10 of the Hardest Things About Being a Coeliac: how to beat them!

10th May 2021
Blog post

This guide contains the 10 biggest challenges my lovely coeliac followers have said they face. I’ll do my very best to help you through them all!

Lets make you this chilled about coeliac life…

(*Ok, I’m not that chilled, I’m attempting to balance on Segway… but lets pretend haha)

Where did this idea come from?

I was sat in my kitchen thinking about what I could write next to help my lovely coeliac followers. I started making a mental checklist of all the “challenges we face” and thinking which one could I write about.

But then I thought, ITS COELIAC AWARENESS WEEK 2021.let’s not tackle just the one challenge, lets do them all!!!

Hopefully this will help in two ways: (1) if there’s bits of life as a coeliac that you find challenging, I might be able to offer some help or (2) there’s things I want to tell the world about and raise awareness of coeliac disease and all the things that come with it, so we feel less alien!

shinealightoncoeliac hashtag on Twitter

The 10 Biggest Challenges Coeliacs Face

Here’s the 10 biggest challenges supplied by my followers.

Every single one was mentioned multiple times so if any of these challenges apply to you, know you are not alone!

  1. Getting used to a new life once you’ve been diagnosed
  2. Meals cooked by someone else – restaurants/other peoples houses/takeaways/grab and go on high street
  3. Keeping the cost down
  4. What to do when you’re glutened
  5. Dealing with other peoples horrible comments (or even just explaining it to everyone)
  6. Finding replacements for our old favourites
  7. The time it takes to shop – reading labels etc
  8. Dealing with cross contamination (especially with non-gf kids in the house)
  9. Getting enough fibre
  10. Finding gluten free & vegan food

Let’s Tackle the Challenges!

Each day I’m going to tackle 1 or 2 of the challenges above so watch this space. Today is number 1’s turn…

(1) Getting used to a new life once you’ve been diagnosed: “Where do I start?”

It can be hard to face that feeling of being “different” and knowing its for the rest of your life. For me, my coeliac diagnosis was a bit of a relief because it explained lots of things that I knew didn’t feel right but at the same time I hadn’t ever heard of coeliac disease, didn’t really know what gluten was and I was terrified. (My story is here if you’d like a read)

I get tons of DMs from people who have just been diagnosed and ask “WHERE DO I START?”. Here’s what I say:

  • (1) It is so so hard at first but the good news is that you very quickly adjust!!
  • (2) Follow lots of coeliacs on Instagram – for product ideas, recipes and just to feel a bit more normal!
  • (3) Sign up to Coeliac UK
  • (4) Read this18 Tips for New Coeliacs: My Practical Guide
tips for coeliacs help challenges hardest thing

(2) Meals cooked by someone else (takeaways, at someone’s house, etc)

This one can be really hard!! Here’s 3 blog posts to tackle some of the trickiest bits:

I’m writing a new guide: Tips for ordering a gluten free takeaway! If you’ve got any bits to add to this one, please shout

(3) Glutening: Helping to avoid it and what to do when it happens

Here’s a few things that might help you avoid being glutened:

And here’s a few things I do when I have been glutened: 10 tips for bloating

(4) Keeping the cost down

Here’s a general guide with all sorts from prescription food to getting the cost of your bread down: 18 tips to make your shop cheaper

My TOP TIP for keeping the cost down is always to get out of the free from aisle. Here’s some guides that might help you do that!

(5) Dealing with other people!

This could be: 1) simply explaining it to people or 2) dealing with people who just don’t understand and make silly comments like “don’t be a fussy, a little bit of gluten won’t hurt”.

The first thing to remember is there probably was a time when you didn’t know what coeliac disease was too so don’t be frustrated/fed up/etc when they’ve never heard of it before. So hard, I know!!

Keep the explanation simple but explain the severity. I usually go with something like “it means I can’t even have a crumb of gluten. If I do, my body attacks itself and causes damage to my stomach which makes me really sick immediately but also causes long term complications”.

Second thing, if you’ve encountered one of those horrible people who make rude comments, I tend to try and explain what coeliac disease is once and then if they do it again, just let it go! It’s not worth your energy. I think: “they’re just lucky they don’t understand”. Again, so hard to do but sometimes there’s just no changing people!!!!!

(6) Finding replacements for our old favourites

I’m in the process of improving this guide but in the meantime, have a cheeky scroll through: “Replacements for our favourite foods”

(7) The time it takes to shop

Reading labels, hunting down normal aisle finds, googling things as you walk around… frustrating isnt it!! Hopefully these will help:

(8) Dealing with cross contamination

Its a challenge – especially if you’ve got non-gf children in the house! Here’s a couple of bits my followers have recommended to help:

*guide* in progress – watch this space!!**

(9) Getting enough fibre

This one will always shock me – the NHS recommend about 30g of fibre a day and I’m usually on about 10g. I have to reaaally try to get that number up… partly because I eat a low carb diet to help my tummy stay healthy and partly because gluten free foods are notorious for being lower fibre.

Here’s a few of my secret gf, high fibre products that I really love:

  • Eat Trek Millionaire Bars – 7g/bar
  • Promise Bread – 15.8g/two slices of White Loaf
  • Perkier Bars – +Immune Super Bars Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate 6.3g
  • Genius White Wraps – 6g/wrap
  • Spoonful of chia/flaxseed added to smoothies/porridge
  • My fave fruit and veg options: broccoli, aubergine, raspberries, blackberries and avocado!

(10) Finding gluten free & vegan food

Now this is where I need you! What are your fave gluten free, vegan finds? Send me a DM on Instagram and I’ll add it here 😉

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