FOOD AWARENESS ON what is and is not safe to eat for those who are required to follow a Gluten-free diet is one of the tasks taken on by a Moray group.
The Moray Coeliac Group is aiming this month to dispel many of the myths about Coeliac Disease – underlining the message being transmitted by an increasing number of celebrities on the advantages they have gained from removing gluten from their diet.
Vice-organiser for the local group is Nicola Abrams, who said that a serious and complicated path is laid before those suffering from the disease.
“Coeliac Disease is not an allergy – it is an autoimmune disorder caused by intolerance to gluten, which causes damage to the lining of the small intestine,” she explained, adding: “There is no cure or medication for the condition, the only treatment is to follow a strict lifelong gluten free diet.
“Coeliac UK is a national charity who provide support, campaigning and undertakes research into the condition. Recent research suggests that 1 in 100 people have Coeliac Disease – but staggeringly only 10 to 15% of those people are currently diagnosed. It is estimated that over half a million people in the UK have Coeliac Disease and don’t know it.”
Nicola added that many of us know people who say they have issues with wheat, persistent stomach trouble, anaemia or other symptoms. She said: “The Moray Coeliac Group would like to ask them to listen to their ‘gut feeling’ and consider the possibility of being tested for Coeliac Disease.
“Other symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating, fatigue, weight loss, hair loss and skin rashes. However once established on a strict gluten free diet most people find that their symptoms gradually reduce and can even stop altogether – the small intestine eventually repairs the damage caused by eating gluten.
“Every person is different and it is important to access the correct medical support through your GP and Dietician. Raising awareness is important – cross contamination should be avoided as further ingestion of gluten will cause damage to the intestine even if the person doesn’t notice any external symptoms. This is why asking about gluten free options and food preparation methods in restaurants and cafes is vital and not just a person being picky or faddy.”
While it can be confusing for those first diagnosed with the condition, the Moray Group consists of people who have experienced the condition and can help, with members always available to chat through the diagnosis process and help people adjust to a gluten free diet.
Nicola said: “Our group meets on the first Saturday of the month for coffee, gluten free cake and a chat at a local café.”
After the success of their first Food Fayre in 2013 held to celebrate their 25th year, Moray Coeliac Group is hosting another Food Fayre on Saturday, April 2 from 10.30am – 3.30pm in Elgin Town Hall – entry is free and everyone is welcome.
“There will be a huge range of things going on, you can enjoy some samples from the various food stands, chat to the dietician, meet members of the local Coeliac Group, watch a cookery demonstration, have a cuppa at the pop up café and discover local eateries which cater for gluten free diets.”