The symptoms of a gluten intolerance can be vaired. Schär experts offer their tips on living a life without gluten.
What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance
Gastroenterologist Professor David Sanders, sees the impact of coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity every day.
“Symptoms like bloating, vomiting and fatigue can be associated with gluten-related disorders which are managed by following a gluten free diet," says Professor Sanders. "Whilst there has been a fourfold increase in the rate of diagnosed cases of coeliac disease in the UK over the past two decades, approximately three quarters of people with the condition (half a million people in the UK) remain undiagnosed.
"As awareness, education and diagnosis continue to improve, it is imperative that people who need to follow a gluten free diet have access to a broad range of gluten free foods to cater for their needs.”
Going gluten free
“If you think you’re suffering from poor health as a result of eating gluten, always speak to your GP about your symptoms and request a blood test for coeliac disease before removing gluten from your diet," says Schär dietitian Katie Kennedy. "Cutting gluten before being tested will provide a false negative result.
If your coeliac tests are negative, gluten may still be the cause of your symptoms – you may be suffering from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, an increasingly recognised medical condition with similar symptoms to coeliac disease.”
Katie's tips for a gluten free diet
- There’s no reason why a gluten free diet can’t be healthy and well balanced. Eat regular meals based on gluten free starchy foods (including potatoes, rice, gluten free breads and pasta), include a range of low fat protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and pulses, and of course aim to eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg daily
- If nutritional science isn’t your strong point, consider asking your GP to refer you to a registered dietitian, or search for a dietitian privately who will be able to support your quest to go gluten free
- The right advice and support will help to ensure you are able to stick to your new gluten free regime. Consider joining Coeliac UK, the national charity for people with coeliac disease. You could also join the Schär Club, for free. Schär offer a wealth of useful information, recipes and healthy living tips to support those following a gluten free diet
- Research shows that people following a gluten free diet may eat less of some key nutrients, such as calcium and fibre: Calcium - Sustain your calcium intake with semi/skimmed milk, low fat yoghurts and cheese, fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruit, tinned fish (with bones!), and green leafy veg. Fibre - Fibre is needed to maintain healthy gut function. Make sure you include high fibre/seeded gluten free breads and pastas and
- Experiment with adapting recipes and trying new foods. Following a gluten free diet is likely to significantly alter your usual meal and snack choices. Visit Schar.co.uk for gluten free recipes, a 7 day meal plan, expert advice and ideas to liven up meals
- Read labels carefully. The presence of gluten-containing cereals (wheat, rye, oats and barley) must now be clearly labelled on food products no matter how small the amount used. Allergens, including gluten-containing cereals, will always be highlighted within the ingredients list
- Enjoy eating out, but plan ahead. A lot of restaurants and bars offer gluten free menu options but it’s worth calling ahead to ask what’s available. Check out Schär’s GlutenFreeRoads app for a list of gluten free venues worldwide, searchable by postcode or geographic area
- Be prepared. If you spend a lot of time away from home it’s worth keeping some suitable stand-by gluten free snacks in your handbag, rucksack, car or desk drawer