In 2014 my then 6 year old son was diagnosed with coeliac disease. As a mother of three young boys (two of whom are not coeliacs), I assumed that eating in restaurants would become incredibly difficult and that my supermarket shop would become dramatically less interesting. Nothing could have been further from the truth although it took me a few months to work that out.
Although it is thought that one in 100 people in the UK is a coeliac, one in five people buy products that are gluten free. Many new cookery writers extoll the virtues of a gluten free lifestyle. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley and, for many people, removing gluten from their diet has stopped them feeling bloated, nauseous, tired or lessened the symptoms of irritable bowel system. Many celebrities advocate a gluten free diet, including Miley Cyrus, Victoria Beckham, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Alba, Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow – a strong advocate of a gluten free lifestyle saying “every single nutritionist, doctor and health-conscious person I have ever come across … seems to concur that [gluten] is tough on the system and many of us are at best intolerant of it and at worst allergic to it.”
Many leading sports people such as the current world number one tennis player, Novak Djokavic, also follow a gluten free lifestyle. He credits his gluten free diet with changing his health and his tennis – “My life has changed because I now eat the right foods for my body. I feel fresher, more alert and more energetic than I have in my life. You certainly don’t have to be a tennis pro to make the changes I did to improve your body, your health and outlook on life.” Justin Rose, the US 2013 US Open Masters golf champion, has also attributed following a gluten free diet with turning around his golf performance of late – “I have given up gluten, like Djokovic. It worked for him – he is a little whippet,” Rose said. “I reckon I have lost eight to 10 pounds and I feel so much better for it. My joints feel amazing, no soreness, no early morning creaks. It has been amazing. I’m still training and still lifting in the gym and have kept my strength up. It’s just the unwanted stuff that’s disappeared.
So clearly, it is not only diagnosed coeliacs who are buying and eating gluten free food and, in the UK, gluten free consumers are actually exceedingly lucky. Our supermarkets stock many healthy and delicious gluten free products, both their own brands and many items from the hundreds of independent producers who keep thinking of more interesting foods to offer us. In addition, whilst there are some specialist gluten free restaurants and cafes, there are also an increasing number of mainstream chains of restaurants that have introduced gluten free alternatives to their menu.
A few years ago, restricting yourself or being restricted to a gluten free diet was very limiting. This is still the case in some other countries but is absolutely not so in the UK. Our aim in creating this website is to collate all the information in one place about where to shop, eat and drink easily as a gluten free individual. There are new products coming onto the market every day and restaurants and cafes opening regularly so please feel free to let us know about any gluten free discoveries you have made at firstname.lastname@example.org