Coeliac disease your questions answered

It’s pronounced ‘see-liac’ and, just like its pronunciation, there can be a lot of confusion around the condition. LK and Coeliac UK have joined forces to demystify things and offer support…

“It’s food allergy, right?”
Wrong. Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or an intolerance but an autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten and which can be genetic.

Whilst there is no cure for the condition, a strict gluten-free diet resolves the symptoms and, with the gluten-free food market ever expanding, the food choice for coeliacs is improving every day.

“Are foods containing gluten easy to spot?”
Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, which means food containing traditional flour (breads, pasta, cereals, cakes and biscuits) are not coeliac-friendly. Keep an extremely keen eye on the ingredient list of shop-bought foods, particularly those that are processed. Fish fingers, sausages, gravies, sauces, stock cubes and even some chocolate also contain gluten. Many products now feature ‘gluten-free’ labelling.

“I wonder if I’m coeliac….”
The disease can cause a wide range of symptoms and it can affect different people in different ways. But here are some key signs to look out for:

* Frequent bouts of diarrhoea or loose stools
* Nausea and vomiting
* Stomach pain and cramping
* Lots of gas and bloating
* Feeling tired all the time
* Anaemia
* Weight loss (although not in all cases)
* Regular mouth ulcers
* Constipation or hard stools
* Skin rash

“Sounds just like me. What do I do?”
Book an appointment with your GP (especially if you have Type 1 diabetes or autoimmune thyroid disease) and they can organise a simple blood test.

You can also complete an online assessment here, which will assess your symptoms and any risk factors.

“I’ve just been diagnosed. Help! I need support…”
Coeliac UK is the national charity for people living gluten free and, as well as carrying out all-important research and raising awareness, they provide independent, trustworthy advice and support to coeliacs – including recipes, a helpline and a regular magazine. The charity also has two smartphone apps – Gluten Free Food Checker and Gluten-free on the Move.

Both are available to charity members, click here to sign up. 

“Can I make my own gluten-free food?”
Absolutely! Let’s say it’s lunchtime, and a friend is popping by – how does Rainbow Salad Wraps and Free From Angel Slices from Tesco sound? The latter can be whipped up in an instant using Newburn Bakehouse’s Gluten Free High Protein Wraps – created by Warburton bakers using an abundance of flavoursome seeds, they’re high in fibre and low in sat fat too. 

Newburn Bakehouse has its very own dedicated gluten, wheat and milk-free bakery and offer a wonderful range of gluten, wheat and milk free products. Tesco’s Free From products are plentiful too, especially if you have a sweet tooth – gluten-free jam tarts to crème caramel anyone?

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