Are all articles on coeliac disease helpful?
Fellow coeliac? Sit down! It's a rarity in day-to-day life to meet one (that is, if you don't run a gluten-free cake business).
I find another coeliac’s perspective can help build camaraderie – a feeling that I’m not in this alone. It can also be an opportunity to find someone else putting something in a way I’d not thought about, helping clarify a point that others have missed.
But I recently stumbled across an article which I wasn’t sure was helpful. (You can read it here.)
On the one hand, there are some excellent points about the cost of gluten-free living if you want to buy like for like products. It’s also got a helpful information section on symptoms if you’re coeliac.
But in spreading awareness, I think it’s always important to put things into perspective. We’re currently living in a very odd time where thousands of people have lost their lives to a hideous virus. So to have no other underlying health issues and then moan about an illness that’s manageable through diet is shaky ground indeed.
Using words like 'prisoner' makes the illness seem a lot worse than it actually is. Initially it's pretty awful when you find out your new diagnosis and have to adjust, but after a while it's important to realise this is simply the hand you've been dealt. There are many ways to overcome problems. Admittedly, there are times when it isn't easy, and the writer is correct in that some people do get awful problems from having coeliac disease (the worst cases including cancer). Thankfully, those cases are rare and the majority of coeliac issues boil down to being glutened, which is incredibly unpleasant, but usually avoidable.
So in the main, especially when there are some hideous and desperately sad things going on in the world, I'm quite pleased my problems as a coeliac aren't worse.
The article also some rather odd points. The part where he only had a salad in Italy - that's one of the best places to go as a coeliac! (I was there last August and had some amazing food, including pizza.) And England has become pretty good about serving gluten-free food. Most places now offer gluten-free options. There are some places that don’t (like Burger King) but they’re generally places I’d avoid anyway.
Had I no prior knowledge of coeliac disease, after reading Jack Longstaff’s article I’d have come away thinking it was a lot more catastrophic than it is. It reminds me of the way a newly-diagnosed coeliac feels for the first few months (but he’s been diagnosed for a year and a half). Once you get used to your diagnosis, the silver linings are definitely there. It’s a diet that forces many people to eat more healthily, often having to avoid ready meals, cook from scratch and not eat fried food (because of cross contamination problems). And it stopped me from polishing off a freshly filled biscuit barrel – a fact my family were all too pleased about!
While we shouldn’t ignore the issues coeliacs have that 'normal' eaters don't, there are ways to go about getting the message across. It would have been lovely if the article had ended on a positive instead of the word "depression". I really hope a day comes when he sees his illness as something that's manageable and not a lifetime sentence.
What are your thoughts? Is the article helpful? Would you change it in any way? Do comment below!