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Living Gluten Free in the UK

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It's been 8 months now. 8 months without gluten in my diet. 8 months without baguettes and "normal" pasta. 8 months without chip shop fish & chips. 8 months without takeaway pizza. 8 months without Yorkshire Puddings.

It's also been 8 months without a bloated, tender-to-the-touch tummy. 8 months of spending far less time on the toilet (sorry, too much information maybe?). 8 months of making sensible food choices. 8 months of learning all of the hidden sources of gluten.8 months of experimenting with gluten-free food.

Maybe living gluten-free is not such a bad thing after all?!

I've spent the last year or so feeling pretty rubbish. Once the wheels were in motion on the diagnosis of coeliac disease I have started to feel considerably better. A friend of mine, Wendy Powell (MuTu System Guru) suggested, back in July, that I start to eliminate wheat from my diet after 2 separate bloggers had asked when my next baby was due. I thought about it and didn't do it. I am stubborn and stupid sometimes.

Fortunately for my overall well-being, the diagnosis of Coeliac Disease is a blessing in disguise. It's forcing me to make a significant change in my diet and lifestyle which I desperately needed to do. There is no treatment or cure for coeliac disease other than NEVER eating gluten again. Not even a little bit. The first two weeks of going gluten free was almost like a detoxification for me. I truly think that I was (am?) addicted to wheat. I went through the stages of grieving for my lost comfort. I think I am actually at acceptance now. I'm no longer cross that I can't eat the same thing that everyone else can. I'm ok with it now. This is a very good thing.

There's not a great deal of support through the NHS for coeliac disease so I took the bull by the horns and did as much online research as possible. I'll recommend 3 sites/organisations to you to start:

  • Coeliac UK- This is the charitable organisation and first port of call for all individuals diagnosed with coeliac disease. You can register and become a member (free for the first six months) which will allow you access to loads of recipes and helpful tips. You'll also receive a welcome pack with the Food and Drink Guide which will help clear up which products do and don't have gluten in them. This will be your bible for grocery shopping and eating out and about.
  • Juvela- Maker of loads of gluten-free foods, Juvela supports coeliacs with products, recipes and resources. Registration with Juvela is free and you will receive a starter kit featuring some of their products. The picture at the top of this post is my starter kit which arrived yesterday. I was gleeful! Juvela food products are only available on prescription after a diagnosis of coeliac disease.
  • Glutafin- Similar to Juvela, Glutafin makes gluten-free products available on prescription only but has a brilliant site which provides recipes, tips and links for further education about eating a gluten-free diet. I have registered with Glutafin and am awaiting my starter kit.

My next step is acquiring a few gluten-free cookbooks as just replacing the traditional flour in a recipe with gluten-free flour is not always a successful modification. Little Miss and I made some scrummy, fudgy fairy cakes courtesy of She Was Not At All Domestic which were met with thumbs-up approval. We'll be doing a bit more baking today to try out some of our Juvela product recipes. My other goal is to master making my own gluten-free bread. This may prove difficult as gluten-free bread weighs approximately 800lbs! Any tips/tricks are more than welcome.

Of course, my gluten-free lifestyle change is mandatory in order for me to feel better and be healthy. I don't want to seem annoying or preachy but the gluten-free way of life is actually considerably healthier for everyone. Maybe you'll learn a thing or two as a result of my experiments and that would be a good thing!