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Feel overwhelmed and worried at the thought of it?
Relax, we have some helpful tips for you!
First of all, what does being coeliac mean?
- Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition, meaning the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues which in coeliacs is the gut.
- If gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) is eaten, the absorptive surface of the intestine is damaged. This leads to a range of unpleasant symptoms and if not treated can lead to serious complications such as osteoporosis, diabetes, malnutrition, cancer and more.
How is Coeliac disease treated?
By eating a gluten-free diet, for life.
The basics of Coeliac disease
For coeliacs, ingesting even tiny amounts of gluten (like crumbs from bread) can trigger symptoms and damage to the gut.
If you’re entertaining a coeliac, you need to know how important it is to avoid cross-contamination. More on that later.
Is this getting too scary? It really isn’t. Once you get the hang of being gluten free, it’s pretty easy (we should know, one of us has it!).
The obvious foods a coeliac should avoid are:
- Bakery products.
- Barley squashes.
- Beer, stout and ales.
But there are many common foods containing gluten that don’t look so obvious (like sauces and stock cubes).
Coeliac disease means avoiding some dietary staples including bread, pasta and pastry, unless these are made specially gluten free. Photo by Wesual Click on Unsplash.
What coeliacs CAN eat:
- Fresh unprocessed foods such as meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, rice, potatoes, dairy products.
- Oats – but these should be gluten-free oats due to the milling process.
- Wine, spirits, liqueurs, fizzy drinks, flavoured water.
- Home baking produce IF gluten-free ingredients are used…..e.g gf flour and baking powder.
- There are now LOADS of tasty gluten free products available for coeliacs in supermarkets and online. We have a great range of gluten free hampers that contain award-winning gluten free food from top British producers.
Luckily, the UK is home to a whole host of fabulous gluten free producers, many of which we include in our gluten free Christmas hampers.
The labelling of gluten free food
- With ALL processed foods check the label.
- Anything labelled ‘free from gluten’, ‘gluten-free’ or has a crossed grain sign on it, is safe.
- All packaged foods in the UK and EU are covered by labelling laws and allergen information (which includes wheat, rye and barley) MUST be provided on the label.
More information regarding the gluten-free diet can be found on the very helpful website coeliac.org.uk.
Avoid cross contamination
To keep your coeliac guest safe, stick to these rules:
- keep cooking utensils separate during food preparation and cooking.
- avoid frying food in the same oil that has previously been used to cook foods which contain gluten.
- use a clean grill, separate toaster or toaster bags to make gluten free toast.
- use separate breadboards and wash surfaces thoroughly.
- use separate condiments like jam, butter, mustard and mayonnaise (crumbs love sticking to these).
Our experience of hosting gluten-free people
Hosting someone who’s coeliac isn’t difficult but it does need thinking about and pre-planning.
It IS possible to have normal tasty meals that are gluten-free that are enjoyable for both coeliacs and non-coeliacs.
Here at The British Hamper Company, one of our Directors, Liz, is coeliac and most of her family meals are made gluten-free for ease and the rest of the family cannot tell the difference!
A gluten free Christmas dinner doesn’t mean compromising on taste. Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash.
In fact, Liz inspired us to create a range of gluten free hampers that gives coeliacs the opportunity to enjoy gluten free food they may not have tried before.
All food and drink in our gluten free hampers is sourced from Britain’s best artisan producers and we’ve found them suitable for whole families too as there’s no compromise on taste!
But watch out for cross-contamination. At Christmas and other big occasions with lots of guests, the potential for glutenous crumb dropping etc is greater.
And be sensitive. Many people with Coeliac disease feel awkward or embarrassed about it and hate to feel they’re putting you out. They DO appreciate the extra effort you made!
With this in mind, here are a few phrases not to say to a coeliac!
Do you ever have a break from this? (They can’t, it’s a lifelong disease)
- Isn’t this a new trend? (No, coeliac disease is a medical condition. Some people however choose to live a gluten free diet without being diagnosed as coeliac)
- Surely a couple of crumbs won’t hurt you. (Yes, it certainly can. Some coeliacs can’t even bake in case they inhale flour particles in the air!)
- You’ll be able to eat gluten after a few years (Unfortunately not, it’s lifelong)
- It’s a much healthier diet (it’s not particularly, many processed gf foods have higher sugar in them).
- You must have had it as a child (no, it can develop at any age)
Don’t forget - check out coeliac.org.uk for all aspects of coeliac disease.