It’s time to talk about gluten and Coeliac Disease

It’s Coeliac disease awareness here in the UK this week and it has our country thinking about gluten-free eating. What is Coeliac disease and what the heck does gluten have to do with it? I’m glad you asked!

Coeliac disease is NOT an allergy to wheat, as some people believe. It’s an autoimmune disease that lasts a lifetime and is caused by a physical reaction to even the tiniest bit of gluten. The symptoms include: bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), hair loss and anaemia

Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine.

Dealing with this condition means a very restrictive gluten-free diet for life. Normal bread, pasta, cakes, pies, and alcoholic beverages (and more) are not to be eaten… ever. There are alternatives and the market for these specially made foods is growing! For those suffering from coeliac disease, eating these special made foods is completely worth it to get their lives back on track.

Shockingly, half a million people in the UK are living with coeliac disease and don’t even realize it. That’s what Coeliac Awareness Week is all about. Helping people understand that they too are perhaps suffering from this untreated ever pervasive illness.


On a gluten-free diet, you can still eat rice, corn, potatoes, meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables and pulses (peas, beans and lentils). Gluten-free specialist foods, such as gluten-free breads and gluten-free pasta, are available in supermarkets, on prescription, in health food shops, by mail order and via the internet.

Speaking of the internet, it’s flooded with tons of gluten free alternatives in places you might not expect!

Join Coeliac UK
Joining Coeliac UK can give you lots of detailed information about living with coeliac disease.

Benefits of being a Member include (from their website):

  • access to their Food and Drink Directory, which lists thousands of food and drink products that are safe to eat
  • Crossed Grain Magazine, issued three times a year
  • access to their expert Helpline – 0333 332 2033
  • access to their smartphone app – Gluten-free on the Move – to help you manage your gluten-free diet on the go
  • the ability to meet up with Members in your area via their Local Voluntary Support Groups
  • other information sheets and booklets to help you manage your condition
  • other online services such as our email newsletter, Venue Guide and Recipe Database. They also have an online shop which stocks a range of gluten-free cookery books.