It’s the question literally nobody is asking. But I’m just going to go ahead and tell you anyway. It is Coeliac Awareness Week after all.
Coeliac Man’s alter ego is a bloke called David. That’s me, hi! And may I say you’re looking rather magnificent today.
In many ways I’m just your normal, regular, every day, normal, run of the mill, average, normal bloke. I have a cool marketing job. I like football. I want to Hulk-smash the living bejesus out of my phone every morning when the alarm goes off.
So far, so normal, right?
But roughly 25 and a bit years ago a potentially catastrophic fate befell our hero. That’s right, Coeliac Man was diagnosed with coeliac disease (hence the name).
Although that doesn’t really do justice to what actually happened so let’s rewind..
When I was just a wee small baby there was a slight problem in that I was vomiting my guts out every day and my stomach had ballooned out to the size of a bowling ball. The sort of stomach where if my parents had filmed me and stuck me on a tv advert people would’ve been texting in to donate £5 a month.
The doctors had no clue what was wrong with me and advised that I should be fed plain foods like breadsticks. Now breadsticks, as I’m sure many of you will have figured out, are loaded up with my own personal kryptonite: gluten. *shudders*
So the vomiting continued until I was referred to see a specialist who had the foresight to insert a small camera into my stomach to figure out what the bladdy hell was kicking off in there.
It was only then that I was diagnosed as being coeliac and told that I needed to follow a strict gluten free diet.
For those of you that don’t know coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten. Symptoms can include a whole range of downright sexy phenomena such as bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness and being a bit grumpy (at least I’m blaming that one on the coeliac disease anyway).
Gluten (aka coeliac kryptonite) is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye (so basically all of your normal bread, cakes, pasta, biscuits etc are all a mahoosive no-no). When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine.
Since diagnosis Coeliac Man grew awesome superpowers such as the ability to eat food without throwing it straight back up and generally developing into the normal (well, sort of) delight of a human being that I am today.
I’ve been living with coeliac disease for over a quarter of a century now so have lots of experience of people asking me what the hell gluten is and assuming that I can’t drink beer due to some sort of hilarious bad experience on a night out. Although I did once have a bad experience when I inadvertently took a sip of beer thinking it was my pint of cider. I then proceeded to be rather unwell for three days.
I’ve also seen the drastic improvements in awareness and product availability, but there’s still lots more to be done. While it’s great to see the number of Coeliac UK accredited restaurants growing, there’s still loads of others who really need to up their game with their gluten free offerings and understanding the risks of contamination.
I’m going to try and use this blog to share tips for newly diagnosed coeliac comrades along with sharing any product, restaurant or recipe discoveries that I find on my adventures.
For now though, I shall wish you all a happy Coeliac Awareness Week and bid you farewell.