If there's one mission I have with this blog, it's to prove that being diagnosed with coeliac disease doesn't have to be the end of the world. In fact, for me it has been life-changing in the best of ways. I've managed to take my diagnosis and use my experience to help others, creating this blog and the amazing community of readers around it, all supporting each other.
So in my final post in The Coeliac Series for Coeliac UK Awareness Week, I'm talking about the ways in which you can live a long and happy gluten free life! I've also written posts on the symptoms of coeliac disease and getting tested, as well as tips for newly diagnosed coeliacs, if you want to catch up!
For some, being diagnosed with coeliac disease can be overwhelming, upsetting and frightening. The thought of having to monitor everything you eat, read ever ingredients list and never be able to eat certain foods again can be a big deal. But there can be so many positives too. I've put together this little list, and I hope that every time you feel down about having coeliac disease or being on a gluten free diet, it can bring you some relief - and maybe even out a smile on your face too.
Here are some reasons to stay positive about your coeliac disease diagnosis and living a gluten free life...
People buy cakes just for you
Thought I better start with one of the best things, right? You may think that living a gluten free life means you'll miss out on office cake rounds, but in my experience, I've found it means I get even more cake. People get so excited at the thought they've managed to buy me something I can eat, I often end up with a whole multi-pack to myself. Which is amazing, apart from when everyone buys you coconut macaroons.
You understand what goes into your food
I can bet that many people reading this never used to read ingredients labels before they want gluten free. But when you start reading them, it's seriously shocking. So many foods you wouldn't expect contain gluten. And there are so many ingredients that I'm not even sure what they are, or if I should be eating them. I think it's really important to know what you're eating and it lead me on nicely to my next point...
You generally can eat healthier
Cake rounds aside, I have found I lead a much healthier life on a gluten free diet. I make better choices because I understand more about what goes into my food, but also because many of the cheap, nasty, processed options are filled with gluten. At first I missed things like Pot Noodles - and don't get me wrong, sometimes I still do - but now I am thankful I eat a much better diet all round.
You get way too excited about food
I know, when you're first diagnosed with coeliac disease it can seem daunting - but the plus side is, when a new gluten free food comes out it's the most exciting thing ever! There are a lot of things that are way too exciting on a gluten free diet. I think when M&S brought out gluten free spring rolls the internet pretty much melted. But I love the fact that new products make me fall in love with foods I haven't eaten for a long time, all over again.
You always get to choose the restaurant
Unless your friends and family are just downright mean, they'll always want to go somewhere you can eat too. Which means nine times out of 10, you get to choose the menu. My friends probably hate me because I just choose the same couple of places all the time. But you know what? I don't care! And when I find somewhere new that I can eat, it's lovely to see my friends get excited for me.
You CAN save money
I know, I know, eating gluten free is expensive, right? And yes, it can be. But you can also save money too - look at all the money you would have spent on take-aways you now can't eat. Or ready meals you stocked up on? Plus gluten free bread is ALWAYS in the yellow sticker bin, so make sure you stock up for the freezer. You can also check out some of my money saving tips on a gluten free diet here.
You learn new cooking skills
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease as a child, so was lucky in that it was my mum who had to learn some new cooking skills first off. However, I do credit my gluten free diet for my love of cooking and food. I grew up learning all about food and now I love to create new foods. When you go gluten free it can seem daunting to have to learn new ways to cook food, but it can also completely change your life. Soon your friends will be queuing up for dinner at yours!
There's always an alternative
Missing a certain food? I would argue that 99% of the time, there's a gluten free alternative. Your gluten free diet shouldn't just be limited to what you can find in the free from aisle. For example, missing croissants? Next time you visit London check out Beyond Bread. Missing burgers? Go to an Honest Burger. Missing Wagon Wheels? Either make your own or check out Ananda's Foods, a small business you wouldn't find in Tesco. There are so many small producers, you just have to keep looking.
Any tips for a gluten free diet I've missed?
I'd love to know if you have any other tips to share for remaining positive about being on a gluten free diet! Share them in the comments below to help someone who is struggling!
Want to do some more research on coeliac disease and gluten free living? Perhaps you’re newly diagnosed with coeliac disease, or just looking for some inspiration for a gluten free diet? Check these out…
- The Coeliac Series: The symptoms of coeliac disease and how to get tested
- The Coeliac Series: So you’ve been diagnosed with coeliac disease – what now?
- Six things you might not know about coeliac disease
- My coeliac disease diagnosis story
- What the hell is gluten free wheat starch? And is it safe for coeliacs?
- The coeliac disease vaccine – would you have it?