Monday, 6 December 2010
A Girls Guide To Coeliac and Gluten-Free FAQ
Q. "Can't you eat just a little bit?"
A. No, No and er, No. We could eat a teaspoon amount or a milk float load of gluten the result will still be the same..we will be sick on your shoes.
Q. "Can you eat potatoes?"
A. Yes. And swede and carrots and peas and beans and rice. Any and all fruit or veg or pulse.
Q. "What would happen if you ate gluten?"
A. It varies. The most common symptoms are an upset tummy (that's putting it politely) sickness, bloating, fatigue, anaemia and tummy pains. Still going to offer us that Hobnob?
Q. "If I were to wipe a slice of bread over your face would you have a reaction?"
A. I wouldn't personally and to the best of my knowledge I don't think other coeliacs do either, my Doctor didn't say, 'listen, Kate, whatever you do don't wipe a slice of bread over your face', but I'm fine when I make sandwiches for others, I just give my hands a good wash afterwards.
Q. "Is it an allergy?"
A. No, coeliacs is an auto-immune disease, which means when a coeliac eats gluten their body goes mental and starts attacking itself, like Ed Norton in Fight Club. Of course there are people with gluten allergies and people with gluten intolerance's, but these are both different from each other and coeliacs.
Q. "Do you need an EpiPen?"
A. No, EpiPens are for allergies and allergic reactions.
Q. "Would it really be that bad if you just carried on eating gluten?"
A. Would it really be that bad if I slipped arsenic into your dinner every night. Yes, it would be that bad. Aside from the symptoms I mentioned above the long term exposure to gluten can be very damaging. The villi in your bowel (those are the Cadbury's finger type things waving about) get squashed and scarred with exposure to gluten, this in turn stops you absorbing vitamins and all sorts of other lovely (and rather vital) things from your food. Coeliac's have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, suffering miscarriages and are at great risk of bowel cancer. In short you'd be a grade A tool to carry on eating gluten.
Q. "Do you ever just feel like cheating and eat a Rich Tea?"
A . Sometimes, but whether we actually eat the Rich Tea is another question.
Q. "Do you ever cave and eat the Rich Tea?"
A. Maybe a few times at the beginning but not now, not ever, but I can only speak for myself.
Q. "Do you miss the food you used to eat?"
A. A lot of people are diagnosed with coeliac's as a kid, so the question doesn't perhaps apply to them as much as it does to people who are diagnosed when they're older. My answer would be yes and no, I'd be lying if I said that it's easy and that sometimes I just wish I could walk into M&S and pick up a sandwich for lunch, but as times gone on I've forgotten what things taste like, like many other things diet is down to habit forming, and eating gluten free goes from necessity to habit really quite quickly, so it becomes ingrained in your routine and lifestyle.
Q. "You don't mind if I just use the knife I used to butter my sandwich to cut your toast do you?"
A. Do you mind if I put laxatives in your porridge? I'ts a common misconception that large amounts of gluten have to be consumed in order to have a reaction, buts it's actually one of the easiest ways to get a 'glutening' . Think seperate toasters, cutlery, crockery and tupperware.
Q. "Aren't you just being fussy and neurotic?"
A. If we could eat gluten we would. People under estimate how bloody hard it is to eat gluten free 24/7, you have to be constantly vigilant (and patient with people who ask, 'aren't you just being fussy?') and it's not an easy way to live, it's not a lifestyle choice, it's not a fad diet or a 'I'm cutting out bread because it makes me a bit bloated'. We aren't being awkward, or fussy and we're not on a diet to fit into our size 10 jeans. It's an illness which can be managed through diet alone, we have to do it, and so would you.
Q."Can coeliac disease kill you?'
Q. "If you eat gluten will you be well again the next day?"
A. This again, varies, some people are ill for 24 hours, others for weeks.
Q."Can you tell if something has gluten in?"
A. We're not sniffer dogs at Gatwick Airport you know! Being coeliac doesn't mean we have an inbuilt gluten radar, we only know if somethings got gluten in when we eat it and have a reaction.
Q."Can you take medication for it?"
A. No, as of yet scientists have not found a cure or developed drug therapy for coeliac's, mainly because they've been fannying around cloning sheep and genetically engineering brussel sprouts to grow to the size of apples.
Q."Will you get better? Can you grow out of it?"
A. At 25 there's not much I will ever grow out of, even if I was a rug rat i still wouldn't grow out of coeliacs, it's a life long illness.
Q. "Is Coeliacs contagious?"
A. Yes, because if it was I'd have been breathing in your face for the last half an hour wouldn't I? No, its not catching, but every time someone asks me this I wish that it was, even more so if they assume that it is and then avoid me until the end of time.
Q."Will it hurt me to eat your food?"
A. No, there's nothing in gluten free food that you wouldn't find in your everyday diet. It's not medicated and it's safe for everyone to eat.
Q."Blimey, your bread is over two quid for a loaf, why is gluten free food so expensive?"
A. Scarcity drives the prices up! Not only is it expensive to produce gluten free food, but its classed as specialised and is often expensive as a result, but there are a lot of gluten free companies that produce good quality food that is value for money such as Dietary Specials, Glutafin, Tru Free and Doves Farm and coeliacs get a lot of food on prescription.
Q. "Are all coeliacs able to get food on prescription?"
A . Most people upon diagnosis can get food on prescription from their doctor, but sometimes things like age, gender, and location affects what you can and can't get on prescription varies.
Q."Chuffing Nora, if I were you I'd never go out to eat ever again, how do you manage it?"
A. As I've mentioned before dining out is no picnic (excuse the pun), it can be a royal pain in the arse, but there are restaurants and waiters and companies in the know, and who are willing and able to make dining experiences easy and safe for coeliacs. are we worried we'll get glutening when we dine out? I'd be lying if I said no. If you or your 'coeliac' need a helping hand in the dining out department check out my guide to dining out.