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!
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!