Food should be a pleasure, not an obsession.

I wrote this article last year for Coeliac Awareness Week, and am reposting it for you this year. The recipes I post are mostly gluten free as my family and I are gluten intolerant. Watch out for hidden ingredients in all foods- so many foods today contain gluten. It is always best to buy fresh, organic foods whereever possible!

Coeliac (pronounced see- le – ak) disease is a permanent, autoimmune condition in which the lining of the small intestines is damaged by gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye.

People with coeliac dis-ease become extremely sick if they eat gluten. The body reacts to gluten like a poison; leaving them with nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and a severely damaged digestive tract. This prevents the body from properly absorbing nutrients in food.  Sufferers become ‘starved’ and as a result, their bodies cannot function properly.

One of the first signs can be unexplained tiredness and a general lack of energy or get-up-and-go. The body is essentially producing antibodies that attack its own tissues.

Coeliac disease was initially thought to be a disease of infancy but is now recognised as occurring at any stage in life, often hereditary. A wide range of symptoms may present themselves:

  • Unexplained anaemia
  • Nutritional deficiencies such as iron, folate or B12
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance such as flatulence, abdominal distension, diarrhoea and/or constipation especially after eating foods containing gluten
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss/gain
  • Delayed growth or delayed general development in children
  • Headaches
  • Liver problems
  • Multiple unexplained fractures
  • Irritability or failure to concentrate
  • Education outcomes that are not as good as they might be

“Untreated, it can lead to chronic poor health, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriage, depression and dental enamel defects. There is also a small, but real, increased risk of certain forms of cancer such as lymphoma of the small bowel.”

There could be a higher risk of having coeliac disease if you have:

  • A family history of coeliac disease
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Unexplained osteoporosis
  • Infertility or multiple miscarriages

Symptoms are often ignored or tolerated however it is estimated that 1 in 100 Australians (nearly a quarter of the population) are affected by this disorder. Awareness is essential for a long life of high quality.

Many people who are Coeliac or gluten intolerant should also avoid dairy due to the lactose found in all dairy produce.

To those living with Coeliac Disease it is essential to avoid gluten entirely. This condition does not go away so, if left untreated it can get worse resulting in hospitalisation. However, as gluten is easier to avoid these days than ever before, food does not have to become a chore. The selection of Gluten Free produce available from the supermarket as well as cafes and restaurants grows each day.

Coles and Woolworths sell a great range of Gluten Free produce in their health section, not to mention specialty supermarkets. People are becoming more educated on healthy food choices and as a result, demanding higher quality for a better price. This is happening. The more awareness there is, the more you CHOOSE for yourself through educated informative choices.

Gluten INTOLERENCE is not the same thing but can lead to coelic dis-ease if left unchecked or ignored. Being intolerant means you can eat gluten but it leaves you with many of the symptoms listed above – a general feeling of being tired and unwell. It is best to take a quick visit to your health professional to know for sure.

I choose a gluten free lifestyle as I am gluten intolerant. Breads, pastas, wheats etc act like glue in my body and feel like concrete trying to digest them, leaving me sluggish, tired, and bloated.  It is just not worth eating that white bread/pasta knowing how I feel afterwards. I choose Gluten Free foods wherever possible. The food tastes so much ‘cleaner’ to my body and so much easier to digest.

One Life, Live It Well.

xx Vashte xx