Date: Tuesday 17th September 2013
Dr Schar have a team of freelance ambassadors who visit local Coeliac groups and speak to newly diagnosed Coeliac's in hospital clinics. This team has a very important job to create brand awareness and build customer relationships.
1. At what age were you diagnosed with Coeliac Disease?
Hello, my name is Carol Evans, I was 39 when I was first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, for 10 years my doctor diagnosed me with IBS.
2. Pre-diagnosis, what signs and symptoms occurred that led you to the discovery that you had Coeliac Disease?
I never had digestive problems and this was very sudden and severely debilitating. The medication made things worse and it did not matter what I ate, nothing improved, often things got a lot worse. I lost weight, at my lowest was only 6 and a half stone, totally lethargic and constantly on the toilet to move my bowels. I had a fantastic trip of a lifetime holiday with my husband to the Far East; during the holiday my strength came back and my symptoms almost totally disappeared. On return the symptoms reared their ugly head and I was admitted to infectious diseases where eventually I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease.
3. Before your diagnosis had you heard of the term ‘gluten intolerance’?
I had never heard of Coeliac disease and no-one I knew had gluten intolerance. Certainly it was not a subject that was spoken about in conversations.
4. After your diagnosis what major changes did you put into place to manage your diet?
I immediately removed gluten products from my diet but had relapses as many products that one wouldn’t assume had flour in them had.
5. How did you explain the seriousness of Coeliac Disease to your loved ones?
Twenty years ago there was very little information available and dietitians gave minimal information. Family and friends appeared to find my situation funny, not realising how ill I became and made jokes about `poor carol` no bread and cakes were common remarks.
6. How do you handle gluten free eating out or going on holiday?
While on holiday, I used a handbook produced by Coeliac UK that was available in different languages. The book displayed clear warnings that I could point to in order to inform others about my gluten free diet. I also carried bread and crackers on holiday incase I should encounter a delay while travelling. As the web became more accessible, I would type out specific requirements concerning food and my diet and translate it into the spoken language of where I was visiting.
7. Do you carry food in your bag for busy days or emergencies? If so let us know what Gluten Free treats you like to snack on?
I carry Glutafin individually wrapped cheese biscuits and shortbread.
8. What food do you miss eating most since being diagnosed Coeliac?
I find that adapting my eating habits to my medical needs is fairly easy as I do not miss out on the foods that I enjoy most. I love foods such as pizza that I tend to bake myself, I also enjoy curries that are not made with wheat flours or soya sauces.
9. What is the most important thing all Coeliac’s should know?
Always ask questions when eating out such as "Is this gluten free and are your chips cooked in the same oil as other items?" Also if you order a baked potato with cheese, be careful as most catering firms buy grated cheese from other manufacturers. Usually the dust in the cheese contains wheat flour to stop the pieces sticking together.
10. If you knew that someone was experiencing signs and symptoms of Coeliac Disease what recommendations would you make?
My advice would be to make an appointment with their local GP and ask for a blood test to determine if they have Coeliac Disease with intolerance to gluten. I would recommend that they do not alter their diet until all the tests have been completed as this may give an incorrect result from the tests carried out.
I eat all meats avoiding anything that is dusted with pre-prepared spices and flavourings as they may contain gluten. I enjoy all fresh vegetables, fruit and salads - 80% of all my foods are home cooked. If I eat in a restaurant, Indian food is always my favourite choice!
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