Embracing the gluten free challenge for Coeliac awareness week

What are you doing to raise awarness of coeliac disease for Coeliac awareness week – The gluten free challenge? Find out more about the Gluten Free Challenge on the Coeliac UK website.

Gluten Free ChallengeThis week, from 14 – 20 May 2012, is Coeliac Awareness Week and the theme, as discussed above, is The Gluten free Challenge. Well, I can handle that. Surely? As a hardened allegen avoider already, what’s one new thing when I’ve already been used to eating many #GF foods anyway?

Coeliac disease isn’t common but it does seem to be on the rise, just like allergies. However, is it just that people are getting a proper diagnosis sooner instead of suffering in silence with irritable bowel type complaints.

Ultimately, if left undiagnosed, coeliac disease can result in long-term ill-health, osteoperosis and even in rare cases, death. Coeliac disease effects the lining of the intestines so that it becomes damaged, so that food is not absorbed properly, the body doesn’t benefit from nutrients, the person can loose weight dramatically due to diarrhea or suffer constipation. Not everyone has the same symptoms, which is why it’s so hard to diagnose.

It’s not an allergy, though there is a shared feeling between those with a wheat and or gluten allergy and those with coeliac disease because the treatment is the same – avoid the gluten and wheat.

I have often thought I had a problem digesting wheat and gluten, but it was never as serious as the allergies I also have, which are life threatening. The wheat would just leave me bloated, but I felt, in the interests of maintaining as normal and broad a diet as I could that I tried to eat some regularly.

I didn’t want to develop another real allergy by avoiding it too stringently. My health is far, far better when I do avoid the wheat though and recently the side effects have been so painful and uncomforatable, affecting my daily life immensely, so I’ve decided that it’s got to go. I am hoping to get retested to find out what is happening but chronic stomach cramps that wake me in the night and constipation that lasts weeks isn’t something I can live with.

I have discovered that ‘going truly gluten free’ is certainly a challenge.

Toast got me at the first hurdle

In fact I failed at the first hurdle. The toaster!

I realised that I have been making my gluten free toast in the same toaster as my wheat eating husband. Perhaps there is challenge number two – to him – Mr what allergy has to go gluten free too!

To go truly gluten free you should really have your own toaster; even tiny traces of gluten could make a coeliac person ill.

Neither our finances nor our kitchen surface space would allow this kind of luxury so I opted for the next best thing. I bought some toasta bags. If you’ve not come across them before they are small black pouches that you put your bread into before putting the bag into the toaster. I found the toast took a little longer to brown, but brown it did.

These bags are washable and can be reused upmteen times. They only cost few quid so are a much cheaper option than separate toasters and you can even put in fillings to make a toasted sarnie straight from your toaster! Not tried that yet but I’m liking the idea.

You can buy these via Amazon on the What Allergy buy stuff page. Watch out though – the bags get very hot!

I’m not sure if you can get narrow ones but it’s a tight fit in my toaster and I have to fold the edges in. Anyone else have that problem? Can you get small ones? Since #GF bread is often smaller anyway.

And so, today I made it through breakfast with my gluten free oaty porridge with stewed apples and sultanas. My lunch of lentil and vegetable soup was homemade and gluten, dairy, tomato and celery free as well as being very, very tasty. The Genius bread toast today went into the toastabags so day two has been a success.

Don’t tell anyone, but I did see crumbs in the Pure spread… were they from another person’s gluten infested toast? Dammit! Failed again.

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. http://www.whatallergy.com was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. Cooking hot food in hot plastic, Ruth! I wouldn’t recommend it, sorry. It’s one of my pet toxic hates and I cringe every time I see these new cook in plastic bag things on adverts. Ugh. Same shudder I get when I see people breathing in air fresheners and spraying them near their kids on the ads too. I shout at the telly! Treat yourself to a new toaster; you can get one for less than a fiver nowadays. Please.

    • Gosh Micki you have me worried now… must look into this. I agree about air fresheners. Yuk. Sort out the smell, don’t mask it with another toxic one.

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