Lucy was diagnosed with coeliac disease in November 2021...
Eleanor's Story of being diagnosed with coeliac disease In 2009 at 14 years old.
When did you get diagnosed with coeliac disease?
In 2009 when I was 14 years old.
How did you feel about the diagnosis?
Depressed and alone - I didn't know anyone else with the condition. As I didn't have the classic symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, etc, I didn't know for how long I'd been suffering with coeliac disease and was very worried that I'd caused lots of damage to my body. I was also concerned about what food I could and couldn't eat and how to stick to the diet.
What was your relationship with food like before you were diagnosed with coeliac disease?
I had a good relationship with food. I feel it contained a good mix of a large variety of different food groups though it was mainly vegetarian.
Have you ever felt like you have missed out because of coeliac disease?
I feel I have missed out greatly. For example, I didn't go to friends' birthday parties, and sleepovers as food would play a large part e.g. cakes, takeaway pizzas, etc, and I wouldn't be able to join in and didn't want to feel 'different'. I missed out on joining social clubs as, for example, the first meeting of a new one starting in the area when I was a teenager was a barbecue, and I didn't want to go and not be able to eat anything whilst everyone else was eating. I would not want to go to family get-togethers and weddings as, again, I didn't want to be treated differently and for people to have to go out of their way to cater for me.
Added to this, I would not go out to eat because, even if a few places catered for the diet, there would be a very limited choice, and I would also be concerned about cross-contamination.
What does eating "well" mean to you?
Eating a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables. Also, I think it best to eat different things as much as possible rather than the same things all the time.
What's your favourite Juvela product and what do you make with it?
My favourite product is the Fresh White Loaf. I like to toast it then make a mashed chickpea filling made with a tin of chickpeas, mayonnaise, finely diced red pepper and onion, sweetcorn and a pinch of salt and pepper.
What advice would you give to your younger self or to a newly diagnosed coeliac about what you now know about coeliac disease and gluten-free foods?
I would say that the choice of food available and the quality of it are continually improving. Also, the number of places to eat out safely does increase over time.
And finally, what's your top tip for staying positive?
It's very easy to feel down about having to change your entire diet. Even after all these years, I still feel sad sometimes, but that's okay and completely normal! However, to stay positive, I always think of how much damage could have been caused to my body if I hadn't been diagnosed. You only get one body, and it's important to look after it. I've also gained so many cooking and baking skills that I don't think I would've got if I hadn't been diagnosed. Social media, especially Instagram, is fab too. There's such a great community on there with so much support for each other. It's also a great place to find new safe places to eat out and when new products are in the supermarkets.