If you've read my article in Gluten-Free Heaven magazine this month then you'll know I've been doing a spot of myth-busting. I got a bit fed up of seeing rogue posters on Pinterest from people who clearly didn't know what they were talking about, no doubt scaremongering the coeliac community, and I wanted to set the record straight.
Myth-busted: wheat-free doesn't mean gluten-free, so rye bread's not ok for coeliacs
But there was one thing I didn't mention: weight. There's this idea if you're coeliac and eating gluten, you'll quickly become emaciated from malnourishment. While this can and does happen to many undiagnosed coeliacs, it's not a given, and it certainly didn't happen to me.
I was clearing out a drawer the other day (a tiny step towards decluttering) and found an old photo from my 21st birthday. At this time, I'd had symptoms of coeliac disease for nearly a year, but to look at me you'd never know it, and here's the photo as proof:
Not exactly a stranger to a fish supper.
There's not much that looks wrong with me in this photo (apart from a dodgy barnet). So how could I have known I had coeliac disease?
The list on the NHS website is helpful. It includes the following:
I had all these symptoms. If there had been more awareness about coeliac disease at the time, I might not have had to endure another 2 years of pain before my eventual diagnosis.
While things are certainly better now, the Coeliac UK website points out there are still roughly half a million people with coeliac disease who are undiagnosed. That's an incredible number of people who are putting up with horrible symptoms such as pain and fatigue and/or are facing a rather grim set of complications later down the line.
So if you know someone who's suffering or you have your own story to tell, make sure you get the message out there. Coeliac disease is not always easy to spot and enduring the pain that's frequently associated with it isn't easy.
Do share your story below, especially if you have an embarrassing photo (like mine)!