Elizabeth’s Diagnosis Story

23 February 2021

Elizabeth’s Diagnosis Story

I was diagnosed with coeliac disease just over three years ago when I was in my early fifties. My diagnosis came about after my GP did some blood tests. They showed that my B12 and some other nutrients were extremely low. She was concerned and decided to do further testing and another blood test showed that I probably had coeliac disease. A few weeks later, it was confirmed by an endoscopy.

The diagnosis came as a shock to myself and my GP as I had none of the typical stomach symptoms. I’ve lived with chronic pain for most of my life and had been diagnosed with osteoporosis when I was about 42. Doctors presume that I probably had been living with undiagnosed coeliac disease for many years.

What’s been the biggest challenge to adapting to the gluten free diet?

Adapting to a gluten-free diet wasn’t too bad once I understood the basics and learned to read and understand food labelling. The challenging part was (and still is) eating when not at home. It’s not easy to just nip into a shop to grab a sandwich for lunch. And eating in a restaurant or buying food from a takeaway comes with concerns. Very often they don’t have enough knowledge and don’t understand about cross-contamination. Even when visiting friends or family, I am reluctant to eat food prepared by them because even with the best of intentions, gluten can have a habit of finding its way into food.

Elizabeth’s 3 tips to people who are newly diagnosed with coeliac disease

1. Take a deep breath. A diagnosis of coeliac disease isn’t the end of the world. It’s actually the opposite because once you change to a gluten-free diet, your overall health could improve and you could prevent serious conditions like anaemia and osteoporosis.
2. Don’t just shop in the gluten-free section. Take some time to learn and understand food labels. Once you know what to avoid, you’ll find that there is plenty of naturally gluten-free food elsewhere in the supermarket. Your shopping will be less expensive and you will have more variety in your diet.

3. Home cooking and baking works out cheaper and is normally tastier. However, it’s nice to have a few safe treats stashed somewhere so you don’t ever feel that you’re missing out. Schär’s BBQ Curvies are delicious. Obviously, they’re gluten-free, but many other snacks (like popcorn and some brands of crisps) in the normal aisles are safe too.

Recipe
One of my favourite meals is a homemade sausage casserole. I cook gluten-free sausages together with sliced onions and lots of sliced sweet peppers. Once it’s underway, I add a bottle of tomato passata and season it with salt, pepper and sweet paprika. You can add whatever vegetables you have and can add lentils, beans or chickpeas. It’s so tasty. I cook in large quantities then freeze in individual portions so I have my own frozen ready meals.

You can read more about Elizabeth’s diagnosis of coeliac disease and living with chronic pain on her blog at www.despitepain.com

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© 2021. Glutafin. Dr. Schär UK Ltd. 401 Faraday Street, Birchwood Park, Warrington, WA3 6GA