Even though most of you probably know all this anyway, I am still going to break down exactly what gluten is
Gluten is a protein found in the cereals wheat, rye and barley. Some people react to a similar protein found in oats, however this is not always the case. You know your body and you know if you are intolerant to this as well.
For those of you taking on the gluten free diet the most obvious sources of gluten in the diet are bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, flour, pizza bases, cakes and biscuits. BUT Gluten can also be found in foods such as soups, sauces, ready meals and processed foods such as sausages, burgers, stocks and the big one SOY SAUCE (actually fermented wheat). However gluten free alternatives can be found of ALL of these mentioned above, and even though they are slightly more expensive, the choice and range is getting a lot more desirable.
For a full list of gluten free foods and also ready meals and other nasties to avoid check out my list of what to eat and what not to.
This is very different to being intolerant to gluten. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when triggered by gluten. This means that eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and possibly other areas of the body, which could lead to such things as bowel cancer in later life.
I’m not going to go through all of the symptoms because if you are here, you are probably quite clear on what the symptoms are. The main ones are severe stomach cramps, swelling of the stomach until its rock hard, feeling nauseous, and sometimes even feeling fluey with a temperature (this is your immune system kicking in).
Don’t panic, because you are cutting out gluten, this is the treatment, allowing your digestive system and body to heal, and you can talk to your doctor to keep an eye out for any signs of further problems. However if you lead a gluten free lifestyle there is no reason why you should be more at risk from cancer than anyone else.
Coeliac disease can be hereditary, my mum also has it, so if someone in your family does have it, it might be worth other members getting checked up, even if they do not have the symptoms.
Also the rumour that coeliacs are really skinny, anaemic, sickly people, this is NOT true. You can show symptoms of slight intolerance and look like your completely average person but you could still have it.
I think most people dread the day they are told they are a coeliac or gluten intolerant, but I want to prove to you that this is absolutely NOT the case. All you have to do is get a bit more creative with cooking (and prove to everyone that gluten free is really good!) and also just to be that person who asks the waiter at the table for a gluten free menu or the gluten free suggestions. Don’t be embarrassed, as being the bloated uncomfortable one 20 minutes later I can guarantee will be more embarrassing!