Coeliac disease, gluten free, diets and health

Last year when I lived in Brighton I found out I had coeliac disease – this is an auto-immune condition in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food and, in short, it can be the painful and horrible.

[NB: different from a gluten sensitivity/intolerance which is allergy based.]

It’s made life difficult for a bread, pasta and pizza guzzler like myself.

Frankly, at times, it made me so terrified to tackle foods, in fear I might get glutened (as named by colleague who’s daughter also suffers from this), that my diet and health suffered over Christmas and New Year when I returned home.

This was because I’d walk into a cafe or shop and go: “Do you do gluten free?” and I’d either get a look or confusion, ‘sorry we don’t’ or led to the smallest collection of gluten free food you can imagine.

gf collage
Some of the amazing GF I have made and sampled in turn of finding places to stock up at!

[Not to say there isn’t a few cafe’s and such that do do gluten free that have swiftly become my besties!]

But when I travelled back to Brighton in January for a week I was horrified to realise that people where going gluten free to shed the pounds – rather than for actual  health reasons.

I was mortified when I went into a bagel shop to be asked: “Do I need to use a different chopping board for this or not?” I was confused, as I thought this was a given to avoid cross-contamination,but he explained: “Well, do you have coeliac disease or is it a health kick? In that case I could use the same chopping board, you see.”

This annoyed me for several reasons but the main two are: 1, peoples misconception of why many people with coeliac disease lose weight and 2, why would you chose to eat bread that tastes like cardboard and 3, ok with paying 3x more for it!

SO I’ve decided to take on a few gluten free diet misconceptions for those thinking of taking it on to shed pounds.

  1. It’s great for weight-loss:
    1. When giving up gluten it tends to mean you cut out a lot of carbs like bread, cake, biscuits, pizza and pasta (all the nice things) and, initially, this does shed a few pounds, but if you substitute your want for them with things higher in fats you can put more weight on.
    2. Rather than cutting out gluten thinking it’s the answer it may just be better to enlist a healthier diet higher in fruit, veg and lean protein.
      In fact, some gluten substitutes, such as potato starch, actually contain more calories than wheat, rye or barley.
  2. Gluten is only in bread:
    1. IT’s not! My poor dad learnt this one. Simply cutting out bread is not going GF, it’s going bread free. Gluten is a protein, it’s found it wheat, barley and rye. That means no ‘normal’ cake, pizza or even beer.
  3. It’s a not a major lifestyle change:
    1. It is, to truly go GF all products containing gluten must be eliminated from your diet you must not cook GF products and non-GF products together and there is no having a cheat day with GF. Say goodbye to all your fave fast-food establishments.
  4. There’s no risks in it for healthy people:
    1. Wrong, in fact I take vitamins because when you eliminate certain grains you can reduce your overall intake of certain nutrients, such as: B vitamins, iron and calcium. Though for me it’s over all the healthier option to go GF.
    2. Some GF alternative grains are lower in fibre than their counterparts. Not only can this lead to constipation, but fibre helps suppress your appetite, so consuming too little can actually interfere with successful weight loss.
    3. Eliminating gluten can mess with your intestine’s natural bacteria balance, which can lead to a variety of digestive disturbances.
  5. You don’t need to consult the doc:
    1. Not necessarily true, most doctors and dieticians don’t recommend a gluten-free diet unless you suffer from a gluten intolerance or coeliac disease (both of which are two very different things.)

So that’s a few things I’ve come up with and had a bit of help from and Coeliac UK.

I did this because it bugs me that people take on a GF lifestyle simply as some fad diet. It’s not a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle change and if you want to lose weight you’ve still got to eat healthily (for you) and exercise.

I lost 1st and 5lbs since November, going GF was the initial reasons, but running a mile (nearly) every day was the reason it stays off.

Caio for now,


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