It is not the end of the world!
So you or a friend has been told they have coeliac disease but what does that really mean. It might make you feel different; however there is nothing to be worried about. It's a common condition affecting 1 in 100 people. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Some people are also sensitive to oats.
The treatment is a gluten-free (GF) diet for life, this is vital for your health. It's not a choice and it's certainly not about being ‘difficult' you have to have gluten-free food otherwise you will be risking your long term health. Once you have explained about coeliac disease, most people will understand that you are not being fussy and will be more than happy to help.
Staying at a mate's
If you plan to stay at a mate's, let them know that you have coeliac disease. Their parent(s) will want to make sure your enjoy yourself and would much rather be prepared than feel awkward that they don't have anything suitable for you to eat. If you can, speak to your friend's parent(s) or drop them an email with the following information:
- I have coeliac disease and need to follow a gluten-free diet. This means that I cannot eat wheat, rye, barley or oats
- Coeliac disease is not an allergy so I won't have an immediate, life-threatening reaction if I accidentally eat gluten, but I will be ill for up to two weeks. Symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting and bone and joint pain
- The Coeliac UK's ‘GF checklist' helps explain what I can and can't eat. The checklist is available at www.coeliac.org.uk or by calling 0870 4448804.
- I can bring my own supply of gluten-free foods such as bread, pasta, crackers, biscuits or pizza bases if you think that would be helpful
- There are a few simple steps to avoid contamination, these include using clean foil on the grill (or toastabags which I can bring), not sharing butter, spreads and jams, wiping areas and washing existing utensils so that there is no gluten residue
Going out for a bite
There's no reason why you can't enjoy eating out with your family and friends.
- When planning a meal out speak to the manager or chef and explain your requirements beforehand. It may feel scary phoning up, but remember that most places will want you to come back and will be more than happy to help.
- You can suggest to the restaurant that they go to Coeliac UK's Catering Guidelines so they fully understand what ‘gluten-free' means. These are available at www.coeliac.org.uk or from their Helpline on 0870 444 8804.
- When you get to the restaurant check again that your requirements have been understood. You can discreetly ask the waiting staff to speak to the chef. There's no need to feel embarrassed - chefs are professionals and they won't want to make you ill.
Coeliac UK have produced a leaflet on ‘Eating Out' which you can obtain from their helpline on 0870 4448804.
For more information, please go to www.coeliac.org.uk.
Try this gluten free recipe provided by Coeliac UK - Yeasted Thick Pizza Crust
Preheat oven 200ºC
You have to Grease a large pizza tray or 2 smaller tins.
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
200g (1 cup) white rice flour
150g (1 cup) arrowroot OR tapioca flour
1/3 cup dried milk powder
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons dry yeast
125ml (½ cup) lukewarm water
1½ teaspoons sugar
4½ teaspoons butter or margarine
65ml (¼ cup) hot water
2 egg whites, room temperature
1. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer put rice flour, arrowroot or tapioca flour, dried milk powder, xanthan gum and salt. Sprinkle yeast into lukewarm water with sugar added. Melt the margarine or butter in the hot water.
2. With the mixer on low, blend the dry ingredients. Add hot water and butter mixture; blend; add egg whites; blend again; add yeast mixture. Beat at high speed for 4 minutes.
3. Spread mixture onto prepared trays, spreading evenly to the edges. Top immediately with pizza sauce and topping ingredients of your choice. There is no need to let this rise but by allowing 20 minutes rise time you will get a thicker pizza.
4. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is golden and the edges are browned