Phlo Perspectives: being diagnosed as coeliac and leading a gluten free lifestyle

October 5, 2022
8 minute read

Colette in our engineering team was diagnosed with coeliac disease four years ago, and we caught up with her to learn first-hand about her journey, how she adapted and why living a gluten free lifestyle isn’t as daunting as it sounds.  

Hello, I’m Colette. I’m 24 years old and I work at Phlo as a Software Engineer. I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2018 after a long struggle with multiple symptoms of the condition. I was at university at the time and was terrified of what my diagnosis meant for my social life.

It was really hard at first. I was experiencing a combination of relief (about finally knowing what was wrong) and fear about what my life would look like following a gluten free diet. It took me a while to get used to such a big change!

The great thing about the gluten free diet is that, if you manage to follow it 100% accurately, the symptoms of the condition will correct, and you will begin to feel much better.

Over the years it has gotten much easier! Picking up gluten free replacements and checking food labels in the supermarket has become second nature. And most major supermarkets have dedicated free-from aisles and ranges to make things even easier! Now that I've got my diet under control, most days my condition doesn’t affect my day-to-day life at all.

There are plenty of bars and restaurants across the UK that offer gluten free alternatives and options and my friends and family are always really understanding that we go somewhere that is safe for me when we head out for a meal together. The fears that my social life would take a hit were certainly not a problem after all!

My main piece of advice for anyone who is newly diagnosed is to stay consistent, keep going and know you are not alone. You’ll soon find yourself feeling better than ever!

Join Coeliac UK

Hands down the biggest thing that helped me when I was first diagnosed was joining the Coeliac UK community. The membership fee starts from £1.25 a month and they provide so many helpful resources including:

  • Helpline dieticians you can reach out to anytime if you need advice
  • Food and drinks guide with thousands of gluten free products
  • Venue guides so you know where you can eat out worry-free in your area
  • An amazing food scanner app that you can use to scan items in the supermarket to check if they are safe to eat (whilst you’re getting used to the tricky food label reading)
  • A gluten-free magazine (sometimes this comes with coupons for money off gluten-free goodies)
  • Loads of recipes you can try out
  • Travel guides
Learn how to check product labels

When you first get diagnosed, it's really important that you learn what to look out for in products to make sure they are safe to eat. Products that contain or may contain the following ingredients are usually not safe to eat:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats
  • Spelt
  • Khorasan wheat

There are exceptions to these rules. There’s a law that covers the term ‘gluten free’ which means foods and drinks can only be labelled gluten free if they contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or less of gluten. So, if a product is labelled gluten free (even if the ingredients contain any of the above) it is safe to eat! However, once you get to know your body, you’ll be able to judge what works for you.

Learn how to eliminate cross contamination

It is important that you don’t waste all your good work by allowing your food to be contaminated with gluten. It can be hard (especially if you live with your family) to remove gluten from your kitchen completely so it is a great idea to have a separate area for preparing gluten free food.

You should always wipe down or wash pots, pans and surfaces before preparing gluten free food and a separate toaster or toaster bags if your toaster at home is being used for regular bread. You should also buy your own butter and use spoons for jams and condiments to avoid any breadcrumbs getting in there.

More questions about coeliac disease? Explore more.

Want to check if you might have coeliac disease? Check your symptoms.

What does a gluten free diet look like? Find out more.

If you have any questions or concerns about travelling with a chronic condition, get in touch with our friendly pharmacy team who can offer you advice and guidance.

Content last reviewed on:
October 5, 2022
Next review date:
October 5, 2024
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