Here is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Coeliac disease with answers;
Q. What is coeliac disease?
A. Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means that the body cannot properly absorb nutrients from food. Once diagnosed, it is treated by following a gluten-free diet.
Q. What can you eat on a gluten free diet?
A. On the gluten-free diet you can eat any naturally gluten-free foods, such as:
• fruit and vegetables
A more comprehensive list (compiled by CoeliacUK) can be found at the following link https://www.coeliac.org.uk/document-library/126-gluten-free-checklist/
Q. Is coeliac disease the same as an allergy to wheat?
A. Coeliac disease is not the same as an allergy to wheat. Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease. Wheat allergy is a reaction to proteins found in wheat, triggered by the immune system and usually occurs within seconds or minutes of eating.
Q. What about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
A. Symptoms of IBS are often similar to those of coeliac disease. It is important for anyone with IBS-like symptoms to be screened for coeliac disease. A person with IBS may find their symptoms improve if they follow a gluten free diet but you should always consult a healthcare professional before following a restrictive diet of any kind.
Q. Surely a breadcrumb wouldn’t hurt someone with coeliac disease?
A. Even very small amounts of gluten can be damaging to people with coeliac disease. Therefore, taking sensible steps to avoid cross contamination with gluten is important.
Q. Can I only buy foods from the free-from section of supermarkets?
A. No, thankfully, as they can be very costly! If you are diagnosed with coeliac disease, you will be able to get staple foods on prescription from your GP. There are many naturally occurring gluten free foods that allow you to follow a balanced diet. See list posted in link above.
SHARING A KITCHEN? TOP TIPS TO AVOID CROSS CONTAMINATION!
• Keep your gluten-free ingredients separate from other ingredients.
• Try to sort out with your flat-mates having your own section of worktop. If that isn’t practical, thoroughly wipe down surfaces before preparing your food. It’s basic food hygiene anyway!
• Clean pots and pans with soap and water (standard washing up or using a dishwasher will remove gluten)
• Use a separate toaster – if you’re living in halls, explain to your accommodation office, they may give you new one of your own! Alternatively, use toaster bags.
• Use different butter knives and jam spoons to prevent breadcrumbs from getting into condiments.