Mel was diagnosed with coeliac disease unexpectedly as an adult. Read about her gluten free journey and tips for staying positive.
When did you get diagnosed with coeliac disease?
I was diagnosed in 2011, right before I was due to head to Australia for a year of travelling.
How did you feel about the diagnosis?
Confused, I had never heard of coeliac disease nor gluten so it was all very new to me and I couldn’t quite get my head around now having to stop eating foods I thought were basic, everyday necessities. I.e. bread, pasta, cereal.
What was your relationship with food like before you were diagnosed with coeliac disease?
I loved food, especially warm baguettes and croissants – and always thought the pain and discomfort I felt was just my body and that’s how I was always going to feel when I ate.
I was always experimenting with new recipes and foods through travel and curiosity.
Have you ever felt like you have missed out because of coeliac disease?
Yes, for sure. When I was diagnosed I couldn’t get my head around it, so I continued to eat whatever I wanted regardless of the outcome. As I have now been on a strict diet for over 3 years, I have seen the free from ranges grow at a rapid rate which helps me feel less like I’m missing out.
Dining out used to be that I could only opt for the salad option, so that of course made me feel like I was missing out. It made me not want to eat out as I never was able to really eat what I would have wanted - especially then having a large price tag next to something I was just eating for the sake of eating.
I still feel like I miss out – in B&B’s, Eurostar or the likes offering breakfast and not catering for those with coeliac disease.
Watching family and friends enjoy the foods I miss is also a challenge but it has become the norm for me now, so it gets easier every day.
Did you notice a difference in mood and health after sticking to your gluten free diet?
100% I feel different – not the urgency to use the bathroom, the immediate tiredness, or the pain of being so bloated.
My moods I wouldn’t say have changed that much, maybe if I feel utterly disappointed I cannot eat something I really wanted but overall I wouldn’t say so.
What does eating “well” mean to you?
Eating well to me means I am having a balanced meal – protein with veggies and I try to limit carbs in the evenings.
As I’m getting older and feeling better from my gluten free diet, I have taken up the gym to aid my health which also sets the mind set for eating health. I’m also back to experimenting with cooking, which I showcase on my Instagram channel (@a_wheat_off_my_mind).
What’s your favourite Juvela product and what do you make with it?
This is an easy one – the Juvlea Part-Baked White Rolls – they can go with anything, but I absolutely love them with a good old English breakfast (grilled of course) beans, eggs, bacon and sausage. I would love to start having Juvela on prescription as their breads are certainly one of the best on the market, the Part-Baked White Rolls being the ultimate fav!
And finally, what’s your top tip for staying positive?
Experiment with new foods and use social media to explore others' experiences to find great safe restaurants and recipes. :)