Living life the Coeliac way…

I did not know what it actually meant to have Coeliac Disease when I was first diagnosed, like a lot of people I thought that Gluten meant that I couldn’t eat bread, pasta, cake, etc – things that simply didn’t have wheat…basically I did not know to what extent that would mean. It’s not as simple as cutting out bread. I was oblivious to the point that I ordered Chinese food the first night I was diagnosed… Gluten though is in pretty much everything. From bread to ice-cream. It included a lot of my favourite foods, my staples, snacks, etc. It meant that the majority of things I ate I had to check and make sure they didn’t have gluten. I thought it also meant – no chocolate. No chocolate – how would I cope in life without chocolate? How would I be going to a birthday party and not being able to eat the birthday cake? How would I be not being able to order take-away as readily? There were so many questions that I was now asking about my diet and also the possibilities of other illness/disease/problems… I had a list that quite possibly could have stretched across the land of America and back and I wouldn’t have known where to start. I packed up my worries and went to the doctor – she said forget the list and focus on the diet.

However, the diet had to begin on the Easter weekend 2011… I was going to my Grandparent’s farm with my Mum which normally I love, but this diet and things being closed – it was a weekend where I was as irritable as anything because I was hungry… so hungry I was snapping pencils in half the dining room… so hungry that I ended up having a one way argument with Mum – just because I needed to release my anger…before storming out of the house and sitting in the car for 20 mins…it was another one of my not so fine moments… most people who know me well would be glad to have not been there.

After a weekend of avoiding hot-cross-buns and anything that tasted good… I survived. Back in Melbourne… it was time to go shopping… Because this diet was still very new to me I was sticking with things that I were guaranteed gluten-free, so either fruit and vege or that had a label on it which clearly stated it had no gluten…

I couldn’t really live like this forever so I got the 4 ingredients GF version…tried out a few more recipes and thought that for a while I could keep it simple but having more variety…

I then started teaching rounds… and had to stay at a friend’s house because the school was too far from where I lived – but this was almost impossible because I sill didn’t know what I could eat for dinner. I prepared a whole bunch of things, took a bunch of GF marked food and took a whole bag full of food for the two weeks that I’d be staying there and thought this would be ok…um no. Instead on my second day of teaching rounds I came back to their house where I was expecting a roast for dinner and got a trip to the hospital… about five days later and no appendix on Mother’s Day I was out of hospital and off to Mum’s work where I walked in clutching my stomach (cos the docs told me to hold on to it) – I laughed because my mother is a mid-wife – and I was hobbling into to her to work place…holding my stomach, after already been scrutinised as to whether I was pregnant or not. Last year was soon known as the: lets see how many times I can be asked if I’m pregnant or not??? The answer is still: NO!

I went to stay with Mum for some TLC and came out deciding that I needed a new school…

For months I didn’t have one…but eventually was ok with that because it meant that I was finally able to have the time to sort out what this diet meant. I joined the Coeliac society, went to a few of their meetings…including the label reading one – which was GREAT because it meant that I learnt that in Australia – wheat, barely, etc was in bold and I found out that glucose and dextrose even if it came from wheat didn’t have gluten… I felt a new way of living was about to begin… and bought a new cookbook – so perfectly named the Gluten-Free bible, a bible for eating gluten-free eating! whoot…

The super-market finally didn’t feel like the most daunting place to go and my diet finally saw some variety. I got a new school which did mean having to do a 7 week block but also meant that it forced me to learn what it was like to be incredibly organised with food. I made, polenta marmalade cake plus a huge array of other gf baked goods and snacks, salads, curries, rice-paper rolls, gf pasta bakes, other gf pasta dishes, meat and vege, stir-fry, etc, etc, etc… I even started eating take-away food again and tried new restaurants that I never would have tried otherwise…

My food was ALL new, not just Gluten-Free, but fresh, organic, natural and most importantly full of variety… my family were still calling me and asking me how my diet was going but seriously it didn’t matter…

then Summer school rolled around and I got slack… and was also getting bored again… plus I had been to a friend’s wedding where my dessert was a plate of fruit and I left feeling hungry…I’m really grateful to them though to making sure I could actually eat and it’s not actually anyone’s fault…that, that was what was on offer…  I think though that not having a proper routine meant that I could just survive with things I had in the house and my job has me eating at other people’s houses which meant that I didn’t need to take my lunch where I went. I also discovered that uni (especially during summer) was the worst place to find gluten-free food!

Beginning the uni year I bought myself a new cookbook – called Indulge by Rowie Dillon – giving a fresh take to Gluten-Free food and it even has a whole entire section on GF flours and the science behind it…I now have a whole new range of flours…an am learning a whole new way of eating. Because the start of the year I felt almost as though I had to begin again, it was tough and hard and I think it finally sunk in what it meant.

I then received an email today which talked about the Coeliac Awareness Week in March! Which meant that I’m now supporting a cause that directly affects me – that’s usually not how it goes because I’m so used donating money or participating in an event that has to do with causes which I believe in but doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with me – except of course my interests.

Everyone!! I mean, everyone!!! Needs to be more aware of Coeliac Disease, what it means for people who live with it and also what it means when you have to cater for them in any capacity whether it be a uni/school cafeteria/tuckshop/cafe/etc, at a restaurant, at someone’s house, a party, a wedding…you name it.

Also people who are coeliacs or any food intolerance or allergy needs to realise that you’re diet doesn’t have to be restricting if you are open-minded and organised. But try to relax and still have those moments where you don’t do the cooking!

Lesson of the day:

We are all becoming more aware of what people have or are going through and it’s amazing to know there are people there to support you! 🙂

Signing off… I hope you all enjoyed your dinner!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. melita
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 11:31:46

    I really enjoyed this entry em. was pretty inspiring to read actually. and your right, the world needs to be more thoughtful about catering for people who cant eat certain foods. you definately are a trooper!!!!! 🙂


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