It is estimated that celiac disease affects more than 30,000 people in Scotland. Here’s what it’s like to live with the disease and tips for eating gluten-free.
Celiac disease, according to the NHS, is a disease in which your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten.
As a result, it damages your intestine (small intestine), which prevents you from absorbing nutrients.
Celiac disease can cause a range of symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating.
These unfavorable conditions are caused by foods containing wheat, barley and rye such as bread, pasta, cakes and breakfast cereals.
As a result, those with the condition turn to a gluten-free diet to avoid discomfort.
However, living with this condition can be extremely difficult for many people and can cause them to have a bad relationship with restaurants.
Living with celiac disease
Speaking to bartender and co-owner of the Krakatoa bar, Craig Adams (51), he talks about his experience living with celiac disease.
Craig said: ‘I found out I had celiac disease in 2012 but I probably had it since the mid 90s and didn’t realize it.
“My symptoms have slowly gotten worse, but they come on so imperceptibly that you only notice them when you look back.
“I had one particular rash that persisted for 20 years and suddenly cleared up when I removed gluten from my diet.”
Craig has found that the availability of gluten-free options is better now than it was before, but says eating out has its challenges.
He said: “The biggest problem is that you don’t take yourself seriously everywhere. Some places are really good and you can trust them, and they will even remember you for next time.
“There are other places that aren’t entirely honest about what’s going on with the food, so that’s the biggest problem.
“I think people think you’re going to have mild symptoms, not that you’re going to be out of action for three days.”
Tips for eating gluten-free
Craig has found that local restaurants are more suited to his dietary needs than chain restaurants.
He said: ‘I dine out two or three times a week and I don’t feel uncomfortable saying it, but I find local places that are family run tend to care a lot more.
“Some places offer to edit a menu item and that helps a lot.
“I’m going to try a new place to see how it goes, and if there are any problems, I won’t be going back. There are between six and twelve places where I feel confident.
Although Craig misses eating foods like pizza and naan bread, he says his choice to switch to a gluten-free lifestyle has benefited him immensely.
“You see a dramatic improvement in your life after two or three months without gluten, and it makes you feel like you’re totally back to normal,” he explained.
Craig advises that it’s best to get diagnosed as early as possible and try to avoid gluten altogether if you have any adverse symptoms.
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[Let’s talk about coeliac disease and tips for gluten-free food]