what a helpful website

I hope you don't mind me posting this.

I am so pleased to have found this website. Reading this website has made me feel quite lucky compared to others. After a few weeks of symptoms in late autumn last year, following tests which were inconclusive, my GP advised me to avoid gluten in my diet and considered that I was likely to be gluten intolerant rather than coeliac. I am 60 years old and looking back I had symptoms from my early 20s. As I got older these symptoms became more regular and in November I felt awful and could not shake them off like I had in the past by not eating bread or anything with flour and over- the- counter remedies. Besides I had developed new symptoms since the spring like stomach cramps and other digestive problems which are probably familiar to most readers. Over the last few years I had virtually cut bread out of my diet but not flour. I still don’t know why I had non-stop symptoms last year – it is a mystery to me but it prompted me to look at what made me feel ill. I have read that stress can exacerbate this condition and I have had a lot of stress in the last 10 years.

So I have tried to be gluten free since the second week of December. I cannot tell you how much better I feel. Earlier last year after suffering from all sorts of aches and pains I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have always been physically active and despite this diagnosis I continued cycling and swimming every day. But guess what - those symptoms have disappeared since I stopped eating gluten. I have more energy and more agile and supple like I used to be. I was beginning to think that the aches and pains were all part of the ageing process so now these ailments have disappeared it is such a relief to me as it has improved my quality of life. I can now pick up things off the floor without groaning, walk without aching and run up the stairs again!

During the last few weeks I have been hungry for information about my condition so have pored over different sites to chase up articles and advice, particularly about what I can eat. Some of the USA sites provide very good general information about gluten intolerance but as the food advice is obviously related to USA standards I get confused. One of the things that really confuses me is what is gluten free. I never seem to get a straight answer. For example, five weeks into a gluten free diet I have suddenly found I cannot now eat bacon. Some sites say it is okay to eat bacon others say it is not. The same thing has happened to me with cheddar cheese. I think I am intolerant to this now. Information from some of the sites suggests once gluten is excluded from your diet you may discover other intolerances which may not be gluten related. It is difficult to know whether these products have gluten in or I am actually intolerant to something else.

In many ways being gluten free has not changed my diet too much as most of the stuff our family eat is made from fresh vegetables, fruit and meat from our local butcher (I don’t eat much fish). But we have found managing the hidden gluten a problem and a bit overwhelmed about searching for the offending ingredients, particularly as some products are not labelled eg the bacon and cheese we purchased came in unlabelled packets. Also none of us in our family like the gluten free pasta, flour or bread and other products. We have tried several brands. The bread is not a problem because the others eat ordinary stuff and I have got so used to not eating it anyway. We don’t eat biscuits and cakes except on special occasions but look forward to experimenting with new recipes. Thank you for the info on Gluten Free for Dummies book – will try and get that asap. It is exactly that sort of information that is so helpful on this site. Plus the different experiences and answers to questions have been reassuring, informative and put my little problems in perspective! I was finding it difficult to access information and the format of the website has to a greater extent solved this problem as most of the information I need is in one place, or I am re-directed to the right place. So many of my questions which I thought were trivial or silly have been answered. Thank you!

11 Replies

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  • Hello Urbangirl,

    Just wanted to write to say hello and to tell you how much I agree with your sentiments. I have only been gluten-free since the end of October and, like you, have been delighted to discover this site.

    It has been an invaluable support as I get to grips with my new lifestyle, and it makes such a difference to know that others have been, or are going, through the same experience.

    I do hope you continue to go from strength to strength. It's so wonderful to have a new lease of life, isn't it?!

  • Thank you for this welcome coeliacvegan. It is good to know that others understand. Sometimes I think my friends and family think I am being a bit fussy and neurotic over food. Knowing some of the science behind gluten helps me to explain things. Although I am still overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have got to learn! I spent 3 hours on this site the other day! But there is such a lot of helpful information I just couldn't stop reading. I really appreciate the work people have done and share with others.

  • Hi Urbangirl, firstly forums are for asking questions so good for you and you're amongst friends on here with one thing in common in that we have to avoid gluten for one reason or another.

    Now I've read this with interest and find the comment about cheese and bacon interesting as bacon and some matured cheese use nitrates and some people are allergic to nitrates so here's a link that may interest you:

    livestrong.com/article/2457...

    So a gluten free diet means avoiding foods made with wheat barley and rye and to some oats and these have to labelled in the ingredients.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glute...

    My advice is to take it one step and one day at a time and soon you'll have it sussed. And I'm glad that you've got off to such a good start to your diet, so any more questions then you just ask away and well done for introducing your self and don't be afraid to post a picture and your location.

  • Jerry thank you very much for you reply. I looked at the site about nitrates which was interesting and helpful. Makes you realise just what dodgy things can go in food. However, I can eat parmesan cheese (listed on the site) without a problem. But maybe I will react to this in the future.

    With regard to packaging - we have bought things that are not labelled and I think that is a lesson to be learnt, as it is to read them properly before use. I made some polenta bread stuff the other day as I read that it is gluten free and followed a recipe from a gluten free cookbook. My husband had bought the polenta. I had a couple of slices and an hour later felt ill. Could not understand it. Checked the packaging on the powdered polenta and yes traces of gluten in the polenta.

    I am going out in a couple of weeks to a party thing where everybody brings a contribution. Not sure what I will do there. Probably try and eat before I go out. It will be very difficult to locate the owners of the dishes to see if gluten is involved in the cooking!

    I am enjoying reading the information here. Thank you!

  • Hi Urbangirl. Good luck getting used to the whole gluten free thing. It does take a while but becomes second nature before long. It helps lots to persuade all your family to read labels too, extra pairs of eyes really help to spot things that sometimes we might miss.

    When I go out to visit friends I usually take a gluten free dish with me for everyone to share - something like a chilli, or a rice or quinoa salad which are all naturally gluten free. I also take a plate of homemade food similar to that you think will be served or available. For me i found it really comforting not to stand out too much by eating very different food. I also try to make it look and taste really nice so that if anything, people want to eat my food. Elliciting that reaction makes 'missing out' on some foods much easier to tolerate.

  • Hi again Urbangirl, as for the buffet you could eat before you go or you could take your own mini buffet in a lunch box so you're not standing around like a lemon.

    So you could use this to take your diet one step further by looking at what you can eat rather than what you have to avoid. So here's a few ideas, you could make a large quiche made with a base of mashed potato rather than pastry and make it the day before so the next day it slices just like ordinary quiche and take it ready sliced and keep some for you separate to avoid cross contamination. You could make some mini quiches in ramekin dishes by simply frying some cubes of potato and then adding them to a quiche mix and then baking them. But it's just as easy to make one large one and take that ready sliced.

    Onion bhajis (pakora's) are gluten free if made traditionally as they are onions in a spiced batter made with gram flour (chickpea flour) and easy to make.

    And as well as taking fresh washed salad take mini fruit salads in custard again in individual ramekin dishes.

    The secret is to sort yours out first so that it stays gluten free.

    And then when others look enviously at your plate you can say ''I'm on a special diet'' LOL

  • Urban Girl. Welcome to the site. You've now got a one big hurdle out of the way re labelling. I think the thing that every Coeliac learns from experience is to read every label thoroughly (even if it's a product you've bought for some time which has been fine). :-)

    If you're after some ideas for food then take a look at our Pinterest board which has various meal/links - set out according to the type of meal, e.g. breakfast, entertaining, quick lunches etc. Various gluten free foods, mainstream and freefrom. Hope you find it useful as you find your way round managing a Coeliac lifestyle. pinterest.com/gfguerrillas/

  • Every site I look at say bacon and cheddar cheese are both gluten free. Is this correct please? Thanks.

  • Hi Fee333, yes bacon and cheese are gf unless gluten is added, this is about being allergic to the nitrates and nitrites used in the curing.

    You have to be careful with some cheeses like Blue stilton (the blue mould is grown on bread) and ready grated cheddar cheese often has flour to stop it sticking so you have to check the labels as it should label this on the packaging.

  • Cheers for that Jerry. Glad I don't have to miss out on bacon!!

  • Katethebake and Jerry, thank you both for your helpful suggestions - yum yum! Now I don't think I will stand out as a lemon, nor will I go hungry at this do. I am going to start experimenting with cooking. Thank you both for your time it is much appreciated.

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