COELIAC 101, LESSON 1

Four weeks ago, when I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, I thought it was the end of my world. The end to all delicious food which I loved so much (no cakes! no pasta! no bread!) and the start of something much more depressing, frustrating and not to mention embarrassing – “how can I expect people to cook gluten free for me?” I was heard whining.

I have had so many ups and downs in this past month, I’ve dodged a few gluten bullets and had many a melt down over a restaurant menu, but lately I have noticed a change – news flash, I can still eat most of this stuff! – which is why I thought it a good idea to give a rundown of the basics I’ve learned to date.

Lesson 1 – Cheerleaders

All coeliacs need a cheer squad.

Listen up glutards and coeliacs alike, it is impossible to get through weeks 1 -3 without a posse of cheerleaders behind you. The Queen B cheer squad grew and grew in these first few weeks and is still growing as more family, friends and friends of friends of friends find out about my disease. It has blown me away how supportive everyone has been and I most definitely needed it!

We’ll start with my mum, or as I like to think of her, the base and strongest part of the cheer pyramid. Mum took the reins at home, swapping flours, bread crumbs, dips and anything else she could think of for gluten free products. I now have my own basket filled with gluten free snacks in the pantry, ensuring I don’t even have to look at anything with gluten in it and she continues to fill it daily.

Family (also known as the catchers, the people who catch the person flying through the air) have been crucial in the changeover phase. Regular weekly dinners at home and at my boyfriend’s parents’ house are now totally gluten free. This was something I really struggled with, I felt I was being a massive burden and I initially didn’t want to attend because of the inconvenience I felt I caused. I have since been talked around by cheer captain (the boyfie) and my gluten free diet has now been embraced by all, even my 80 something year old Italian grandmother who keeps gluten free cutlets in the freezer for when I visit – I couldn’t appreciate it more.

My friends and aunties, (the cheerleaders jumping around making lots of noise, shouting give me a Q, give me a U, give me an E… well you get the picture) provide me with tonnes of tips and I receive so many good gluten free product and shopping recommendations from this great group of cheerleaders each week. Most of these cheerleaders aren’t coeliacs or gluten intolerant, just super supportive!

Some of these cheerleaders encourage me by eating gluten free themselves and go so out of their way to help me. One was seen running around the Rottnest pub (on Rotto swim day, their busiest day of the year), hunting down a chef who could tell me which menu items were gluten free – she was on a mission!

And that brings me to you guys, the people who have read this blog, commented, emailed, encouraged and spread the word! Your support has been fantastic and you have given me so many more gluten free options to explore. I look forward to continuing this gluten free journey with you!

Lesson two coming soon… stay tuned!

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