Living Gluten Free…

Start living the life you deserve to live. Live your life happy on a gluten free diet

Coeliac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley). When a Coeliac eats gluten their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine.

1 in 100 people in the UK are now diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, and about the same number choose to be on a gluten free diet because it makes them feel better.

Being diagnosed as a Coeliac, or needing to be on the diet for other reasons, can be quite difficult and sometimes frightening. I am an active committee member of the Bournemouth & Poole Coeliac Group and I like to help people on this special diet. If there is anything you are trying to find and can't, let me know and I will see what I can do.

Know what is and what is not gluten free…

This may seem obvious but there is a great deal of uncertainty over some items. Even experienced Coeliacs are not always 100% certain about what ingredients are appropriate and which are not.

Here, are some simple tips for producing great gluten free food at home – and buying online.

Flour is one of them, so here is a simple guide:

‘May contain’ notes on products: One view is that ‘may contain’ is not worth the risk, but I know some people who are happy to take the risk and eat them anyway. 

Barley Malt: Some confusion is caused by labels that list barley malt or barley malt extract but claim to be gluten free. Products CAN be gluten free and contain barley. If it states it is gluten free then the level of barley will be under the acceptable level (20ppm). See this link for more information:

Other Vinegars: Balsamic, cider, sherry, spirit, white wine and red wine vinegar are not made from barley and can also be included in your gluten free diet.

Baking Powder/Bicarbonate of Soda and other Home Baking Ingredients: Some baking powders are not gluten free but there are plenty available that are. 

Oats: The issue is that sometimes oats are produced in the same place as wheat, barley and rye, and then become contaminated with these other grains.

Oats contain avenin, which is a protein similar to gluten. Research has shown that most people with Coeliac disease can tolerate gluten free oats with no problems, but a very small number of people with coeliac disease may still be sensitive to gluten free oat products.

Recipes: It is essential that we all take care when reading recipes. Always check that the ingredients listed are gluten free. Do not assume that the recipe writer has done this for you. Obviously, there are cookbooks that are specifically for Coeliacs and I would be confident that all recipes in these have been checked.

You can also look at your favourite recipe, say for a sponge cake and just replace the gluten containing ingredients (eg wheat flour, baking powder) with a suitable gluten free version. This usually works without adding anything extra.

We are very happy to recommend Jane Devonshire, 2016 Masterchef Winner and Ambassador of Coeliac UK and also Healthy Living James (James Wythe). 

Both have fantastic gluten free, vegetarian and vegan recipes available free online, click on their name links for more information.

They also have new recipe books, please support them.

Coeliac UK: You can find lots of information and support on their Coronavirus Information Hub, including recipes. You do not have to be a member to access this, so do have a look.

Membership of Coeliac UK starts at only £15 a year. This includes their Food Checker App that allows us to scan barcodes of products to check if they are suitable. The information and support they provide is fantastic on both a national and local level. For more information visit the Coeliac UK website

Buying on-line: There are now some great companies selling gluten free products, but Coeliacs can face problems when ordering online. My advice is to always read the product details, but don't be put off and enjoy your home cooking and buying products online.