Gluten Free Helly
In 2011 I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. At the time of my diagnosis my hair was getting thinner, my nails were brittle and my face became very spotty. I started getting itchy, dry patches of skin, my gums were bleeding when I cleaned my teeth and my scalp was covered in tidy blisters. My joints also ached and I had extreme fatigue.
Within a couple of weeks of going on a gluten free diet the swelling in my tummy had reduced, my joints stopped aching and my tiredness was less. It did however, take a couple of years for me to build my muscle and strength back up. I used a mixture of yoga and weight training to aid my recovery and it wasn’t long before I was able to enjoy life again.
During the time of my healing I decided to study Nutritional Therapy which gave me the knowledge I needed to help me recover. I am now more aware of the foods that I need and when I need them, which enables me to nourish my body accordingly.
I have been cooking family meals for over 20 years but some of my fondest memories are being in the kitchen with my grandmothers, helping them to bake and prepare dinner.
My interest in cooking really began to evolve when my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I was determined to keep her healthy and ensure she didn’t feel like she was missing out.
Since then, I have helped my youngest child when she was a baby with a milk intolerance, myself with coeliac disease and friends and family with different dietary needs.
I am also Brand Ambassador for Spice Kitchen UK and love using their spices.
For meal ideas and information visit the ‘Blog’ page or visit my Gluten Free Helly social media pages.
What is Coeliac disease?
It is a digestive condition where the small intestine becomes inflamed and unable to absorb nutrients. It can cause a range of symptoms including diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating.
Coeliac disease is caused by an adverse reaction to gluten, a dietary protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?
These can range from mild to severe, and often come and go. Mild cases may not cause any noticeable symptoms, and the condition is often only detected during testing for another condition. Treatment is recommended even when symptoms are mild or non-existent, because complications can still occur.
Diarrhoea is the most common symptom of coeliac disease. It’s caused by the body not being able to fully absorb nutrients and causes malabsorption.
Common gut-related symptoms include:
- bloating, abdominal pain and flatulence
- vomiting (usually found in children)
More general symptoms may include:
- fatigue (extreme tiredness), which may be a sign of iron deficiency or vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia
- an itchy skin rash
- difficulty getting pregnant
- tingling and numbness in your hands and feet
- disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech
- swelling of the hands, feet, arms and legs caused by a build-up of fluid
What causes coeliac disease?
It is an autoimmune condition, where the immune system mistakes healthy cells and substances for harmful ones and produces antibodies against them (antibodies usually fight off bacteria and viruses).
In the case of coeliac disease, your immune system mistakes one of the substances that makes up gluten, called gliadin, as a threat to the body. The antibodies that are produced cause the surface of your intestine to become inflamed (red and swollen).
The surface of the intestine is usually covered with millions of tiny tube-shaped growths called villi. Villi increase the surface area of your gut and help it to digest food more effectively.
However, in coeliac disease, the damage and inflammation to the lining of the gut flattens the villi, reducing their ability to help with digestion.
As a result, your intestine isn’t able to digest the nutrients from your food, which causes the symptoms of coeliac disease.
How do you treat coeliac disease?
It is usually treated by simply excluding foods that contain gluten from your diet.
This prevents damage to the lining of your intestines (gut) and the associated symptoms, such as diarrhoea and stomach pain.
If you have coeliac disease, you must give up all sources of gluten for life. Your symptoms will return if you eat foods containing gluten, and it will cause long-term damage to your health.
This may sound daunting, but your GP can give you help and advice about ways to manage your diet. Your symptoms should improve considerably within weeks of starting a gluten-free diet. However, it may take up to two years for your digestive system to heal completely.
Your GP will offer you an annual review during which your height and weight will be measured and your symptoms reviewed. They’ll also ask you about your diet and assess whether you need any further help or specialist nutritional advice.