease increase tenfold to one in ten. It is often misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Diverticulitis.
Reported cases of the disease are three times more common in women than men.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms, which can range from mild to severe can include:
- Mouth ulcers
- Sudden or unexpected weight loss
How is coeliac disease treated?
Once the disease is diagnosed, the only treatment is to remove gluten from your diet completely. However even getting a diagnosis is tricky. The only test available requires having gluten in your diet – you have to consume gluten for six weeks and then take the test. If consuming gluten gives you terrible pain then you will be reluctant to do that. Therefore the terms ‘undiagnosed coeliac’ or ‘suspected coeliac’ is quite common.
Gluten is a dietary protein found in three types of cereal:
Gluten is also found in foods that contain those cereals, including:
- breakfast cereals
- most types of bread
- certain types of sauces
- some ready meals
In addition, most beers are made from barley. In other words, a lot of foods contain gluten.
Living with Coeliac Disease
Once you have been diagnosed with the disease, sticking to a gluten-free diet is important to maintain your health. It is also important to ensure you have a balanced diet.
Initially, it may seem, as you can’t eat anything, however in reality there are many food types that you can eat. You can eat meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, rice and potatoes. You can also eat gluten-free substitute foods, and processed foods that don’t contain gluten.
Because the disease is so common, many supermarkets have their own range of gluten-free foods, and many restaurants flag gluten-free dishes on their menus, or even cater exclusively for people with gluten intolerance.
If you are going to prepare a meal for someone who suffers from coeliac disease, it is very important that you learn to read labelling on foods and it’s also important to avoid cross-contamination. Even a trace element of gluten can cause terrible pain. In fact it’s often easier just to cook a gluten free meal all around to remove that risk.
All of our products are free from gluten. This means, that whereas you may feel you are missing out on cakes and may sweet options, we at Creative Nature have both a safe and delicious range of baking mixes, bars and snacks available.
If you think you may suffer from some of the symptoms, but are unsure if you have the disease – for more visit www.coeliac.org.uk