Many articles in the media indicate that It is a healthy choice to eat a gluten a free diet to improve health. However for people with coeliac disease it is essential, life changing and the only treatment available.
What is coeliac disease and what are the symptoms?
Coeliac disease is a permanent intestinal intolerance to dietary gluten, a protein found in some plants. It induces an autoimmune reaction in the lining of the small bowel which causes villous atrophy (flattening of the mucosa). Everyone is different, common symptoms can include stomach and joint pain, tiredness, vomiting or diarrhoea.
What is so difficult about eating out with coeliac disease?
The main issue is cross-contamination. This can happen when very small amounts have been passed on from serving tongs, fingers or cooking utensils such as BBQs and toasters.
Cathy Khouri at Nutrition Care Ltd sees many people who have been diagnosed with Coeliac disease. The appointment time includes a full nutritional assessment and “A to Z“ advice about how to manage coeliac disease with diet.
Cathy has had patients return for further advice because they have been unwell or have had blood results that reflect the condition was poorly controlled. She recalled a careful review of intake for a young woman in a flatting situation. This revealed flatmates used the same dishcloth for wiping down benches before and after gluten containing and gluten free meals were being prepared, that may have been enough to trigger symptoms. Cathyalso remembered a case of an older man who had received positive coeliac blood test results despite his best efforts to totally exclude gluten. After careful questioning and some discussion, it became clear that while he was on holiday, although he had chosen gluten free bread for toast, there would have been cross contamination from the hotel toaster.
Where is gluten found?
· Wheat and all varieties, such as spelt
- Derivatives of these products, such as malt
It is important to seek an accurate diagnosis and consult a qualified and experienced Dietitian. For more information see www.coeliac.org.nz