Hello and welcome!
It was nearly 15 years ago when I first encountered coeliac disease. I was having breakfast with a girlfriend and her new beau. Before we could order he called the waiter over and asked if there was something he could have instead of bread to accompany his eggs. The waiter consulted the kitchen and offered a side of french fries. What is this crazy condition that allows you to order chips for breakfast I wondered?
A little over a decade later and a visit to any of the cafés on King St, Newtown where that first encounter took place and you’re hard pressed to find a café that doesn’t offer a couple of gluten-free options and have gluten-free bread as standard. We’ve certainly come a long way.
My own experience of this gluten-free life started three years ago. My partner Bart suddenly became seriously ill. He had food poisoning symptoms that lasted several weeks and he quickly lost an unhealthy amount of weight. Symptoms that will be oh so familiar to many of you. On one of our visits to the GP, she suggested he eliminate dairy and gluten to see if the symptoms eased. At the time this wasn’t difficult to introduce as he wasn’t keeping food down anyway. But it turned out to be the wrong advice, because when other tests came back negative, he’d been off gluten too long for a blood test to indicate if coeliac disease was causing his symptoms.*
Multiple gastroscopies and several specialists later, we finally found the cause of his problems. A tumor, the size of a grapefruit was growing on the outside of his stomach. To remove it, the surgeon had to also remove two-thirds of his stomach in a procedure known as a partial gastrectomy.
It’s now six-months post the operation. What remains of his stomach is extremely sensitive and vigilantly following a gluten, dairy and alcohol-free diet seems to be the only thing keeping him out of the bathroom.
During all this, I was surprised to learn that Australia didn’t have a magazine available from newsagents to support, educate and enrich the lives of those on this gluten-free journey. We hope that Australian Gluten-Free Life will be this and more. As I’ve spoken to more and more people with coeliac disease and other medically diagnosed gluten-related illnesses, I’ve learnt that a diagnosis doesn’t come without a story. We all have one and this is our space to share, laugh and support one other.
Australian Gluten-Free Life isn’t about what one can’t eat, but instead celebrating and enjoying a life without gluten. Whether it’s been 40 years or four-weeks since your diagnosis we are sure you’ll find something useful on the pages within.
I’d love to hear from readers about your journey and your thoughts on our very first issue.
In health and happiness,
* If you believe you have coeliac disease please see your doctor and request to be tested before eliminating gluten from your diet.