Sick of hearing more about what you can’t eat than what you can?

If you or a loved one has Coeliac Disease, a NAPHL Accredited Practising Dietitian says the diagnosis shouldn’t be about what you’re missing, but rather what you should be substituting. Marcus Connor says a Dietitian can help you keep up your nutrition by understanding the importance of finding substitutes to those foods that are no longer on your menu.   

“Firstly, and most importantly, Dietitians tell you what you can eat, in a time of uncertainty when everyone else is telling you what not to eat,” Marcus says.

“We will help you understand what Coeliac Disease is, how to identify foods you can eat and ensure that you are still meeting all of your nutrient requirements to stay healthy or continue growing. Finally, a dietitian can help you understand other considerations like food preparation or cross contamination.”

Coeliac disease occurs when the body has an immune response to a protein called Gluten that is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. This immune response causes inflammation in the small intestines. This often reversable inflammation can lead to reduced absorption of nutrients into our bodies and a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms.

“The symptoms of coeliac disease can vary from person to person and can present in varying degrees of severity,” Marcus explains. “Some of these symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation, blood in stool, fatigue, nausea, weight-loss, weight gain, loss of appetite or malnutrition. All these symptoms can also be related to other illnesses or diseases making it extremely important not to self-diagnose and instead seek professional advice from a doctor.”

Marcus’ top tips for living with Coeliac Disease:

Beware cross contamination – Be aware of the risks of cross contamination in food preparation. For example, have separate toasters for gluten free and gluten containing foods.

Keep up the grains - It’s still important to eat enough grains (the gluten free types) as these foods are high in fibre and other important nutrients. Non gluten containing grains include quinoa, rice, buckwheat and more.

Eat out smartly - Eating out with friends and family is still possible! You just need to be smart about the decisions you are making around food and being aware of where/how the food is being prepared.

Don’t skip dairy – Often people who are newly diagnosed will react to dairy, but this is generally only temporary. Dairy or dairy alternatives is an important food group in our diets and it’s important to ensure you are getting enough. So I recommend you retest dairy once your symptoms subside.