My Celiac Awareness Post


May is for Celiac Awareness.

In the UK Celiac is spelled Coeliac, same in Australia and New Zealand. In the UK they have Celiac Awareness week, rather then the full month they do in the US. Its in May, so for me, May is for Celiac.

Celiac Awareness is not really needed on a blog like mine, because to me, Celiac Awareness is about reaching those who are NOT here on this blog. Those mums endlessly walking their screaming (undiagnosed children), those dads who scratch their elbows with a knife because their (undiagnosed) DH is itching so bad. The women who have been trying for years to become pregnant. Those who struggle daily with stomach issues and put it down to IBS or stress (yeah… could be undiagnosed celiac).

Of course, not all people with stress tummy or an itch or whathave you have undiagnosed Celiac disease. But the numbers speak for themselves, in Europe something like 1 in 100 (slightly less or more in some countries) have Celiac, in The US numbers used to be 1 in 133, thats now thought to be incorrect and latest figures show similar to European figures. And how many are diagnosed? Hardly any. Estimates say that somewhere around 97% of Celiacs in the US today could be undiagnosed. In Europe they talk about numbers around 80% (varies from country to country).

So that pretty much means most of us know at least 1 undiagnosed Celiac. Maybe they have classic and visible symptoms, or maybe they are walking around with nothing other then slight anaemia or feeling a bit depressed. Thats the thing with Celiac. You can have diarrhoea or be constipated, you can gain weight or loose weight, you can have aching bones or depression. There are 300 symptoms to date associated with Celiac disease, and a sufferer can suffer only one symptom, or 50!

The people who need to know all this are not Celiacs, the people that need to know all this are people who may never have heard of Celiac!

Then the other part of Celiac awareness, the one that explains to the world that Celiac is an autoimmune disease, not a fad. Not an allergy.  The one that explains what gluten actually is. A protein, found in wheat, rye and barley and all products thereof. The one that talks about cross contamination, and explains that one breadcrumb is enough to hurt someone with Celiac disease. The one that explains that although we may not suffer anaphylaxis, there is long term damage to our systems every time we are exposed to gluten, and a Celiac who keeps being exposed to gluten can suffer other life threatening diseases such as cancer.

Eating just a little bit of gluten, is not an option. Some may not react to ‘just a little’, but the long term damage on the inside still occurs.

I am asking you all a favour today. Help us spread this awareness. Help us – the Celiac community – to spread this awareness as far as we can. Please share this post, or one of the many other Celiac awareness articles out there. If you see it on twitter or Facebook, like it, tweet it, share it. Help take the awareness further.

I also have a challenge for the bloggers out there, the non gluten free bloggers. Please, if you can find the time, write a post about Celiac for Celiac Awareness Month. YOU can reach exactly the person who needs to read it. I already gave this challenge to my small expat bloggers Europe group, and two lovely ladies accepted the challenge. I will be sharing their posts next week, along with yours if you accept 🙂

MAY! Is for celiac Awareness. May is when my own little Celiac was born. How oddly appropriate 🙂


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Mixing with the gluten kids – No problem!

We have been gluten free for over 2 and a half years now, the house, pretty much as long. We have ALOT of play dates and people over at our house, why? Because its easier. Here Celiac kid can play without supervision (gluten supervision), here, she can put toys in her mouth and touch whatever she wants, and there will be no issue what so ever (as long as people wash their hands as they arrive). I find that mostly, kids are extremely accepting of gluten free. I never tell anyone that the food they are about to eat is gluten free, why would I? You wouldn’t hear the host of a dinner part serving up pasta and saying ‘THIS is pasta made with GLUTEN’ (unless they had intolerant people there). Kids who visit my house generally eat what I serve, often ask for more and never even realise they are eating gluten free. Adults at times will be more hesitant, they take a bite of something and analyse it, like its a wine tasting! Then they look up and utter with surprise ‘its good!’. Like what, they expected us to eat disgusting food? It should be said here that I buy very few ready made gluten free things, I make all food from scratch and we eat a generally healthy diet with only a few processed things thrown in. But still, Im surprised that so many adults seem to think we live on some kind of starvation diet. If I had a dirham or zloty for each time someone asked me ‘but what do you eat??’ Id be very very rich by now. Its simple really. We eat exactly the same as anyone else, only our food is generally healthier (because I read every label and scrutinise it like a scientist), mostly organic, and always gluten free. We eat pasta, pizza, bread, hot dogs, you name it, we eat it. Except maybe liver. We aren’t to keen on liver. Like I said, kids don’t seem to care, they eat and move on.

We had one mum in our school who point blank refused to let her kids eat gluten free. My sons lovely teacher had asked me to bake for the class for their Christmas party so that his sibling would be able to take part in the open day same as the other siblings and mums and dads – the previous party I had ended up holding her standing by the door as there was a gazillion kids running around with cupcakes (poison) in their hands. I was so touched to be asked, what a kind gesture. So of course I went all out. My friend Katinka helped me bake brownies and cupcakes and biscuits and soft cake. The only mum who knew I was baking gluten free was the class rep at the time. She was obviously not happy as she was the one who usually baked. She sent gluten cupcakes for her kids, I overheard her saying at drop off ‘my kids wont be eating any of that stuff’ (meaning gluten free stuff). Talk about judgemental! At the actual party everyone ate, parents, teachers, siblings, kids, not a single person noticed they were eating gluten free! One mum said the brownies were the best she’d ever had!

Im guessing if we had made some kind of announcement about everything being gluten free the reaction would have been different. Kids however, are so awesome. To them, cake is cake, no matter which flour you use! If they ever ask, I explain, and all the kids that come to our house know I make awesome pizza and snacks. I only wish adults were as open minded!


brownies clip art

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Our life revolves around food.

It really does. Not always in a bad way, and don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t stop or hinder us in any way, its just how we THINK thats different. Take this move for instance. Most families I know would just eat takeout for the last couple of days, get a pizza on arrival in the new house and have breakfast out or get something ready made until plates etc were all unpacked. For us, its all about the food every step of the way. Making sure I have enough things unpacked to still bake bread, that I have all the saucepans I need for cooking. Then that the airline we fly has ok gluten free meals, that we bring enough food in our hand luggage, that we know where the nearest shop is on arrival so we can buy cleaning products and food and start the process of de – glutening the kitchen. Our life revolves around food, and the kitchen, but the planning and thinking becomes second nature, so its no different then say a cold person making sure they wear thick socks. This is just how it is!

On another note I have seen some awesome pink and blue pots I like, but Im wondering if pink saucepans will be just a bit to much…? Im normally a stainless steel kindof girl, but these look awesome! What do you think?



Wash your hands!! (Please!)

I have a gluten free home. And its REALLY gluten free. Every soap, every beauty product, every cleaning product and obviously all the food has been checked. It is 100% gluten free. But keeping it that way is not an easy task. When people arrive it can be hard to find a way to politely tell them to wash their hands without offending. Of course old friends know and go and wash as soon as they arrive, but I always struggle telling new people. Even worse, when they arrive with kids and one of them has a biscuit in their hand! I thought about this a lot lately, especially now that I’m moving to a new country and everyone I meet will be a potential new friend. I don’t want to offend anyone the first thing I do! So, I came up with a brilliant idea (if I can say so myself), SIGNS! Of course signs will do the trick, you know the kind, Home sweet home somewhere in the hall way, only, mine will look a little different! What do you think? I will have to work on the Polish version, and get some nice white frames.



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Why we made our house gluten free.

8324104_origOriginally posted on Gluten Free UAE in October 2012

I often get asked about why our whole house is gluten free, are we all Celiacs? If not then why aren’t the rest of you eating gluten? Well, let me explain how I see it…

Our Celiac is 3 years old. Still a young child. A young child who doesn’t yet fully understand the ins and outs of cross contamination. But thats not the main reason we have made our house gluten free. We made our house gluten free because we want our child to feel normal. Because she is! She’s just a normal kid, she likes pink, she likes to dance, she likes to play football with her brother and she loves squinkies! She’s only different from most 3 year old girls when it comes to food. And she is only different when we are out.
Why? Because we, her family, have decided that this diagnosis is not hers, its ours. We are a Celiac family and this is how it has to be.

I personally believe that every Celiac has the right to feel safe in their own home. If there is gluten in your house, no matter how many systems are in place, you always run the risk of contamination.

Cooking, in a mixed house where both gluten foods and gluten free foods share a space is extremely stressful, or at least it was for me. Watch a pot of pasta boiling. Did you know water can jump out of the pot and jump in to the pot next to it? Never mind the spoon confusion, gluten free to the right, gluten to the left, gluten free to the right, gluten to the left…. then the phone rings, the doorbell goes, the dog barks, older child spills a juice and which spoon was it again???

For a Celiac, less then a bread crumb (or a very tiny bread crumb) is enough to cause a reaction. For my older (non Celiac) child this took the enjoyment out of eating his chocolate cupcake, I was a nervous wreck, right there with my tissues, waiting to clean any crumbs, ‘lean over the plate, careful, careful…. don’t touch anything, come, now wash’. I was on edge, worried, and most meals I had tears in my eyes when she asked for something she couldn’t have.

We lasted like this less than 2 weeks. The decision to make our home a safe home for our girl, was the best I ever made. Now we all eat chocolate cupcakes together and the crumbs can go wherever (although my cleaning nerve does twitch a little), we all eat the same food, and everyone is able to open any cupboard and eat anything they want. It is all gluten free, all safe.

From the work I now do with Gluten Free UAE, it seems to me that those who have a mixed house (gluten and gluten free foods sharing a space), have a much more limited diet with less variety. Why buy variety if its just for one person anyway, its a waste if it goes off?

In the beginning our food costs were sky high off course, they over doubled once we all went gluten free, now, a year and a half later, they are back to almost the same as they were when we were gluten eaters, and I must tell you, we are all, much much healthier.

If you are still mixing products in your home and finding it a challenge, try making your house 100% gluten free for a while – it may just work for you too – if not, you can always change back 🙂


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Breakfast changes and making the whole house gluten free.


Originally posted on Gluten Free UAE in March 2012

One of the most challenging meals in our family after diagnosis was breakfast and snack times. Bread had always been a big thing in our house. As Northern Europeans we eat a ton of open sandwiches, not just for breakfast, but often also for lunch and as snacks throughout the day. It only took us about a week from diagnosis to ban gluten from our house entirely. A piece of bread now represented something dangerous, with crumbs that could almost jump across a table and ‘attack’ the little Celiac. Breadcrumbs DO jump a lot when bread is eaten by a 4 year old sibling, so banning gluten from our house was the right thing to do.

Personally I believe all Celiacs (gluten intolerants, or people with wheat allergy) need to have a ‘safe place’. A haven, somewhere where they can just BE, and not worry about contamination.
Off course, the perfect place to be this safe place, is your home. Managing the kitchen and dining area is also a lot less stressfull if there is no gluten around at all. No separate cloths or equipment. We dumped all the wooden untensils and got new chopping boards. The Teflon pans went too (to a good cause), I can honestly say, hand on my heart, that there is no gluten to be found in my kitchen (apart from one tiny area, but we will get to that another day).

When other Celiacs visit my home they can touch anything they want and lick their hands after (although I hope they dont!). They can open any cupboard or the fridge and everything they see is safe to eat. The soaps are all gluten free, as is my floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner and kitchen cleaner. Some people would argue that its not necessary to go that far, I argue that why buy a cleaning product with gluten when ones without are just as easy to buy? Do you really want to wipe your gluten free kitchen down with a cleaning product containing gluten? With small kids anything can happen, and I mean anything. While an adult wouldn’t lick the sink or suck on the corner of a sofa cushion, to a child, this is just a natural part of exploring their environment.

So Breakfast, what did we do at first? We bought bread, we made bread, we tried all the bread mixes, and we pretty much dismissed all of it. It wasn’t nice, it didn’t taste ‘ right’, it wasn’t gluten. Because in the beginning, thats the taste you look for, weather you realise it or not, so anything that doesn’t taste like gluten just doesn’t cut it. Someone told me it takes time, and that eventually our tastebuds would change, we would forget the gluten taste and everything would taste better.

We used Gluten Free cereal, we gave up on bread and used corn crisp bread and rice cakes.
A Sandwich in our now house means rice cake with topping. We also took all the pre set expectations of what a certain meal is meant to be and threw them out. If the kids want soup for breakfast or snack time, let them, have some yourself too! Who says you cant have soup in the morning anyway? There is no rule anywhere as far as I am aware. Let the kids have those gluten free crisps in the afternoon if they hate every single gluten free cracker you try. Its not the end of the world (as long as its not every afternoon for months on end).

Almost a year down the road it turns out the person who told me our taste buds would change, she was right. We are now going back to products we tried at the start, and they aren’t so bad. I am baking cakes and bread and it tastes good. Different yes, but not bad. 4-5 months ago I had a moment and I don’t know what happened, but I bought a subway sandwich when I was out, I only had 2-3 bites because frankly, THAT tasted bad. Gluten wasn’t all what I remembered it to be, and no, I don’t miss it. If you still do, then find alternatives that suit your life and lifestyle. Don’t go without, go with something else.


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