“There are changes in your biopsies consistent with Coeliac Disease”
What do I do now, and more importantly, I’m hungry so what can I eat?!
Do I go gluten free from this minute onwards? Do I go half and half and slowly start swapping my ‘normal’ foods for the gluten free options and eventually I will be fully gluten free? Do I do nothing and wait to see the dietician first so that I know what’s what? I’m not one to make things easy for myself, so I also have the added issues of a history of anxiety/depression, and an eating disorder, to try and navigate my way into a gluten free lifestyle (but, more on that in a separate post).
HOWEVER, panic not!! Coeliac UK to the rescue! Coeliac UK is the leading UK charity for Coelic and dermatitis herpetiformis (the appearance of Coeliac on the skin) and has a wealth of information relating not only to the treatment of Coeliac, but the initial symptoms and diagnosis phases.
Coeliac UK was my go-to website as soon as I had my diagnosis, and the easiest way I found to keep stock of all the information was to create an account and sign up as a member for £24 a year, and then scrapbook all the articles and recipes that you I came across in my online account. For me, the two most useful aspects of being a member so soon after diagnosis, was access to the food and drink directory, and the Coeliac UK app.
Now, the Food and Drink Directory is the ultimate gluten free bible! Every single product (well, 99.9% of them) that is suitable for coeliacs is in the directory, and any product changes or updates are noted on the website or on the news section of the app. The directory is split into two sections; one for foods that meet the GF criteria and are labelled as Gluten Free, and another section for foods that are made from non-gluten ingredients, but aren’t specifically labelled as GF (every day/mainstream food products). There is also a section specifically for the leading supermarkets, which lists all their own brand products in store.
My second Coeliac UK saviour, was the App. It’s pretty much a portable version of the directory, but also includes a news page for product updates, a guide to eating out, label advice, and my favourite most super handy thing – a barcode scanner! As someone who has only just been diagnosed, I still don’t fully trust my ingredient reading skills or the gluten free label (cue my food anxiety) so this was ideal- you simply scan the barcodes from any products you fancy buying, and ta-daa, it tells your straight away if its Coeliac approved or not!
Please be assured that along side the help and advice of Coeliac UK, you will also get referred to a consultant and dietitian upon diagnosis, but Coeliac UK is a great place to start (especially as no one wants to go hungry while they wait for their appointments to come through!).
The thought of having to completely change your diet and lifestyle to suit the demands of going gluten free can be daunting, but I was always re assured throughout the process that GF products are now so so much more accessible and varied than they were even 5 years ago, and you will find something you like! Take a look online, read some blogs, chat with friends (you’d be surprised how many people will say “oh I know someone with Coeliac too”) and just patiently make your way through the initial process of transferring to gluten free life. Its an opportunity to re-vamp your diet, feel better, and start practising your home cooking skills!
Let the gluten free diet commence …… !