Gluten-Free Awareness Week

Last updated on 13th May 2011 07:27am

With many people in the UK suffering from coeliac disease, which can only be treated with a strict diet eliminating all gluten, The Nutrition Guide is supporting Gluten-Free Awareness Week, which starts on Monday. Why not give gluten the heave-ho for a week and gain a bit of understanding about the difficulties facing those who live with the disease?

 

Another positive result you may enjoy is the possible health reward that can be achieved by cutting out this hard to digest protein. Many people have undiagnosed coeliac disease, as well as intolerances to gluten and wheat, and it is often mistaken for IBS, so you never know – you might experience a reduction in bloating, more energy and easy digestion!   

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. These grains are used in bread, pasta, pizza, cakes, biscuits, beer etc. Unfortunately they also pop up in a wide range of products including mayonnaise, soy sauce, sauces, sausages and many processed goods, so make sure you read the label.

The low-down from Coeliac UK:

Coeliac UK, the national charity for people with coeliac disease, is asking the nation to take part in the Gluten-free Challenge by doing something gluten-free during the week 16 – 22 May 2011. The Challenge aims to raise awareness of the daily frustrations encountered by the 1 in 100 people in the UK who have coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten for which there is no cure or medication; the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life. If left untreated, coeliac disease can lead to infertility, osteoporosis and bowel cancer. On average it takes 13 years to get diagnosed with many people being initially misdiagnosed with IBS.

What can you do?

  • sign up to the Challenge and pledge your support at http://coeliac.org.uk/glutenfreepledge
  • get your work to go gluten-free for lunches or the buy gluten-free biscuits for the office
  • invite friends to take part in ‘Come Dine Gluten-free’, taking it in turns to shop for gluten-free ingredients and cook gluten-free meals throughout the week
  • go out for dinner with friends and all order gluten-free options to highlight to eating establishments the demand for gluten-free food
  • schools could hold a gluten-free cake stall or cook a gluten-free recipe in food technology classes
  • talk to your local restaurant and ask them to provide gluten-free options on their menu
  • when out shopping, check the back of packets to see how many items include gluten and choose the gluten-free options
  • get sponsored and go gluten-free for the whole week.

Further information about the Challenge can be found on Coeliac UK’s website:

http://www.coeliac.org.uk/glutenfreechallenge which includes recipes and cooking tips, information on gluten-free products and what to look out for when shopping.

* Removing gluten from the diet for people who do not have coeliac disease is not harmful.

By Claire Harper, The Nutrition Guide

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