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Coeliac Disease (Guest Post)

With Wriggly’s birth on Monday, I have to say things have slowed down a lot around here in the past few days. I have been taking it easy and enjoying my four gorgeous children and hubby. I have found a new hobby in sniffing Wriggly’s head. She quite simply smells heavenly!

The guest post below was written by Devon blogger Vicki, otherwise known as the Free From Fairy. On her blog, she shares her mouth-watering ‘free from’ recipes and has just started filming her own easy to follow video recipes. She also offers advice and support to individuals with food allergies, intolerances or coeliac disease. If you did not know about Vicki, go over to her blog; it is wonderful!

The Free From Fairy

I first found Mel when she wrote eloquently about little Jumpy’s first allergic reaction.  It happened to coincide with me writing about the day our daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease just before her third birthday… and so a bond was formed.  Two personal experiences that changed ours and our children’s worlds forever!

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease that is thought to affect 1 in 100 people in the UK.  According to Coeliac UK however, only 10 -12% of those with the disease have been diagnosed so far.

The only treatment for the disease is a strict, life-long gluten-free diet.  Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye and therefore lurks in many of our staple foods (and drinks…think beer!).  Not only that but trace amounts of these grains can make a person with coeliac disease very ill.

When my daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease it wasn’t really a shock.  I had been intolerant to wheat for many years and I continually questioned the doctors about my daughter’s diarrhoea, tummy aches, weakness and lethargy having done lots of internet research.

I had been told for a year, however, that she was just suffering with toddler diarrhoea.  It was only because of my persistence that she was finally diagnosed.  She had classic symptoms but still the simple blood test had not been carried out…even by the consultants.

Before being diagnosed with coeliac disease, she had allergies to dairy and eggs.  Hospital was a familiar place to us and I was already a dab hand at creating and adapting recipes to meet her dietary needs!

It was, however, the social side that was the most difficult to adapt to…and still is!  As a young toddler it was tricky for us to attend mother and toddler groups; any contact she had with dairy, even from toys that other babies had put in their mouths, would cause an immediate red and angry rash.  If we went to such groups I would forever be removing toys from her and constantly watching that she wasn’t putting food into her mouth.

Then, when she was diagnosed with coeliac disease it became even more of a problem.  Everything in her life now involves lots of preparation; we cannot just grab lunch out…we always need a packed lunch; my bag is always stuffed with snacks and treats in case where we are visiting doesn’t have any gluten-free options; I have to phone restaurants and cafes and quiz them about how they produce their gluten-free food; party invites come home and I know that I have more work to do to ensure that she has lovely party food that she can take with her; school cookery sessions are a headache.  I am sure you can appreciate…the list goes on!

Many establishments now offer gluten-free options making it easier to eat out.  However, they do not always understand about cross-contamination.  A recent example is when we visited a burger restaurant and were told (when quizzed) that the chips that were marked as being gluten-free were actually fried in the same fryer as the gluten containing products.  This small amount of gluten is enough to make people with coeliac disease ill…and we cannot take any chances when it is not our health we are playing with; rather that of a small child who depends on us to protect her.

On the whole our daughter deals with her disease really positively, generally accepting that there are lots of things that she cannot have.  I do my best to ensure that she doesn’t miss out by creating lots of delicious gluten-free & dairy-free food that we all enjoy together.

However, eating outside the house is a different story.  When recently faced with a jacket potato at her Grandad’s birthday meal, while everyone else was eating chips, her strength crumbled.  Tears slowly tumbled down her cheeks and into her food…

I just hope that these challenges will make her stronger in the long run.

I share my recipes along with information, advice and reviews on my website, The Free From Fairy.  If you know of anybody who has restrictions to their diet then please consider telling them about me!  The more people I can help the happier I am!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com


  1. 15/06/2014 / 8:28 pm

    Hi Mel! Thanks for publishing my post. I hope it raises more awareness of coeliac disease amongst those who don’t know what it is. Take care of your lovely family x

    • Mel
      15/06/2014 / 9:55 pm

      Me too! Whenever someone I know mentions several of the symptoms you have described on your post or in your blog, I now tell them to look into coeliac disease. I am glad we ‘met’ through our blogs. x

  2. It must be so difficult for small children to understand why they have to be different to all of their friends. I would find it difficult as an adult so it must be really hard on kids. My heart goes out to those that suffer and I think that blogs like yours that offer advice, recipes and support are wonderful 🙂 #sharewithme

    • Mel
      18/06/2014 / 11:22 am

      Thanks Denise. Check our Vicki’s blog, it is great and the recipes would appeal to anyone, really, not just those on an exclusion diet.

  3. 18/06/2014 / 1:43 pm

    Fantastic guest blog. Really enjoyed it and always great to get tips, advice and know others that have to worry about allergies as I do. I will definitely check out her blog. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

    • Mel
      18/06/2014 / 2:27 pm

      I am sure you will find lots of new recipes for Bubba on Vicki’s blog. x

    • 21/06/2014 / 9:03 pm

      Hi Jenny! Thank you for reading the post. I hope you find something of interest on my blog!

  4. 18/06/2014 / 1:48 pm

    Great post Vicki! Coeliacs and food allergies/intolerance is often so misunderstood. Lovely to see a well rounded view 🙂

    • Mel
      18/06/2014 / 2:29 pm

      The two of you are real ‘free from’ gurus! So glad I have ‘met’ you. x

      • 18/06/2014 / 5:23 pm

        What a lovely thing to say! Really glad too xx

    • 21/06/2014 / 9:04 pm

      Ah, thank you Mummy Tries! It can be tough at times but it is great to ‘know’ people like you!

  5. 18/06/2014 / 10:43 pm

    Ah it sounds like such hard work and really heartbreaking when it affects a child in this way. I think everyone who has to deal with these issues does a fabulous job – you really become experts in all things nutrition which is a great life skill. X #sharewithme

    • Mel
      18/06/2014 / 10:57 pm

      Thanks Sam. Vicki is absolutely brilliant at what she does!

  6. 19/06/2014 / 12:32 am

    Really interesting, especially the points about cross contamination, something I would never have even considered.


    • Mel
      19/06/2014 / 12:56 am

      Me neither, before I found out about my little one’s allergies. I would never have thought that handling flour or nuts and then touching my baby could make her react.

  7. 19/06/2014 / 1:33 am

    I really do feel very lucky that my children don’t have any allergies or intolerances. This is a great post for raising awareness of something that is more than an intolerance, but often thought to be one x #brilliantblogposts

    • Mel
      19/06/2014 / 10:07 am

      Thanks Sara. Vicki is quite simply wonderful and I really admire everything she does to make sure her daughter always feels included when it comes to food. x

    • 21/06/2014 / 9:06 pm

      Sara, thank you for your comment…lots of people think that it is just us being ‘fussy’ so I do what I can to explain what it is and to hopefully ease her way as she grows up!

  8. 19/06/2014 / 5:50 am

    Hi Mel, thanks for posting this from Vicki – I love both of your blogs! Vicki it must be hard for your daughter but it sounds like she is so positive. My mum has coeliacs and every now and again she breaks too and gets fed up with it all. You are so supportive though, your daughter is very lucky xx

    • Mel
      19/06/2014 / 9:45 am

      That is such a lovely comment, Kiran! I will tell Vicki to check it. It is not always easy when you have children on an exclusion diet…

    • 21/06/2014 / 9:08 pm

      That really is a very lovely comment…brought tears to my eyes! I am very lucky to have such a brilliant little girl who takes it all in her stride.

  9. ~Merlinda~ (@pixiedusk)
    20/06/2014 / 6:43 am

    I love how you are so keen on really knowing whats wrong with your daughter. That you never gave up in spite of what they said that is wrong. And you found out what is really wrong. I hope that your food journey will be successful inside the house and outside too =) #sharewithme

    • Mel
      20/06/2014 / 2:28 pm

      Vicki certainly is a determined mummy! She is abolutely amazing: check her blog, Merlinda. You will love it!

    • 21/06/2014 / 9:09 pm

      Thanks very much Merlinda (and Mel!). I have plans for outside the house which are currently just dreams…but hey, you have to dream!

      • Mel
        21/06/2014 / 10:38 pm

        Definitely! Your dream could just be a long-term project. You are doing such a great job, there is no doubt you will end up doing exactly what you want to! x

  10. 24/06/2014 / 10:33 am

    Wow relate to this guest post with a 4 year old with allergies, breaks your heart when they are sad but it will make them stronger eventually. Such an informative post. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

    • Mel
      24/06/2014 / 10:45 am

      If you haven’t checked out Vicki’s blog, have a look. She has great recipes, a lot of which you can probably use for Oliver! x

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