Tips for coeliacs on Coeliac Awareness Week 2022

Coeliac Awareness Week 2022: 8 tips for those with coeliac disease

Coeliac disease is a serious autoimmune disease caused by the immune system attacking its own tissues when eating gluten. Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach aches, bloating, fatigue, amongst others. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for it and the only treatment is to follow a gluten-free diet.

Living with this disease can be challenging, especially if you’ve recently been diagnosed with it and that's why, this Coeliac Awareness Week 2022, we’ve decided to create a list of practical tips that will make your day-to-day easier.

1. Read labels when you shop

One of the most important things to do when you suffer from coeliac disease is to make sure you read the labels of everything you buy and learn how to read lists of ingredients.

All packaged food in the UK has clear allergen labelling, making it easier to know whether a product is suitable for a gluten-free diet. Although the term and symbol 'gluten-free' can be very helpful, sometimes it’s not enough as you also need to pay attention to the inclusion of ingredients such as barley, rye, oats and spelt.

It’s also important to know that some ingredients, such as maltodextrin or glucose syrups, which are made from cereals containing gluten, are processed in a way that the gluten is removed and therefore, are safe to eat for people with coeliac disease. 

Another important aspect to look out for is the possibility of cross-contamination. In this way, look out for labelling such as: 'may contain traces of gluten', 'not suitable for people with coeliac disease' or 'made in factory handling wheat.'

To make all this easier, Coeliac UK has created a specific app that allows users to have all this information at the tap of a finger and scan items in the supermarket to check if they’re listed in their Food and Drink Information.

2. Be careful with cross-contamination

Cross-contamination doesn’t only apply to food products you buy in the supermarket but can also be a problem when cooking at home or eating at a restaurant.

There are several steps you can follow at home to make sure this doesn’t happen; wipe down surfaces with hot soapy water, clean pots and pans well, use different cutting boards and toasters for gluten-free and gluten containing bread, use different cutlery to make sure no breadcrumbs get into condiments and use a separate pan for frying gluten-free foods.

If you’re not sure about cross-contamination at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter. For example, if you are uncertain about the processes they have in place to avoid cross-contamination you can double-check with the waiting staff. Even a tiny bit of gluten can be enough to cause symptoms for someone with coeliac disease so it's always better to be safe than sorry. 

3. Coeliac UK

Coeliac UK is an independent charity that funds research related to coeliac disease and offers really good resources and tools to help people living with this condition.  

On their page you can find guides to eating out and travelling, information on the gluten-free diet as well as a range of recipes and workshops. You can even join local groups which organise cookery demonstrations, meals out, fundraising events and more.

4. Gluten-free food

It’s important to learn which foods are naturally gluten-free. You can enjoy a range of naturally gluten-free grains and cereals, fresh fruit, meat, fish, cheese and eggs amongst other products.

Although pasta, bread, biscuits and most cereals contain gluten, it doesn’t mean you need to stop enjoying these foods. Nowadays there’s a gluten-free alternative for almost anything, so make sure you go online and find alternatives for your favourite foods!

5. Alcohol

There are a lot of alcoholic drinks which are suitable for coeliacs. Wine, cider, spirits and liqueurs are all suitable for a gluten-free diet. On the contrary beers, lagers and ales contain gluten but nowadays it’s fairly easy to find a few different gluten-free beers in supermarkets, pubs and restaurants.

6. Follow influencers for ideas

The gluten-free and coeliac community on social media can help you in many ways. From providing inspiration for recipes and recommending products to being supportive and sharing their journeys.  In this way, following influencers or bloggers who speak about their journey is a very good idea. Here are some influencers we think can really help you in your journey. 

Coeliacsanctuary is a great blog if you are looking for coeliac news, recipes and UK eating guides. The website also includes an online shop where you can purchase coeliac travel cards, wristbands and stickers. On coeliacteenger, Cate shares her favourite places to eat, let’s you know about great supermarkets finds and provides tips to manage your coeliac disease and theglutenfreesuitcase is run by Alex who uses her page to share information about her gluten-free life including food and travel.

If you’re looking for gluten-free recipes to make at home, follow Becky Excell, an award-winning gluten-free food writer with over 210k followers on Instagram. On her Instagram page you will be able to find loads of recipe ideas from gluten-free salted caramel brownies to gluten-free chilli cheese flatbreads and she even shares shopping tips to save money.

7. Plan ahead

When suffering from coeliac disease, activities such as travelling and eating out can become more challenging and stressful and that’s when planning ahead turns into something essential.

When eating out, it’s always a good idea to check the menu beforehand to make sure they cater for coeliacs and there are gluten-free options on the menu. The key to eating out safely is to communicate with restaurant staff to let them know your requirements and, as we mentioned previously, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you see any breaded items on the menu, make sure you clarify whether they use different pans in order to avoid cross-contamination.

If you’ve organised a little trip abroad, there are many things you can do to plan ahead. From researching the local food and packing emergency gluten-free snacks, to preparing useful phrases in the local language that you may need in a restaurant and checking with the hotel in advance to check if they have gluten-free food.

8.Keep an open mindset or positive

The most important thing is to keep a positive mind. Having coeliac disease is not the end of the world, you can still live a normal and happy life.

It may be a bit overwhelming at first but it’s simply a learning process. Awareness around coeliac disease has increased a lot of in the past few years and there’s a better understanding of the disease and more gluten-free foods are popping up in the supermarkets than ever before.

 

At Mr Lee’s we offer a range of gluten-free options. Our ranges of gluten-free rice noodles, breakfast porridges and congees are all available on our online store and you can also find our rice noodles on Ocado.

Mr Lees Team