It's my life, but not as I knew it!

Posts tagged ‘gluten-free’

The True Value of Gluten Free Food

This time last year our home was filled with delicious, gluten-containing foods and ingredients. Fast forward to today and both Biscuit and my hubby, R, are confirmed Coeliacs. In order to prevent cross contamination (see more information from Coeliac UK here), our entire home is now completely, 100% gluten-free.

When Biscuit was first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, we met with her gastro (tummy) doctor. Dr K. told me that Coeliac Disease is unique in the fact that no medication is required and that by simply changing her diet she will be free of her painful and potentially debilitating symptoms, and she will no longer be at increased risk of the complications that can be caused by her eating gluten (see Coeliac UK’s list here). In summary; through absolutely no fault of her own, she must eat a completely gluten-free diet in order to stay healthy. We were lucky, our GP prescribed Biscuit gluten-free food. The prescription doesn’t cover everything (someone of Biscuit’s age gets 11 units a month and someone of R’s age gets 18 units) but it helps. 1 unit does not equal 1 item, see Glutafin’s table indicating how many units for each individual item here
And then came yesterday morning’s news that the NHS Clinical Commissioners chief executive has said that the NHS must reduce spending on prescription items that offer “little or no clinical value” (see BBC News link here). Gluten-free food is being categorised as such and they are talking about potentially banning GPs from prescribing it. Nb: I am talking about gluten-free food for Coeliacs not for those who choose to eat a gluten-free diet (just a friendly reminder at this point that Coeliac is an auto-immune disease, not a lifestyle choice; please read more on my previous post).
I’m sure you can imagine what Biscuit and R’s diagnoses have done to our shopping lists and household expenditure… Well, imagine no longer! I have put together a ‘then and now’ shopping list, including prices. BTW we live in Central London. There are no large supermarkets near us. We rely on small shops and online shopping (but not Asda… they don’t deliver inside the congestion charge zone…).
ITEM
COST BEFORE
VOLUME
COST NOW
VOLUME
Bread
£0.50-0.90
lasts us 1 week
£2.30
lasts us 1-2 days
Pasta
£0.50
500g
£1.13
500g
Pizza
2 for £5
 ready made
£3.29
 ready made
Cereal
£1.50
1 box
£3.25
1 box
Porridge
£1
1kg
£2
450g
Breakfast Biscuits
£1.29
1 box
£1.70
1 box
Brioche Rolls
£1.29
8 rolls
£2
4 rolls
Self raising flour
£1.50
1.25kg
£1.70
1kg
R and I both work full-time. We are, therefore, in a more privileged position than many others who are having to scrimp and save to buy food that doesn’t make them ill, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t had a significant negative impact on us financially.  As happened in our family, you are more likely to have Coeliac Disease if you have a close relative with the condition already. This means people are having to buy gluten-free products for more than one person, even if they don’t do what we did and impose a gluten-free diet on everyone in the house.
I hope this post goes a little way to show true value and importance of gluten-free food on prescription. Gluten-free food may sound like an obvious choice to drop from a prescription list in order to save the NHS money (having worked for the NHS for the last 11 years I promise I do understand how important this is), but gluten-free food is medication to people with Coeliac Disease.  
 
 

Gluten-Free Biscuit

I love Christmas, I love food and I love baking and, although this blog is not primarily about me, these are things I have spent more than an ordinate amount of time thinking about in recent weeks.

The Christmas ads are out; cosy, happy ads showing us all the delicious family foods we could spend our holidays tucking in to. Normally I watch these salivating and planning which foods to buy and which foods I would want to try making. This year I am watching them with different eyes; eyes which are starting to understand the magnitude of someone not being able to eat what most other people can. 

As of October this year, Biscuit was diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease. This was after years of being convinced that she wasn’t absorbing her food properly, months of toileting troubles (leading to embarrassment and a dip in her confidence) and goodness knows how long of discomfort, cramps and tummy pain for my beautiful little red-haired girl. 


For those of you who are not ‘in the know’ about Coeliac, here is my little run-down; Coeliac disease is an auto-immune condition, meaning that the immune system mistakenly see substances inside of gluten (the protein in wheat, barley and rye) as a threat and attacks them. This leads to damage of the villi (finger like projections in the small intestine) which affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food ingested. It is not an allergy or an intolerance. 
When Biscuit eats gluten she gets very constipated, with a bloated and uncomfortable tummy. She also feels very tired a lot. There are lots of symptoms (it’s worth checking out Coeliac U.K. for a list of symptoms) to watch out for, as some of them can seem quite non-specific. That’s why it can sometimes take a long time for a diagnosis to be made. It is important that a diagnosis is made as potential long-term complications of untreated Coeliac disease include osteoporosis, anaemia, vitamin deficiencies and it can lead to certain types of cancer.

The treatment of Coeliac disease is the following of a strict gluten-free diet. This is done with the supervision, support and advice of a dietician. 

So this is where we currently are. We have decontaminated the entire kitchen (cleaned it for top to bottom, sterilised the chopping boards and got a new toaster), got rid of all food containing gluten and refilled the cupboards after visiting all the free-from sections in our local shops. I have spent time with the school inclusion officer (and provided her the Coeliac U.K. school pack) to help the catering company support Biscuit to eat gluten-free school lunches). I have become militant at checking labels! 

It has been a tricky year for us, and I have neglected this blog but we are back and we will be showing you all the gluten-free goodness (and not-so-goodness) we have managed to find during our Coeliac journey. 

Thank you for listening