As a lifelong Coeliac, I wish I had a pound for every time I heard the above comments as I would be living on my own private island with a sparkling water in hand by now...
Things are changing though and I have noticed over the last year or two, that the comments are more: my friend has Coeliac Disease, wheat doesn’t agree with me either, I have IBS or I wish I could try Gluten Free. For those of you that are reading this and have ever said any of the above, I hope to shed some light on growing up as a Coeliac and how it isn’t all bad and that you too could live a Gluten Free life and feel all the better for it.
Did you know 1 in 100 people are Coeliac but only 24% of those that suffer have been diagnosed? I class myself as a lucky one! The only effective treatment is to stay well away from Gluten containing foods but it does not mean that you cannot enjoy great flavours. I personally think that it encourages you to try tastier, more colourful foods – just think how bland wheat is! I know I would prefer a nice piece of wild caught salmon with a dollop of Hunter & Gather 100% Avocado Oil Mayonnaise than a belly bloating bowl of pasta.
Over the last two decades, I have seen such a shift in the way we see food, that some of my experiences may sound hilarious to the recently diagnosed Coeliac sufferer – those of you who have had a lifelong diagnosis should be nodding along with the next few paragraphs!
Diagnosed at 18 months old, after a 6-month food trial and a stint in hospital – the nurse consoled my mother who was distraught at the diagnosis. Don’t worry she said, you will never see an overweight Coeliac. The nurse was right, mainly because the Gluten Free aisle was yet to exist and by default, I started my life on an extremely low sugar, low carb diet always with a piece of meat or cheese in my bag.
As time passed, the doctors began offering “gluten alternative products” on prescription. My mum was often seen trundling along the road with a cardboard box loaded to the rafters with my month’s rations. The addition of gluten free bread meant as a child I could feel a little more “normal” with the other kids at lunchtime. Although, I still wonder why those slices of bread were designed for a hobbit and as hard as plasterboard?
A poignant memory came when we travelled to Florida and my mum, as prepared as ever, had made me about 100 cheese sandwiches for the flight – Gluten free on a plane was non-existent you see. The sniffer dogs had a ball as we walked through security, to the extent that the handlers thought my poor mum was smuggling something a lot worse than a cheese sandwich into the country. Thankfully we were allowed to pass through – minus my lunch I will add.
Now this one might scare the recently diagnosed sufferers, there never used to be Gluten Free labelled on products and there were no Gluten Free menus in restaurants! I know, I wonder how I made it through this dreadful time and I am so thankful for the bold lettering these days. What we used to have to do was carry what I can only describe as the bible, around with us everywhere (thank you Coeliac Society). This little bible had almost every product in it that you could look up to see if it was suitable to eat. No apps, no bold allergens listed, just trust in this godly book to get me through the “dark ages”. The amount of chef’s kitchens I have been invited into to look at packaging – I could be a health inspector! And what happens if you got it wrong, or even worse the chef did – you would also become a connoisseur in the quality of toilet paper too.
Is anyone else still bitter that marmite used to be in this book as safe to eat, yet now clearly has Barley as an allergen - GRRR?
Things began to improve some more around the time of the “it’s raining men video” by Gerri Halliwell. Apparently, she used a Gluten Free diet to get this figure and the commercial industry for Gluten Free boomed. Hello Free From aisle and hello to clearly labelled products – I could see the light. After dabbling with gluten free “alternatives” throughout my time at University, I noticed that a lot of these products had increased levels of sugar eeeek. Say goodbye to the comment from the nurse, Coeliac sufferers will always be slim – I had put on a stone!
After the pressures of university subsided, my partner and I went on a journey of discovery, by travelling, seeing different cultures as well as going sugar-free! We saw the effects that a high sugar, high wheat laden diet had had on the indigenous population of Australia and we wanted to learn more.
This began our journey into the Paleo/Primal/Real Food way of life and we have never looked back! By eating this way, both our health/focus and moods have improved past that of just a gluten free diet and Hunter & Gather was born to help others.
If you are also one of the 1 in 100 Coeliac sufferers, see this as a blessing, not a curse. Don’t see what you can’t eat, see what you can eat! Head to your local Organic veg/meat supplier, grow your own and fall in love with real food.
If you are the one saying, I have IBS, my friend is Coeliac or you are thinking you would like to try a Gluten Free lifestyle – Do it! Try cooking food from scratch, you will be surprised at how great you feel! Our Hunter & Gather products are all Gluten and Sugar-Free, so you are safe in the knowledge that we will help you in your transition.
I would love to hear your journey and I really wonder where my Gluten Free life will take me next….