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Could You Go Without Gluten For A Week? PDF Print Email

Coeliac UK, the national charity for coeliac disease is challenging the nation to go gluten-free from 14-20 May to raise awareness of the daily food frustrations encountered by the 1 in 100 people in the UK who have coeliac disease.


The idea of the Gluten-free Challenge is for people to shop, cook or eat out completely gluten-free for a week in order to experience what it is like to be diagnosed with coeliac disease and have to check every ingredient on every packet to ensure it doesn't contain any gluten.


Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by intolerence to gluten. There is no cure and no medication and the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life.


The average diagnosis period is 13 years and currently only 10-15% of those with the condition are diagnosed, with half a million people in the UK currently undiagnosed. Left untreated it can lead to infertility, osteoporosis and small bowel cancer.


Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and is found in bread, pasta, pizza, cakes and beer etc. However, it is also often used in a wide range of products including mayonnaise, soy sauce, sauces, sausages and many processed goods.


Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive of Coeliac UK said: "After struggling for years to get diagnosed with coeliac disease many people are then faced with a complete change in diet and lifestyle. People may be surprised by how good some gluten-free products are and how many naturally gluten-free dishes there are on a restaurant menu. However there may also be frustrations by the unnecessary limitations on your diet, such as sauces made with wheat flour or fruit salad being the only suitable dessert on offer. But by taking the Challenge you will be doing your bit to help educate and to get the changes needed. Popping into your local restaurant and asking what they have which is gluten-free is spreading awareness and will hopefully encourage caterers to offer more gluten-free options for all customers."


Most pharmacies stock a range of products suitable for celiac sufferers and and always on hand to provide friendly, useful advice.

About Coeliac Disease

•           Coeliac disease is a serious illness where the body's immune system reacts to gluten found in food, making the body attack itself.


•           1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, however only 10-15% of these have been diagnosed and average length of diagnosis is 13 years.


•           Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including spelt), rye and barley. Some people are also sensitive to oats. Obvious sources of gluten include breads, pastas, flours, cereals, cakes and biscuits. It is often used as an ingredient in many favourite foods such as fish fingers, sausages, gravies, sauces and soy sauce.


•           Coeliac UK is working closely with food industry to help the Free From market improve - look out for new product launches and ranges, which will increase the choice for people with coeliac disease.


•           The symptoms of coeliac disease range from mild to severe and can vary between individuals. Not everyone with coeliac disease experiences gut related symptoms; any area of the body can be affected.


•           Symptoms can include bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, wind, tiredness, anaemia, headaches, mouth ulcers, recurrent miscarriages, weight loss (but not in all cases), skin problems, depression, joint or bone pain and nerve problems.


•           Around 1200 newly diagnosed people are joining Coeliac UK every month.


For further details on membership please call the Helpline on 0845 305 2060 further information can be found at