Writing my blog is a great way of sharing experiences and trying to help people in whatever way I can.
I was recently thinking how daunting it was when I was first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. Although I had a “foodie” background I did struggle with the concept of having to think about everything I was going to eat and drink. I also felt out on a limb before having my appointment with a dietitian. Fingers crossed for people that are newly diagnosed that their wait to see a dietician isn’t too long, as this really is a massive support when you are first diagnosed.
So with all the above in mind it got me thinking that a good way to help those newly diagnosed would be put together a ‘top tips’ blog. It isn’t meant to be text book and please don’t think I’m being a bossy boots, but with a bit of luck there may be a few tips that perhaps you hadn’t thought of. If you know a newly diagnosed coeliac you think it may help, please forward it on!
I can split the gluten-free foods I eat into 3 categories: basic gluten free products I get on prescription, regular supermarket shopping items that are naturally gluten free and finally my free-from aisle special treats.
My prescription products usually consist of a case of Fresh White Loaves, Gluten-Free Mix and a pack of pasta such as Tagliatelle. The Juvela Fresh Bread freezes really well and keeps me stocked up for the month. When ordering fresh bread I make sure I collect it on the day it is delivered, so I can enjoy a loaf fresh on the day and freeze the rest that day, so when I get it out to use it, it will be at its very best (there is an option of a Wednesday or a Friday delivery). I tend to split some of the bread into handy portion sizes, pop in a freezer bags as this is a great way of using valuable freezer space, the smaller portions will fit in little ‘nooks and crannies’!
In addition I have a couple of boxes of Juvela Mix for baking cakes, biscuits, pastry and thickening soups and sauces. Occasionally I make a loaf with it using this recipe or if you fancy having a go, you can use an automatic breadmaker instead.
Supermarket shop. I speak to so many newly diagnosed coeliacs who have spent a fortune on free-from aisle product as understandably, until they get used to the diet, they think that a product must have a ‘free-from’ or ‘gluten-free’ label on to be OK! Yes the free form aisle is great, (I will move on to that shortly) but so many things in your supermarket are naturally gluten free and many of your favourite things you had before being diagnosed will still be suitable, you just need to check the labels and/or check the Coeliac UK Food and Drink Directory. Coeliac UK have launched a new app that can be downloaded to your phone and used as a scanner in the supermarket to check if an item is listed as safe in the Food & Drink Directory. By spending a bit of time working out what you can have you will save money getting the main stream brands rather than buying expensive ‘free-from’ products all the time!
When I was first diagnosed I had a cupboard clear out to make sure all the items on my shelf were gluten-free, the main things to check are things like stock, ready-made sauces, spices, condiments etc. It just makes it so much easier when preparing food that you can just grab what you need from that shelf and know it is safe to use!
Free from aisle. For people that have been diagnosed a while, I’m sure like me you have noticed things have come on leaps and bounds with what “special gluten free treats” you can pick up. Although all large supermarkets have a free from section, if you hadn’t noticed I am a huge fan of M&S. Although pricey I feel the quality is so good that its worth it for the odd item as my weekend treat!
LIZ’S TOP TIPS
– Ensure your Doctor makes an appointment/referral for you to see a Dietitian.
– Whilst waiting for your appointment, it may be an idea to jot down any questions that pop in your head, to make sure you get the most out of the time you have with your Dietitian.
– Join Coeliac UK they will put you in touch with your local group. You will also receive the Food and Drink Directory and regular magazines. If you have a mobile phone give the new app a go!
– Contact gluten free specialist companies to obtain samples. Juvela offer a perfect introduction to their products and the information included within the starter pack is constantly tweaked to ensure all relevant information is at hand as you start your new diet. I always recommend that people make a note of the specialist prescribable products that you enjoy when you are sampling them, because when the branding is not familiar it is easy to forget which ones hit the mark!
– When arranging your prescription work out if it is beneficial to get the yearly Pre-Payment Certificate. In most cases this will help save money.
– Take one meal at a time, before you know it you will be having your menu sorted for the month. You can make naturally gluten-free meals that the whole family can have, such as cottage pies, hot pots, curries, chilli con carne and lots more. I’m sure many of your own favourites can still be enjoyed!
– Take your friends and family along to gluten free events whether that be local meetings, food fairs or roadshows. It is a great way of sharing your experiences at these events first hand and helps them understand better.
– Separate toaster and (if like me you don’t have a toaster make sure the grill pan you use is cleaned and pop a bit of fresh kitchen foil on the rack)
– Ensure you use a separate spoon for stirring gluten containing and non gluten containing foods when you are preparing you meal.
– Separate butter pot (I have one in the fridge at work with a huge
gluten-free label stuck on it!) Try and get the first dip in new butter when you are at friend or family, or avoid as it will probably have an odd few crumbs in there!
– When using condiments ensure to use a clean teaspoon to stop people delving in with knives that may have gluten on them.
– Have a ‘safe shelf’. Try and keep non gluten containing foods away from the gluten containing foods, it is mostly for things like flours, as the outsides of the packets can be rather floury. Also it is good as you can just reach to a particular shelf and know all the foods on that shelf will be “safe” for you!
– Research your local Cafes and Restaurants and check out the ones that are able to cater for a gluten free diet. They will become your favourites and you will always have somewhere to go for that special celebration. I would really recommend that you make a point of thanking establishments when they have been able to cater for you, they will so appreciate it and it will encourage them to continue and develop their facilities for gluten-free dietary requirements.
– Keep a few snacks in your bag, a home cooked cake, banana, biscuits, etc as they will come in when you are out and about and will be perfect with a cuppa!!
Well that’s all from me for now. I’m sure you will have loads of your own top tips if you have been diagnosed a while. Feel free to share them below to help newly diagnosed Coeliacs who will love you for it!
Liz x*The information we’ve provided here is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing. As always, please ensure you thoroughly check any food is definitely gluten free by asking plenty of questions before you decide to try or buy!