October 21, 2017

Most frequently asked questions about Coeliac disease/a gluten free diet

Being diagnosed with Coeliac disease is life changing. Suddenly, there is a long list of foods that you aren’t able to eat, there’s numerous restaurants that you can no longer eat at and the ease of being able to grab ‘on the go’ or go out for a last minute lunch with friends is no longer there. I’m sure if you have Coeliac disease you will agree that checking the back of food packets and studying restaurant allergen menus in advance becomes second nature! For newly diagnosed coeliac’s, the whole process can be very daunting, often leaving you with lots of questions. Here are my most frequently asked questions by friends, family and Instagram followers in regards to a gluten free diet and Coeliac disease. I hope some of these are helpful to you!

I have all the symptoms for Coeliac disease, shall I stop eating gluten? 

No. If you have the symptoms for Coeliac disease, you should consult your doctor straight away. Firstly, it may not be Coeliac disease and secondly, if you stop eating gluten before the doctor tests you, the test result will not be accurate and they will ask you to reintroduce the gluten for an additional 6 weeks before being tested again!

Is Coeliac disease genetic? 

Yes. Evidence shows that Coeliac disease is genetic, meaning if you are Coeliac and someone else in your family is showing similar symptoms, they should be checked out straight away. If you have Coeliac disease, there is a 1 in 10 risk that your son or daughter will also.

Are oats gluten free? 

Standard oats are not suitable for Coeliacs as they are produced in the same place as wheat, barley and rye making them unsafe. However, most Coeliacs are able to eat gluten free oats as these are ‘uncontaminated’. A small percentage (5%) of Coeliac’s cannot tolerate gluten free oats due to the protein Avenin, however my advice would be to give them a go in small quantities to see how you react and go from there.

This product states that it ‘May contain gluten’. Can I eat it?

Products that state ‘May contain gluten’ mean that there is a possibility that during the manufacturing process, the product may have come in to contact with gluten. The warning is there because the company cannot 100% guarantee that the product is gluten free. I asked this question over on my Instagram to see how many people ignored the ‘may contain’ warnings and was surprised at over 50% of people risking these products. It is a completely personal choice, however I do try to avoid ‘may contain’ products as it’s not worth the risk for me.

Is rice gluten free? 

This is a question that I have been asked so many times! People that don’t know much about a gluten free diet assume that rice contains gluten. Rice is 100% gluten free (phew!).

Are gluten free products healthier? 

No! It’s a huge myth that gluten free products are ‘healthier’ and ‘better for you’. In fact, gluten free biscuits and cakes often contain more sugar and fats than normal biscuits! Of course, if you are staying away from the freefrom aisle and eating a naturally gluten free diet of meat, vegetables, fruit etc then yes, of course this is healthier. But if you are picking the gluten free biscuits over ‘normal’ biscuits because you think they are healthier, they aren’t!

Can I no longer eat any grains?

Good news – A lot of grains are gluten free! You are still able to eat quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, gluten free oats, rice, sorghum and teff!

Do I need to have my own cooking utensils and kitchen equipment? 

It’s not essential to have all your own cooking equipment if you make sure that the people you are living with are aware of the importance of cleaning up thoroughly after themselves. I do however, recommend having your own toaster (or side of the toaster), bread bin and cupboard shelf. It is important that you do not consume gluten through cross contamination therefore ensure that all work surfaces and chopping boards are cleaned properly!

Can I drink beer? 

Most beers contain gluten however more recently, brands are bringing out plenty of gluten free beer alternatives – just make sure to check the label for ‘gluten free’! Head to the free from aisle of most supermarkets and I’m sure you will find at least 1 gluten free beer option.

Is having Coeliac disease expensive?

It can be. The freefrom aisle has a tendency to be very overpriced! If you stick to eating naturally gluten free foods such as meat, potatoes, rice, vegetables, fruit, salad etc, you can eat for a relatively cheap price. However, as soon as you involve the freefrom aisle it gets expensive. Brands tend to charge a lot more for gluten free products, so shop around to find the best price and buy items when they are on offer or reduced!

Which is my favourite supermarket for freefrom options? 

A lot of UK supermarkets have started to up their game when it comes to freefrom options! My favourite supermarkets to shop in at the moment for gluten free products are Tesco and Sainsbury’s, as I find they offer the widest range of products. For my recent post about Tesco’s new freefrom options, click here.

So there you have it. Some of the most frequently asked gluten free/coeliac disease related questions. I hope you have found this helpful and if you have any other questions please ask 🙂

Alice x

2 responses to “Most frequently asked questions about Coeliac disease/a gluten free diet”

  1. AJ says:

    I get a lot of these same questions! I’ve learned just to eat fruits, veggies and protein and make my own treats. It seems every time I try a “treat” I end up paying for it. I also avoid “may contain foods”, it’s just easier on me.

  2. I field a lot of the same questions, so thanks for posting this! So important for people to have good information about going gluten free. I love how many great resources there are now. Keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂

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