Tag Archives: health

Coeliac Awareness Week 2014

12 May

This week is Coeliac Awareness week, an event which run annually by Coeliac UK to help raise awareness of Coeliac Disease.  As many of you know I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in 2011, and I now spend much of my time spreading the word and trying to help fellow coeliacs.  The disease affects an estimated 1 in 100 people in the UK according to Coeliac UK.  However only around 15% of this number have been properly diagnosed.  That means a massive 85% of those with coeliac disease are still being made ill, with the long term risk of osteoporosis or even bowel cancer remaining without treatment.

When a coeliac ingests gluten, an autoimmune response will cause the body to attack the lining of the small intestine.  This leads to damage to the villi (small finger like projections lining the gut).  These are flattened reducing the surface area of the gut, preventing food and nutrients from being properly absorbed.  This can lead to malnourishment and anaemia.  There is currently no medical cure for the disease, and the only treatment is a lifetime gluten free diet.  This means strict avoidance of wheat, rye and barley.

Gluten is commonly found in foods such as pasta, bread, cakes, biscuits, pizza, pastry and flour.  Food is not the only issue, as many drinks such as beer and cheep cola’s can also contain gluten.  Other symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloating, headaches, joint pain and fatigue.  Coeliac disease is also a hereditary condition, so if you have a family member with coeliac disease you are at an increased risk.  Many patients are also incorrectly diagnosed with IBS.  So does this sound like you?  Make sure you see your GP and get tested.


Coeliac UK are this year running an awareness week campaign to encourage supermarkets to sign up for a “gluten free guarantee”.  The campaign aims to improve availability of gluten free food for coeliacs, and the charity is asking supermarkets to  guarantee the following core items are always stocked: fresh white bread, fresh brown bread, bread rolls, breakfast cereals, pasta, flour, crackers and cereal bars.  You can read more about this campaign and how to get involved here.

For more information on coeliac disease, please take the time to read the story of my diagnosis here.  I would also be really grateful if you could share this post to your Facebook and Twitter feeds to help spread the word.  If you think you could be suffering from Coeliac Disease visit the Coeliac UK website for more information, and above all please visit your doctor and get tested before eliminating gluten from your diet.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea


Guest Post: Living Gluten, Dairy and Lactose Free

19 Mar

Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2011 I have become increasingly aware of other food intolerances.  One of the more common intolerances I come across, other than gluten of course, is those who have issues with dairy or lactose.  Many coeliacs have problems with lactose in the early stages after diagnosis, and this is well explained on the Coeliac UK website here.

Being well aware that there are many Gluten Free by the Sea readers who are dairy or lactose intolerant as well as being gluten free, I was keen to be able to offer some extra advice on the subject.  So a huge thank you to Emma Louise Huthchinson of Love Free From (formerly Love Lactose Free Life) for accepting my invitation to share her wisdom with you.  Some of you may have met Emma at either of the last two Coeliac UK Plymouth Group events, or the Christmas Free From Food Fair at Ivybridge last year, which she helped to organise.

Over to Emma…

About Me!

Profile pic Coeliac UK AGMHi I am Emma of Love Free From, a small online retailer selling an extensive range of the tastiest freefrom chocolate and treats. My little business was created in 2011 after I had given up lactose, dairy and gluten for medical reasons. In 2011 I also gave birth to our little boy who has been lactose intolerant since birth.

Avoiding gluten for medical reasons is a life time challenge. One that gets easier over time but you never have a break from. I am lucky that I have not been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. However, I have been blood tested several times as I show very similar symptoms when I consume gluten to Coeliac sufferers.

I am still undergoing my diagnosis journey. For the past 6 years I have visited my GP surgery numerous times, seen several dieticians, a gastroenterologist and an immunologist. I have been told I have a virus, acute urticaria, asthma, hives, IBS, stress, anxiety, lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity. Most medical practitioners don’t believe there is anything wrong with me and I am fighting for my symptoms to be acknowledged. What I do know is that when I eat certain foods I have symptoms. These range from heartburn and reflux, nausea and brain fog, bowel problems and stomach cramps, aching joints and back ache to itchy skin and eyes, rashes and migraines. Most of these symptoms have gone after removing not only lactose but dairy and gluten from my diet.

On the bright side I love food. Even avoiding dairy, lactose and gluten I still love food. I love to cook, I love to bake and I am a complete chocoholic. It made sense to me to specialise in seeking out and selling allergen free chocolates to anyone who would otherwise miss out.

The Free From Industry

lovefreefrom logo all golden

Being involved in the freefrom industry has put me in touch with some of the most supportive people I will ever meet. Through social media you can discuss symptoms, diagnosis, recipes and eating out. You can even just chat knowing that other people understand your daily routine. It also gave me the fabulous opportunity this year to be a judge at the Free From Food Awards (winners to be announced end of March, www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk ).

Eating with multiple food allergies, intolerances or illnesses is tricky but really follows the same principals to eating avoiding one food source.

Top Tips for Eating Freefrom

  • Read labels – religiously
  • Write a list of allergen names and sources – my list went shopping with me to begin with so I had a reference while reading labels
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – cafes and restaurants should know what is in their food
  • Research places to eat out before you get there – even give them a call ahead of time to ask questions while you both have time to think
  • Challenge yourself to eat more variety – try foods that you might not have tried before as your tastebuds will change and you will benefit from the variety in your diet
  • Make your own version – take normal recipes or watch baking programmes and have a go at making it suitable for you and you may surprise yourself
  • Enjoy making new contacts – there is nothing better than finding a new friend or company who understands your food needs.

My favourite products

There are some fantastic companies making dairy free, lactose free and vegan products which also exclude gluten and other allergens. Of course chocolate is my first love. You can find all my favourites on our website.  For even more I love reading and following the Free From Food Awards, http://www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk/index.html

Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Breakfast –

Udi’s Granola, Whole Earth Cornflakes

  • Lunch or dinner –

Warburtons Seeded Wraps, Tesco own garlic and coriander naan – makes a fab quick pizza base (lightly toast before topping and cooking), Venice Bakery pizza bases and flatbreads used with Mozzarisella Rice cheese – bring on the pizza

DS Gluten Free Crispbreads,

Pure Spreads

  • Milk Alternatives –

Lactofree – extensive range of real dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream) without lactose, great for our little one who is solely lactose intolerant and not dairy allergic

Alpro, KoKo, Good Hemp

  • Pudding and Ice Cream  –

Booja Booja, Swedish Glace, Co Yo, Razzle Dazzle Ices, Bessant and Drury, Pudology, Food Heaven, Lazy Day, Glamour Puds, Salcombe Dairy Sorbets

There are so many fabulous small companies that will have products suitable if you ask. We feature as many as possible on our blog. To name just a few check out these delights (please check all products with the producer for suitable flavours/variations):

  • Belinda Clark Confectioner
  • Raw Nibbles
  • Honeybuns Bakery
  • Ilumi
  • Portlebay Popcorn (sweet and salty only so far)
  • Rossinis (salts, marinades and flavouring)
  • Clives Pies
  • Pulsin
  • Hannah Banana Bakery
  • Munchy Seeds


Coeliac UK Plymouth Group AGM and Food Fair

28 Feb

The Coeliac UK Plymouth Group are holding their AGM at the Elm Community Centre on Saturday March 15th from 1pm.  The Elm Centre is situated next to ASDA in Estover, Plymouth.  Following the formalities of the AGM (apologies in advance to anyone who has to listen to me speak!) there will be a gluten free food fair with eight fantastic local gluten free suppliers/producers in attendance, as well as a couple of craft stalls.  This will be another great opportunity to meet and talk to these great businesses as well as stocking up on some fantastic food.  There will also be tea and coffee served, free samples and of course a raffle with some great prizes.

Non-members are more than welcome to come to the event and I hope to see lots of Gluten Free by the See readers there.  For full information, please see the details that have been sent out to Coeliac UK Plymouth Group members below.

For updates please join the Facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/363380737133221/


Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea


The Coeliac UK Plymouth Voluntary Support Group invite you to join us at the ELM Centre, ASDA Plymouth, for a short meeting in which we can update you on progress and complete the formalities of the Annual General Meeting.  For new members we will be available to give help with such things as prescriptions and best places to purchase gluten free products.  Committee member Suzanne Stephenson will be available to give advice to parents of coeliac children.

After the short meeting a Gluten Free Food Fair will be held.  This will be a great opportunity to stock up on gluten free products from some of the finest local suppliers.  Present will be Traditional Puddings, Clare’s Gluten Free Catering and Love Free From who sold at our previous Elm Centre meeting in November.  They will be joined by Let Them Eat Cake, St Maurice Bakery, Soupy Do, Alison Carter from Tavistock Country Market and Cupcake Universe.  We are organising a raffle with some excellent prizes such as some gluten free beer from CELIA Lager, a prize from JDs Grill and many more.  There will also be a range of free samples available.

In the Elm Centre we will again have use of the excellent kitchen facilities, were teas, coffees, biscuits and cakes will be available.  For all the bakers out there, we welcome you to bake and share with other members.  There will be a £1 voluntary entrance fee to the meeting and members are also encouraged to bring unwanted prescription items for new members.

We are looking forward to seeing you on the 15th March 2014. Doors will open at 1pm with the meeting starting at 1:30pm. The food fair will then run until 4pm.  We sincerely hope you can attend, and trust you will have a great time.


  • Group Organisers Report/future events
  • Treasurers Report
  • Election and re-election of group officers
  • Tea/coffee break with cakes and biscuits
  • Raffle draw
  • Opening of the food fair


The ELM Centre is located in Estover, Plymouth, adjacent to the ASDA Store.  If stood at the ASDA main entrance, turn right down the steps and the centre is at the far end of the courtyard.  Full address is Leypark Court, Leypark Walk, Plymouth PL6 8UE.

There is some community centre parking available, otherwise you can park in the overflow ASDA car park for 3 hours.  Drive straight on rather than turning right into the main car park.

The number 50 City Bus runs regularly to the ASDA store.  You can catch the 27 or 27a if travelling from the City Centre.

For location and directions via Google maps please see link below. To get directions, click the link, press “Get Directions” on the left, enter your start point in the box marked A and then click the blue “Get Directions” button:


Post-Christmas Meal

After some discussion at committee meetings we have decided to hold our meal out during this year’s Coeliac UK Awareness Week which runs from May 12th to May 18th.  This allows us more time to properly plan the event and also gives the opportunity to attract some publicity during Awareness Week.  The meal will be held May 12th at JDs Grill in the city centre. We are finalising plans now and will give an update shortly.

Yours faithfully,

The Coeliac UK Plymouth Voluntary Support Group Committee

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