Coeliac Disease (Celiac is the American spelling) is an autoimmune disease which causes an intolerance to gluten, and so coeliacs have to follow a strictly gluten-free diet. I am a very sensitive coeliac and also follow a more specialist diet, which involves cutting out refined sugar, soya and grains. For coeliacs, gluten causes damage to the small intestine leading to a variety of symptoms and complications.
Symptoms include diarrhoea, wind and bloating, abdominal pain, tiredness, hair loss, weight loss, and lack of mental clarity. Other health problems are associated, including arthritis, infertility, and thyroid problems. Coeliacs suffer from small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which is an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria in the body, and leaky gut, which is where holes are made in the intestine causing this toxic bacteria to leak into the bloodstream causing sickness and weakening health. Coeliacs need to address this imbalance with probiotic, fermented food, raw prebiotic food, and supplements, and by cutting out the foods that feed and aggravate the condition. They should eat a natural, low-processed diet of whole foods. I recommend eating pseudo-grains, and the soaking and sprouting of seeds, beans and nuts, to access maximum nutrients. Coeliacs malabsorb nutrients, and so this is very important. Eat organically; give yourself the best chance of achieving optimal health. Coeliac disease causes a weak immune system, by eating right you can minimise this, and lead a healthier, fuller life.
An important point about the symptoms of coeliac disease is that they can be latent. I for many years seemed to be only wheat intolerant and indeed this could have been, and most likely was, the trigger for the other autoimmune diseases and health conditions I developed over the following years. If you develop any of the symptoms of coeliac disease, particularly digestive, then do see your doctor and get tested.
Coeliac disease is a difficult and debilitating condition, but it can be managed; learn to accept your limitations and work with them, and your health can and will improve. And trust me, instead of food becoming boring and restricted, food will come alive and be better and tastier than ever!
CUTTING OUT GLUTEN
It is not only coeliacs that are intolerant to gluten, many people are mildly intolerant, others have irritable bowel, others cannot process wheat. Gluten is hard to process and often an irritant, and highly refined gluten is the cause of many ills. Go to this page for a discussion of whether to go gluten-free.
Medical practitioners do not have all the answers when it comes to managing and understanding coeliac disease. You will be very lucky to be given any advice regarding diet, other than to cut out gluten, and this is often not enough. If your symptoms, or the symptoms of related conditions, aren’t going away by cutting out gluten, follow an elimination diet, cut out then reintroduce foods such as soya, sugar and grains, to see how your body is affected. Also make sure that the food you eat is certified gluten-free.
my advice is to listen to your body, to how it reacts and what it needs, research thoroughly, and think about things logically and carefully.
Coeliac (celiac) disease is a difficult disease to manage, but it is possible. The effects of even the smallest amount of gluten can last eight weeks, negatively impacting health and causing bodily inflammation. You need to get the people you share you home with on board, they need to understand the importance of not exposing you to gluten. For a person with severe coeliac disease, like myself, even breathing in gluten makes me ill. My partner and I have a gluten-free oven and pans, this is the only way for me. We use a sandwich toaster and grill outside for gluten foods, which is a system that works for us. Other such methods can be used, so that the people you share your kitchen and house with can eat the foods they want, though it is of course a compromise. But the bottom line is that a coeliac’s needs must be respected; educate the people around you, a coeliac needs a safe environment or they will be unwell, and suffer long-term health effects, which include many serious complications.
I advise coeliacs to follow an anti-inflammation diet. All my recipes support this. Eat as much whole, low-processed food as you can, and home-made when possible, as food prepared outside the home is out of your control contamination wise. Even food labelled gluten-free may have a low level of gluten, and if, like me, you are very sensitive, this can have a negative impact on your health. Don’t eat food that is labelled ‘may contain gluten’ or ‘produced on a line handling gluten,’ it is likely to be contaminated. I have made this mistake many times, and it is just not worth it. Don’t feel embarrassed or awkward questioning how something is prepared and served when eating out, whether it be at family or friends houses, or a cafe or restaurant. By speaking up you are ensuring your safety, and helping to educate others. You need to speak up. It is difficult for people to get out of the cooking habits they have. People often react in unhelpful ways, it is your job to make sure they take your health seriously, and if they don’t, don’t eat there any more, it is not worth it.
be disciplined in your approach to which foods do and do not agree with you, and life will become easier.
GO FOR IT!
Please do share your experience of being a coeliac, gluten or wheat intolerant, feel free to leave a comment or to contact me.
Let’s keep in touch and support each other XX