I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease, totally out of the blue, at the age of 30. It was a massive shock and took a lot of getting used to. Things that had always been easy (see food, eat food, enjoy food, no problem) suddenly became a challenge. Labels needed to be checked, toasters couldn’t be used, my favourite restaurants became the stuff of nightmares. Basically, food transformed from a pleasure into a minefield to be navigated with painstaking care.
The obvious foods like bread and cakes were easy to avoid, but it was a real learning curve getting my head around all of the things with ‘hidden’ gluten in them, things like stock cubes, grated cheese, crisps and chocolate. It felt like checking food labels was going to be a full time job for life. Then I got used to it and it is nothing more than a minor irritant now.
Eating out seemed like a no-go at first too, but now I’ve got a growing list of local restaurants which I know are safe and offer a good range of options for me. My friends and family all choose venues from my shortlist and so I can still enjoy meals out with them.
Baking was hugely frustrating at first. I used to enjoy baking but my success rate nose-dived once I had to cut out gluten. My mum attacked gluten free baking with enthusiasm and had more initial success than me – thus keeping me comfortably in gluten free cakes and biscuits from the outset. I wanted to reclaim my baking ability though – so I determined to bake more and practise, practise, practise. Bit by bit, my baking became more and more successful and increasingly adventurous. Now, I love finding new recipes and adding them to my collection and the best part is that there are now very few things from my pre-coeliac diet which I can’t recreate in my kitchen.
When I was first diagnosed, I relied heavily on other people’s blogs to get advice and ideas. Also, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook were (and continue to be) a fantastic source of information, from recipes to reviews. Knowing how much I benefitted from other people’s work on social media, I decided to start this blog to share my experiences. Initially intended more as an online recipe folder than anything else, Claire’s GF Kitchen has become a collection of recipes, product reviews, restaurant reviews and stories of the good, the bad and the ugly of my gluten free life. I hope it’s of interest and of use to you. Please follow me on Twitter @CGFKitchen and subscribe to this blog so you never miss a post. I monitor comments so please do get in touch. Watch out for my Pinterest coming soon.
PS: I am not claiming to have created any of the recipes myself, this blog is simply intended as a way of recording what I have done and passing on tips to other people – it’s a diary, not a recipe book. That said, if you feel that I am infringing any copyright etc. please get in touch and I will be happy to remove the article in question.