Liv­ing with dis­ease is a recipe for life

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Ni­cola Wil­liams

For many the most chal­leng­ing part of a restau­rant menu is de­cid­ing on a meal.

For some­one with coeliac dis­ease it’s find­ing some­thing they can eat.

Coeliac dis­ease is a per­ma­nent in­testi­nal in­tol­er­ance to gluten which is found in wheat, bar­ley, rye and in some cases oats.

It causes up­set stom­achs, se­vere ab­dom­i­nal pain, vom­it­ing, al­ler­gic re­ac­tions, mouth ul­cers and chronic di­ar­rhoea.

Coeliac Aware­ness Week from May 24 to 30 aims to ed­u­cate peo­ple about the con­di­tion.

An es­ti­mated 1 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion have coeliac dis­ease, but four out of five aren’t aware of it.

The theme of this year’s ap­peal is Are you one in 100?

Coeli­acs must keep to a strict gluten-free diet for life.

If the dis­ease is un­treated there is an in­creased risk of bowel can­cer and other health prob­lems.

Max­ine Belcher was di­ag­nosed 18 years ago and says at first it seemed as if ev­ery­thing was banned from her diet.

That was un­til she learned about al­ter­na­tive in­gre­di­ents.

She didn’t know any other peo­ple with the con­di­tion so “was on the phone like a shot” when she saw a sup­port group ad­ver­tised.

Miss­ing out on foods she liked was frus­trat­ing un­til she learned to bake. When go­ing to other peo­ple’s houses for din­ner she needs to take her own food.

Some restau­rants and cafes now have gluten-free op­tions but pre­vi­ously Max­ine would only be able to have cof­fee when out.

Peo­ple should un­der­stand that it’s not a fad but a diet that is es­sen­tial to fol­low, she says.

Eight-year-old Ni­cola Perry was di­ag­nosed with coeliac dis­ease at age three.

She says she has a valid ex­cuse not to eat some of the foods she doesn’t like, al­though she doesn’t get out of eat­ing veg­eta­bles.

Her mother be­longs to the Coeliac So­ci­ety where she learns how to pre­pare meals for her, such as her favourite – cheese fin­gers.

The hard­est part for Ni­cola is go­ing to a restau­rant and not be­ing able to eat any­thing.

She says liv­ing with the con­di­tion is not much dif­fer­ent from peo­ple who have food al­ler­gies.

An­nual meet­ings are held in May where guest speak­ers high­light trends and new re­search on the dis­ease.

The so­ci­ety works through its sup­port group lead­ers around the coun­try.

They pro­vide help to newly-di­ag­nosed suf­fer­ers as well as on­go­ing sup­port.

For more de­tails call Max­ine on 576-7943 or go to www.coeliac.co.nz.

Photo: FIONA GOODALL

World of al­ter­na­tives: Max­ine Belcher, left, and Ni­cola Perry en­joy gluten-free scones.

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