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Coeliac Disease

Supporting Members with Coeliac Disease


What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac) is a serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when gluten is eaten. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. Some people may also be sensitive to oats. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means the body cannot properly absorb nutrients from food.

People with coeliac disease can have a range of symptoms if they eat gluten, including typical gut symptoms, but other parts of the body can also be affected.

One in 100 people have coeliac disease. If you have a first degree family member who has coeliac disease then the chances of having the condition increase to one in 10.

The treatment for coeliac disease
The only treatment for coeliac disease is a strict gluten-free diet for life. This creates real challenges in catering for people with the condition as eating even a crumb of gluten-containing bread can make someone ill. If gluten is eaten, symptoms can include:

Anyone who gives food to someone with coeliac disease is effectively part of their treatment and needs to understand how to do this safely.

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye so foods that contain these ingredients must be avoided. Gluten is commonly found in flour, breads, crackers, cereals, cakes, biscuits, pasta, pizza and other products. Many processed foods often contain gluten including sausages, gravies, sauces and soy sauce. Some people are also sensitive to oats as the protein is similar to gluten.

Choosing gluten-free food
People with coeliac disease generally understand what is right for their diet, but if you are looking after young people with the condition then you need to understand their needs too.

There are many naturally gluten-free foods such as:

meat*
poultry*
fish*
cheese
milk
fruit
potatoes
vegetables
pulses
rice
corn (maize).

* Note:  Breaded or battered items (e.g. fish fingers, chicken nuggets) and processed meats (e.g. burgers and sausages) are usually not suitable.

There are many mainstream foods you can give to someone with coeliac disease, as long as you know how to read the label information.The main thing to know is that you must check the ingredients list for any mention of wheat, barley, rye or oats. For more information visit www.coeliac.org.uk/labels.

You can also buy gluten-free ‘substitute’ foods like flour, oats, bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes, etc., from the Free From aisles of your supermarket, online or from health food shops.

Food labelling

If you see food labelled as ‘gluten-free’ (a term which is covered by law, meaning that the product contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten), you may well also see the Crossed Grain symbol. Food products that have this symbol on the packaging are gluten-free and suitable for people with coeliac disease.

You may also see the term ‘no gluten-containing ingredients’. This is a term that isn’t covered by international law, but where foods that are made with ingredients that don’t contain gluten and where good cross contamination controls are in place.  Check with the individual or parents/carers what they are comfortable with.

If something is labelled as ‘may contain cereals’, it will contain gluten, unless otherwise labelled.

Coeliac UK’s Food and Drink Directory lists around 10,000 products that you can include in a gluten-free diet and is a real support when learning to shop gluten-free.  This is available by purchasing Membership of Coeliac UK or can be purchased separately. Members also have access to a Smartphone app Gluten-free on the Move which gives you the Food and Drink Directory on your phone plus a barcode scanner to help you shop.


Practical tips for supporting Members with coeliac disease

Appropriate snacks

Catering for camps/nights away

Adapting activities and badges related to food/cooking


This resource was created in partnership with Coeliac UK.
 




Further information on Coeliac UK

Coeliac UK is the leading charity working for people with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). The charity campaigns for change, researches the condition and provides support for those affected.

Those interested in the condition can pay a small fee to join and receive support and essential information from the Charity, including:

For more information visit www.coeliac.org.uk or call Coeliac UK's Helpline at 0845 305 2060 (open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm).

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