Living with... Coeliac Disease

Living with coeliac disease

This is part 1 of a ‘living with…’ series. Coeliac disease is something that’s becoming more and more common as more diagnoses are made, with the NHS stating 1 in 100 people have the condition. Luckily I was diagnosed when i was 7, so I've been able to adapt my lifestyle from a pretty early age.

What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition (not to be confused with an allergy or intolerance- but thank you so much to the media who have encouraged such conflation...) as a reaction to gluten. When eating gluten, the body's defence against infection mistakenly attacks healthy tissue due to it thinking gluten is a threat to the body. Normally it damages the small bowel (intestines) disrupting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food causing a variety of problems.

coeliac disease villi
Gluten destroying my villi since 1991. Source
My mum noticed very early on some of the effects of coeliac disease had had on me. I was visibly malnourished and looked like a child on a African charity advert with the very visible symptoms of malnutrition- bloated stomach whilst the rest of my body looked like it was wasting away. I was constantly covered in bruises due to a lack of vitamin K and was a very anxious and tired child. Furthermore, I would have stomach cramps and vomit on a regular basis and felt generally unwell all the time. Whilst these were my main symptoms that something wasn't right, the NHS list the following symptoms as key to diagnoses:
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia 
I feel like one of the main aims of this post is to raise awareness of the disease. Whilst my mum knew something was wrong and took me to the doctors, they quickly dismissed anything was wrong and instead blamed it on the vegetarian diet I had been brought up on (I was vegetarian from birth). Obviously this was quite upsetting for my mum as she was always very wary and conscious to give me a well-balanced diet. Further down the line, my symptoms prevailed and my mum decided to get a second opinion. After having my blood tests analysed they came back inconclusive which meant having an biopsy via endoscopy. As a child patient the endoscopy was really easy. I was asleep when they did it and it was basically a breeze until the nurses offered me toast after i'd woken up again... oh the irony. Many years later I had an endoscopy for another condition I have without being put to sleep and just under a local anesthetic, so I can say I've lived to tell the tale both asleep and awake. Whilst this wasn't the most pleasant experience, it was okay. I feel this part is really important- whilst times have changed and doctors are much more wary about coeliac disease, if you believe there is something not right, please keep seeking help until you are satisfied.

Lifestyle Change
After confirming I had coeliac disease, I have ever since been on a gluten-free diet. Whilst it was a struggle at first finding out what I could and couldn't eat, bearing in mind i'm also a vegetarian, it has become something of a second nature to me. There are so many hidden ingredients that contain gluten in processed foods that the easiest way to keep gluten-free is to eat clean and healthy.

The worst thing really is the dismissive approach many people have to it. Firstly this is not an intolerance, it is a autoimmune disease. And yes, it does matter that the recipe has 'only a few drops of soy sauce in'. Some studies have shown that 1/145th of a slice of bread can seriously affect a coeliac. Same goes for cross-contamination. The media have really latched onto the gluten-free fad for people trying to lose weight or who have a slight intolerance, and this has proved a big problem as people lack an understanding of what being gluten-free entails for coeliacs- it means 100% eliminating gluten. And what it means when someone eats gluten can be completely detrimental to both their physical and mental health for a prolonged period of time. I noticed my anxiety and fatigue were significantly increased if my diet came into contact with gluten, and i felt generally unwell for a prolonged period of time. And this is just me- some people have it a hell of a lot worse.

The unwanted attention is also an annoyance. To be honest, I've learnt to just be self-sufficient in being able to provide food for myself at dinner parties or to just stick to plain old salads when i go out to eat. When friends or family say "well where can YOU eat?", it makes me feel like a complete spanner. I'd quite frankly order a bowl of vegetables whilst everyone was tucking into pizza than have this question thrown at me every time we go out to eat. I dislike attention at the best of times!

I had coeliac disease before it became a trend
Gluten Free Food
I’m actually not a huge fan of the gluten-free food you can buy in supermarkets. The same goes for vegetarian versions of meat. They're often very processed and have a lot of preservatives in (whilst also costing an arm and a leg) which is such a shame. I’m planning on writing a post on my favourite gluten-free foods you can buy, but I mainly stick with basic things like pasta, and flours to make pizza bases etc. Pasta is probably one of the few things that I don’t mind buying from the gluten free section as it's not too expensive and it's useful when i need a quick meal. Generally though I prefer to stick with naturally gluten free food, or just stick with vegetable alternatives. One thing I am looking forward to getting though is the Udi's Mince Pies, they are amazing!

But wait, so you cant eat gluten OR meat… what DO you eat?!
The initial reaction to everyone I tell about my dietary requirements, which can sometimes be annoying. Gluten isn't in everything, and neither is meat! There’s so many things out there you can eat, and without gluten or meat they're often healthier for you- so whilst it may be annoying, it does have its benefits. There are many grains that are gluten free with quinoa and brown rice being two of my favourites. Restaurants are generally a lot more clued in than they ever have been with gluten free items often being circled on menus, and some restaurants even offer gluten free pasta, pizza etc. I will endeavor about making a post about the best restaurants I have been to that cater for coeliacs. 

Do you or anyone you know have coeliac disease? Do you have any foods that you have to avoid?

My 90's Childhood

Reminiscing about my 90's childhood is one of my favorite things to discuss. I've even got a Pinterest board dedicated to remembering my childhood! I've decided to compile a list (mostly for my own nostalgic gratification) of the things I particularly enjoyed or remember during my childhood. Please share with me the things that you remember from when you were growing up!

Glitter batons, tamagotchis, beanie babies, polly pockets, yoyos, adjustable fisher price roller-skates, water ring games, velcro catch game, blo pens, bumble balls, gel pens, MASH writing game, viewmaster, cats cradle, French skipping, hit clips, slinkys, pogs, gooey aliens, fashion plates, post office toy, ballerina jewelry boxes, fun fax, screwball scramble, my beloved Gameboy b&w, art sets. 

Glitter Batons, Fisher Price Skates, Fashion Plates, Gooey UFO, Ballerina Jewelry Box, Screwball Scramble, Viewmaster.
TV Programmes
X change, round the twist, smart, kerching, the queens nose, the demon headmaster, recess, rugrats, the wild thornberrys, sweet valley high, mona the vampire, the lampies, the ghost hunter, fun house, the moomins, SM:tv live. 

Baby-g watches, choker necklaces, snap bracelets, scrunchies, flares, lunch boxes, jelly shoes, braids, puffy paint for drawing on t shirts, temporary tattoos, clarks shoes, dungarees, bandannas, butterfly clips, tearaway popper tracksuit bottoms.

Baby-G Watch, Rainbow Brite Lunchbox, Butterfly Clips, Teraway Popper Tracksuit Bottoms, Scrunchies, Clarks Lightup Shoes, Snappers.
Whistle pops, pringle holders, bubble tape, party rings, sunny D, white aeros (really want these back), fruit roll-ups, um bongo, turkey twizzlers, curly fries, caramel apple pops, cereal with toys in, extra dissolving mint strips, fruit salad sweets, wham bars, pingu ice cream, taz chocolate bars, chocolate cigarettes, BN biscuits, skips, discos, sour polos, hubba bubba, cherry drops, wagon wheels, wonkas exploding chocolate (really want these back too!).
Tomb raider, roller-coaster tycoon, theme hospital. The sims, wolfenstein, theme park world, Kid Pix, Aladdin, red alert, prince of persia

See-through telephones, inflatable chairs/backpacks/everything, bath oil beads (loved the way these looked/felt!).

Does anyone else remember these?! What things do you remember from your childhood?

Current Skincare Routine

Whilst I don’t have the money to lash out on high end skincare, me like everyone else, am in a constant battle to improve my skin. A few words on my skin history: I went through a patch of having quite a few spots during my teenage years, but these have mostly cleared up now and I’m left with very slight discolouration and the odd spot here and there. The main issue I have is that my skin is dry and dehydrated, but I also get quite bad congestion around my chin area and blackheads on my nose. 

My favourite cleanser I've ever tried is the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. Whilst it’s pretty expensive, I try and ask for it at Christmas. It’s gentle on my sensitive skin, and the formula is really great for when my skin is particularly dry. I simply apply it to the skin with dry hands, melting the cleanser with the warmth of my fingertips and then run warm water over my muslin cloth and 'polish' the cleanser away gently. It gets rid of really stubborn mascara, and removes all the makeup on your face. By using the cloth its easy to ensure all your makeup has come off- something i don't like about other cleansers as i'm never really sure if all my makeup really is off. The other cleanser I've been trying is the Garnier Micellar CleansingWater. Whilst i like the concept of this product, I do find it takes a lot of it to get rid of my mascara and all my makeup. I also feel like my skin has a slight film after using it which I don’t really like. The only time I really use it is when I can't be bothered going to the bathroom and using the Liz Earle.

I’m quite fussy with my moisturisers. My go to moisturiser is the Oilatum Natural Repair Face Cream. It’s free from fragrances, preservatives and emulsifiers and fuss free, and does an excellent job of moisturising my face. I’ve been using this for years now and find it particularly helpful during the winter months. The other moisturiser i use if i’m in a rush to apply makeup is the Nivea Daily Essentials Express Hydration Primer for dry and sensitive skin. Whilst it doesn't penetrate my skin very deep with its moisturing qualities, it does act as a good primer and can notice a difference to the base of my foundation with this. Ideally i would like to try out a moisturiser from the Origins range but i'm a little hesitant to splash out yet. If anyone has any recommendations of moisturisers for dry/sensitive skin, please let me know! 

I’ve only been using the La Roche Posay Effacla Duo+ for a few weeks but found it has helped with my congested skin on my chin. I had a particularly nasty cystic spot and found applying this in the evenings really helped. I also use the Boots Botanics Organic Facial Oil when my skin is feeling particularly dry and dehydrated. I get a few drops on my fingertips and massage it into the areas my skin is suffering. I only apply this as an overnight treatment as it does take a while to sink in and don’t think it would do too great with makeup applied over it.

What i want to change
Whilst i'm mostly happy with my current skincare routine, i do want to try and introduce a toner that contains salicylic acid to try combat my blackheads and spots when i get them. Whilst the moisturiser I use is good, I do want to dabble in the Origins range to see if the grass is greener. If you have any good recommendations please let me know!

Do you have any suggestions for products that contain salcytic acid? What are you holy grail skincare products?

Top 5 Destinations I'd Revisit

I’m always one for travelling to new places, often forgetting about how much I have enjoyed many of the places I've already been to. Naomi from Todds Travels has nominated me to be part of - Top Destinations to Go There- thanks! I liked the idea of reminiscing about the places worthy of a revisit, so here’s my 5 cents!

1. Bruges
I fell in love with Bruges as soon as we arrived. The cobbled streets, delicious chocolate and the pretty canals lit at night made it one of the most romantic places I've visited. I think this place often gets overlooked, but I've never met anyone that didn't love it here!

2. Paris
Me and Paris have had a long-term love affair, and I love it every time I visit. You don’t need a lot of money to immerse yourself in Parisian culture. My favourite things to do are to walk around and people watch whilst nibbling on a cheeky macaroon!

3. The Dordogne
Always my absolute favourite place, a ‘home from home’. Plenty to do, and also an outdoorsy place mixed with the French culture- amazing! With all the markets and natural beauty, it's impossible not to love it.

4. North Wales
Me and Mr Nomad have just returned from a road trip around North Wales and we absolutely loved it.  Mr Nomad actually said it reminded him of the West coast of Tasmania. Definitely a place for the outdoor lovers and the scenery is amazing. Lookout for an upcoming post about our trip and climbing Snowdon!

5. Queensland
Somewhere I’ll be returning to soon! And not just returning- but moving to- argh! Brisbane is also another place that’s underrated. I loved it here and it was the perfect destination to explore for my first solo travel trip when i turned 18.

And that's all folks! Looking through old photos and remembering the memories I've made in these places has reminded me how fun it would be to go back.

I also nominate 5 other bloggers to share their 5 destinations they'd revisit:

1. Tom from Waegook Tom
2. Jennie from Sailboat
3. Kiersten from She is Fierce
4. Rosie from A Rosie Outlook
5. Kelly from Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes

So now i want to know, where would you visit again if you could? Please comment below and let me know!