Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gluten Free Anniversary

We have a few anniversaries to honour in December, first Toby moved here in December from Hong Kong 6 years ago and its also been 2 years of blogging at this address. Although I blogged for years at aprevious site. It also marks my first anniversary of being gluten free. I did go on and off a gluten free diet a few times last year but got my final coeliac biopsy results and committed to being gluten free in Dec last year.

I thought it might be helpful for those who have recently found out they are coeliac or gluten intolerant to talk about my experience. I was miserable when I got my first blood test results, friends and family tried to be supportive by saying focus on what you can eat, how lucky you are to know what was causing issues etc. In the beginning I couldn't be 100% positive about it, I was grieving all those foods I could never eat again like crumpets, amazing sourdough bread, and so much more. I'm happy to report that was a phase and I didn't stay being grumpy about it. It's so much easier now that I have a routine at home, recipes all sorted, friends who make amazing gluten free dishes and know half a dozen restaurants where I frequent. However, I do on rare occasions get cravings and miss the convenience of take away sandwiches but being gluten free just means being a bit more organised about meals.

I've strict about the gluten free diet. I've been glutened a couple of times this year with sometimes small amounts of gluten and its not pretty, my stomach bloats so much that I look pregnant,  I have horrible sharp pain on one side (generally left) and other bowel related issues that I'm sure you don't want to hear about on a food blog. It generally takes me about 24-48 hours of feeling horrible and up to a week til I feel back to normal. The longer I'm gluten free the worse the symptoms seem to get. Thankfully it has only happened a few times. I know some people cheat because they don't have many symptoms but its so not worth the possible long term health issues such as bowel cancer. I also find it easier, because I start to forget how amazing gluteny crumpets, pastry, bread etc can be. So don't do it guys!

I'm definitely felt healthier this year, not just stomach and bowel related but also with less colds and other viruses and my body seems to be able to fight viruses and infections better. I've also had more energy. My body is finally been able to absorb vitamins and minerals properly but with that have also come a small amount of weight gain. Although that might be a coincidence or my age as many people report weight loss after going gluten free.

I found the process of going gluten free so much easier thanks to a couple of coeliac friends who talked me through it, talked to me about good brands, answered so many questions about ingredients and just  agreed that it can be bit shit sometimes. So I'm more than happy to answer any gluten free/coeliac questions, not from a nutrition standpoint of course but in terms of the above. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

Here is some advice which I found useful in the beginning and which people often get confused about:
  • There is wheat in regular soy sauce.
  • Spelt products are NOT gluten free.
  • Most buckwheat noodles contain regular wheat.
  • Most fresh rice noodles contain wheat, but dried varieties are generally fine.
  • Barley is part of the gluten family, everyone forgets about this one.
  • There is barley in some brands of soy milk and some miso paste.
  • Products can contain wheat and still be labelled gluten free as it depends on the way the wheat is processed. So the gluten free label overrides everything else.
  • In Australia, caramel and glucose syrup derived from wheat are gluten free as no gluten remains after processing it. Does this apply in other countries too?
  • Basically the only alcohol you need to avoid is beer, ale, lager, stout and Guinness. Although spirits may be derived from wheat, rye or barley they are distilled in such a way that there is generally no gluten remaining in the final products.
  • If any ingredient in a product is derived from wheat, rye, barley or oats, then this must be declared on the label in Australia. 
  • Watch out for for wheat in some corn starch and icing sugar varities.
  • Check out Coeliac Australia website for more details: 


  1. it took me a long time to realize those things, too. i get really frustrated when i see recipes labeled "gluten-free" have spelt flour in them. i've never heard for gluten being processed so much that no gluten remains. i am diligent about reading ingredient labels, so if i saw ANY gluten ingredient, i just wouldn't eat it. better to be safe then sorry.

    congrats on your anniversary! i'm glad you feel so much healthier now :)

  2. good to hear you are finding it easier to be gf now - it sounds like a challenge - having gf sister and niece has made me think about what I have in my kitchen and how I cook for the family - one thing that I found useful was that malt often is from barley which means gluten which I never would have guessed before I had to be careful. I enjoy seeing ideas for GF vegan food on your blog.

  3. I've been very interested to read your Coeliac diagnosis ordeal, and so glad that you have found so many aspects of your health have improved.

    I am currently going through my own Coeliac ordeal, and trying to find a good gastroenterologist. Would you be prepared to let me know who your specialist is?

  4. Thank you for this very helpful post. I too remember being very upset and confused when I got my blood test results. After my endoscopy the doctor said I was a 'textbook case', so why didn't the GPs pick it up in all the years (over 10) that I complained of my symptoms? There needs to be more information. I think that the standard blood test drs all seem to do for iron, vitamins etc when someone complains of general symptoms could easily include a coeliac test, seeings as so many people are not diagnosed. Enough of my ranting - your post focused on the positives of working out what to eat. I love your blog for all the gluten free vegan info - so important to get the information out there!