There have been countless occasions over the last ten years when having Coeliac Disease has been a real pain in butt. Now, considering one of the most common side effects of having this autoimmune disease is diarrhoea, for once I'm not talking about the toilet-related type of pain in the butt. I'm talking about those occasions where I've been embarrassed, or felt like an inconvenience about not being able to eat Gluten. When on our honeymoon in Mexico I had to survive a ten hour flight on four side salads and a packet of peanuts, all because the airline misplaced my gluten free meal request. Oh, and the countless times out to dinner where your poor excuse for a 'gluten-free substitute' is placed in front of you, and your fellow diners look on you with pity as you tuck into a sliced tomato with olive oil whilst they devour something far more satisfying. Sometimes being gluten-free sucks.
Somedays you'll be super impressed and chuffed to bits when you stumble upon a gluten free cereal that doesn't taste like bit of broken cork. Then other times you want to cry as you're shown a restaurant menu that it whittled down to dry salad and a cut up apple because everything else is contaminated with gluten in some way or other. Needless to say, I've got used to this way of living. Having to constantly plan ahead to ensure you'll eat throughout the day and always being prepared to 'miss out' in some way when someone offers you a yummy looking cake or biscuit with your tea. Some people have a lot worse to contend with everyday so I know I shouldn't complain, but for the sake of this post, I'm going to have a little moan on this occasion.
Last week was Coeliac Awareness week and it was great to see so many charities, brands and celebs getting on board to spread the word about the disease. Caroline Quentin, Coeliac.org's patron for the charity and sufferer of the disease, even went to extreme lengths to show the impact gluten has on us Coeliac's by jumping off the gluten free wagon and reverting to a diet, that within minutes of starting makes her sick (watch the video here). But the purpose behind her experiment was to demonstrate the severity of this disease. All too often this disease can be mistaken for a crazy fad diet and if it is left untreated can cause some serious implications to the body and even cancer.
In light of this pledge, one of my favourite gluten free brands, Genius Gluten Free, did some research of their own in support of Coeliac UK Awareness Week and the results were really quite surprising. It's not only food brands and restaurants that need to brush up on their dietary requirements, but more crucially it's our family and friends that need a little guidance...
- Over 10 million Brits now have a specific dietary requirement (Wowzers)
- But 39% don't even know how to cook for a vegetarian and over 80% wouldn't know where to start when catering for someone with a gluten intolerance (Crikey)
- 20% of those living with a dietary requirement have been excluded from a social occasion (how lovely)
- 13% of Brits deliberately exclude guests from an event because of their dietary requirements. Of those lucky enough to receive an invitation, over a third have been forced to go without food during the event because their culinary needs hadn't been catered for (Brilliant)
Coeliac Disease is hereditary, which is why I'm probably giving the whole acceptance of the disease a lot more thought. There is a high chance Our Little Bean is going to inherit Coeliac Disease (some kids get estates, titles and stamp collections, our's will receive a gut that will lay down the law in terms of it's toilet habits for the rest of it's life...some kids get all the luck!) But the idea that someday, he or she might not get invited to a birthday party or a play date because it can't eat normal bread and biscuits, just doesn't seem quite fair.
So if you know of someone who suffers with an allergy, intolerance or dietary requirement, don't leave them out. Make them feel as normal as possible. Thankfully I've been lucky enough to have family and friends that have always gone that extra mile to cater for me on every occasion. When you already feel like a burden, it's so reassuring to know that someone else has thought of your needs and cared enough to do a little research and spend a little time to make you feel welcome. A little thought and education goes a long way in the world of dietary requirements, and we need all the support and recognition we can muster to ensure that our children and their children aren't excluded or made to feel like an outsider for the sake of their health.
Do you know anyone with Coeliac Disease? Have you struggled to cater for them? Let me know more in the comments below...!
With Love & Gluten Free Acceptance
Until next time,
This is a collaborative post. Press Release statistics supplied by Genius Gluten Free Foods. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.