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Gluten Free Student Life

I’m delighted to have a guest post for you today from Saara Aziz, who has many years of experience living a student life whilst having coeliac disease and understands the difficulties many students face trying to live gluten free. It is due to this experience that Saara decided to blog and create her site: The Gluten Free Student Cookbook. The aim of the site is to allow students the chance to try easy and cheap gluten free recipes, especially for those who aren’t yet confident in cooking.

Over to you, Saara!

Being a student at University is one of the most exciting, fun and life changing experience most of us face in our lifetime. It’s during this time that you find yourself growing up, making your own decisions and finding that independence you so longingly craved.

Yet being a student can also prove to be quite stressful with a lot of students finding it difficult to find that right balance between studying hard and playing hard, eating well and socialising too. However, suddenly finding yourself being diagnosed with coeliac disease or having coeliac disease previously, can prove to be quite difficult at first and understandably, very daunting.

I was studying in my first year when I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. I was having such a rotten time, that I assumed my stomach problems and pains were a result of stress. If my parents hadn’t dragged me to the doctors, I don’t know how long it would have taken for me to be finally diagnosed with coeliac disease –

Understandably, being told I had coeliac disease did make me have a […]

Going Gluten Free: Sample Menus

Thanks to all those who contacted me after receiving the new Free From newsletter. (If you haven’t signed up yet, why not? See top right and do it today!)

You raised some very interesting questions, some of which I’ve answered by email, but there are some I thought I’d answer here. Here’s the first:

I’ve just discovered I can’t eat wheat or gluten. Can you recommend some websites to help me put together a sample menu for the week?

This must be an issue for a lot of people: where to start? I know what it’s like: you open your cupboard, and everything you see contains gluten. What are you going to eat?

I did a bit of research on this, and there are indeed many great websites to help you get started. Here are just a few I found:

  • The Gluten Free Week gives ideas and recipes for main meals, a week at a time. There are 18 weeks of recipes up there today, so I hope you could find something you’d like.
  • Then there’s the Gluten Free Cooking School, who offers weekly menus:
  • Some time ago, Gluten Free Mommy started a menu swap to provide ideas for dinner each week. Every week, a different gluten free blogger is the host, lots of gluten free bloggers post their menus for the week on their own blog, and the host collates the links to everyone else’s meal plans. Again, this tends to be main meals only, but a bit of digging reveals lots of fab ideas.

    Start here but do follow the links to the other participating gluten free bloggers, all […]

Newly Diagnosed as Gluten Free?

Newly diagnosed? If you have recently been diagnosed here in the UK, then, I strongly recommend that you contact the big manufacturers – the ones that provide prescription goods – and ask them for a sample pack. This means that you get to taste a variety of different items to find out which you prefer, and the manufacturers get to market their goods to you, to try and persuade you to put those on your prescription requests. The benefits are two-way, so don’t be shy to ask.

toad in the holeGlutafin sent us one of their welcome starter hampers recently, and a very generous hamper it is, too, containing flour mix, pasta, biscuits, crackers, a pack of sliced seeded bread and a pack of fresh white bread, several packs of bread rolls of various kinds, including part-baked. The hamper also contained several recipe cards and a storage device to hold them. I must admit to having been completely foxed by the storage thing: I thought it must be a ring-binder, and was struggling to make it work… Lucky we have children in the house, because our eldest sussed it out quite quickly, and turned it into a recipe holder – the sort that stands on your worktop and you can ‘flip’ the recipes over the top.

We haven’t had Glutafin bread on my daughter’s prescription for years, and she was pleasantly surprised, particularly by the fresh bread. You may know that these fresh breads are relatively new to market, and the bread options for coeliacs seem to be getting better all the time.

I made Toad in the Hole with the Glutafin flour mix, using […]

Live gluten free – because you’re worth it

Diagnosed as coeliac?

Don’t be tempted by people who suggest that ‘a little bit won’t hurt’, urge ‘just this once’, or say ‘go on – I won’t tell anybody’, while offering you a plate of gluten-full food.

Your health is worth more than the moments pleasure that a proper croissant might give. Yes it is! Even if you don’t suffer any symptoms in the next few days, you will have done yourself some internal damage, and it will take much longer for that damage to heal than it did for you to eat that tempting treat.

Not only that, but your self-esteem might drop too. Are you really the sort of person who can’t say no? And if you give in this time, you are setting yourself up to be tempted by these people again, as they won’t understand that gluten free is for life if you don’t explain it to them clearly enough.

So – health, self-esteem and an easier life? I’d say you were worth it!

Not yet diagnosed?

Perhaps you’ve not been diagnosed as coeliac, but do think that gluten is your problem. Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome, but you’re not convinced that this is the right diagnosis, or perhaps your symptoms are continuing …

If you still have concerns about your health, go back to the doctor. Or ask for a second opinion. Even change your doctor. You are worth it.

Gluten free, yes – but disabled?

I had dinner at the weekend with a friend who was explaining the shift in culture towards disabled people. My friend is disabled by MS and was explaining a shift from:

Medical (Poor you – there’s something wrong and we can’t ‘fix’ you – you are an unlucky victim)

to

Personal (You must take responsibility for ensuring that you can participate in society – it is still your responsibility to ask for help when you need it)

to

Social (Society must take responsibility for ensuring equal access – it is society that has the problem, not you, and should change to accommodate you).

Now, this is very interesting indeed, as it resonated with a conversation I had with one of the teachers at my daughter’s school, following a school trip.

Where does individual responsibility stop?

whitewheat.gifDaughter 1 (our coeliac) went away for 5 days on a school residential. I talked to school about her dietary requirements in advance; both the school and I talked to the hotel. All was under control, and I sent the usual range of gluten free products for her.

It turned out that although the hotel did manage her diet very well – I have no complaints at all about them – my daughter was too shy, aged 11, to ask for her bread to be refreshed. (In case you don’t know, the gluten free bread that we get on prescription usually needs heating to make it edible. I could have sent fresh bread, but after 3 days it would have been blue and furry). She relied on her friends and on the school staff to ask for this to happen.

The teacher who had organised the […]