Getting Started

Gluten free community – a wonderful thing

When I was a child, we had a Saab, one of those where the third row of seats faced backwards. They were so unusual, that owners used to flash and wave frantically at each other when they passed. (Or at least we did – perhaps it was just to entertain us on long journeys.)

Having a coeliac in the family is a little like that. I find I’m having a perfectly reasonable business conversation with someone, when suddenly we’re off on a track discussing the best gluten free cereal for children, or where the gluten free pitta bread in Tesco has gone. Usually I’m recommending the message board.

I think this is a wonderful community to be part of, both helpful and concerned, even if most of it is online rather than in the neighbourhood. I’ve just had a phone conversation with a marketing expert about a client’s website, which I’m designing, and we’re both very engaged in working for the success of this client – at least partly because both of us have a coeliac in the family, and this client provides gluten free food. Yes, we discussed the problems involved in eating out …

Explaining Coeliac/Celiac Disease to your child

We were lucky that our daughter was only one when she was diagnosed, and she has never really known any other way of eating. She did have her own eating issues before she was diagnosed, but that is a subject for another post.

We talk about her ‘special tummy’, and try to make sure that there are treats available in the house that she can eat. In fact, the other children tend to think there are more of her treats than of theirs!

Explaining the disease and the diet to children will naturally depend on their age and understanding. There are booklets available for free from manufacturers, such as that from Juvela, called “I have coeliac disease”, which we think is great, and which has been taken to school and to Brownies to help explain to friends and to adults alike. There are books available from Amazon (try this one, called Eating Gluten Free with Emily).

We talk about how everyone is different – some have red hair, or need glasses, or have legs that don’t work so well – and having a special tummy is just one of the things that is different. But the best thing is, in our view, simply to keep the messages simple, talk about it when relevant and don’t talk about it when your child doesn’t want to. There will come a time (and we might be there now) when it is simply too embarrassing to be discussed every time we eat in public.

Drat, I fell off the wagon

Well, nearly two weeks into my personal gluten-free challenge (to manage a month gluten and dairy free, to see if the condition of my skin improves), and I’ve slipped up.

Coeliac daughter really wanted fish and chips on Friday, so we waited for her father to come home on the train, and set off to the chippie. Of course, by the time we got there, we were all so hungry that I completely forgot to order gluten free fish and chips for myself – just for her. I suppose I’m just more used to thinking of her in terms of gluten free.

It wasn’t even something that mattered to me – the gluten free fish and chips are great. I just forgot.

Oh well, I’ll just climb back on the wagon and try again. Incidentally, even after only a few days, I can see a difference, I think …

Experiment Day Two

My years of preparing gluten free foods should stand me in good stead as I try to manage a month without wheat, barley or rye – and as little dairy as I can manage. I’m going to allow myself oats, because the latest research indicates that uncontaminated oats should be acceptable for an adult coeliac to eat in moderation.

So what have I eaten so far? Breakfast is usually oats and raisins in milk, so I have used water instead – tomorrow I might try apple juice. The lunches I’ve had so far have been hummus and rice cakes, and tuna, kidney bean and onion salad. Soft fruit is in season, so I’ve had several portions of fruit. I’ve really enjoyed the chocolate half-coated rice cakes we recently discovered. Tonight I finished the tuna salad and then tried a dairy free icecream with maple syrup, which was really very nice – much better than I expected.

One problem I foresee is the perennial problem of leftovers. I heated two part-baked loaves tonight, one gluten free and one not – because it is too expensive to feed the whole family with purpose-made gluten free stuff – but my son didn’t finish the not gluten free baguette. Usually I would have ‘helped’. How long will I be able to resist the leftovers?

Still, perhaps I’ll lose some weight.

Here goes – my personal experiment

I’ve been managing our daughter’s gluten free diet for years now, and have been reading around the subject intermittently all that time.

I have read over the years that a gluten free diet has been used to successfully treat psoriasis in some cases (not all), and I read just at the weekend that it has also helped some people (not all) with rosacea.

Given that I have had psoriasis for nearly 40 years now, and developed rosacea three or four years ago, I have decided it is time to try an experiment. I am going to try to follow a gluten free diet for one month. If possible, I shall also make it a dairy free diet.

I know that this isn’t quite the same commitment to be gluten free as those with coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis must make, as my psoriasis and rosacea are really quite minor, and if I lapse the effect will not be so damaging. Nor am I prepared to commit to a life-long restricted diet – except that I gave up meat over 25 years ago, and haven’t missed that. But it will be interesting to see if removing these extra items from my diet will help my skin at all.

As they say, watch this space (and I’ll be watching the mirror).