If you scroll through earlier posts on this blog you will see that I enjoy baking, and it would be safe to assume that I enjoy consuming those baked goods. Well things have certainly changed for me over the last few months.
Bread, cake, Tim Tams, pasta, crackers, Maltesers, Kit Kats…some of the good things in life. Just take a moment to appreciate some of your favourite foods. What is your favourite snack? Your favourite meal? Imagine how it tastes on your tongue, the texture of it, the way it makes you feel when you eat it. Now imagine one day you are told you can never have those things again, they are causing you harm and for the sake of your health you must give them up for good.
This is my new reality.
I was recently diagnosed with Coeliac, an autoimmune disease. Basically, my immune system becomes confused and attacks healthy cells within my body when I consume gluten.
It all started with a recent visit to my GP. I had been feeling severely dizzy for about a week, I assumed it was simply low iron (common for me) and I thought it might be time for a blood test, the doctor agreed. A few days following the test I received a call from my GP, ‘your blood test shows you might be Coeliac’, he explained that I would need to see a specialist and arrange for further tests.
Coeliac? I had heard the term before. I knew people with Coeliac disease couldn’t eat gluten, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I was confused because there didn’t seem to be a clear link between consumption of gluten products (which in my mind was limited to bread and pasta) and digestive symptoms for me. I did some research and discovered its autoimmune disease classification. A Coeliac sufferer’s immune system attacks the lower intestine in response to the presence of gluten. These attacks can cause severe symptoms or no symptoms at all, either way the intestines become damaged and unable to sufficiently absorb nutrients. Various vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common among Coeliacs, causing them to be at higher risk of malnutrition, osteoporosis and various bowel cancers.
‘You will need to have a colonoscopy and gastroscopy to confirm a Coeliac diagnosis,’ is the gist of what the specialist had to say. This is common procedure in the diagnostic process for Coeliacs, although a blood test can show the presence of antibodies, it is a biopsy from the lower intestines that will 100% confirm the diagnosis.
It might be common, but it ain’t no walk in the park! For 3 days before the procedure I had to follow a strict diet consisting of very basic foods, the day before consisted of a small meal and the consumption of very strong laxatives. All this to ‘correctly prepare the bowel’. The 24 hours before the procedure were…unpleasant to say the least.
Immediately following the procedure, my specialist informed me I had no intestinal damage and was free to continue eating gluten until the biopsy results were returned in a couple of weeks. She seemed to expect I would get a negative result from the biopsy. But we know how this story ends, about a week and a half later I was confirmed to have coeliac disease.
Now, my initial thoughts were that this meant no more cake or bread or really any ‘proper’ baked goods ever again. However, I have since learned this is far from the reality of modern day Coeliac life. There are so many alternatives that, I promise I’m not lying, actually taste much the same as the regular gluten stuff. I have found many brands that have amazing snacks, sweet and savoury, and countless recipes to try.
I decided this blog would be a fun way for me to organise my own thoughts, connect with other Coeliacs and maybe provide some insights for those who suspect they may be Coeliac, or who have also recently been diagnosed. Let’s figure this out together!
This is where I will share my gluten-free journey – learning to bake and cook gluten-free, trying gluten-free products and any new information I learn.