Eating out, an everyday challenge for those with coeliac disease

Eating out, an everyday challenge for those with coeliac disease

For most of us, the hardest decision to make when eating out is usually deciding where to go. For someone with coeliac disease however, choices are a lot more limited and sufferers have to make sure there are food choices available at restaurants to cater to their needs. 

Coeliac disease is not a food allergy, it is an autoimmune disease which means that those who have it cannot eat anything containing gluten. Unfortunately for sufferers, there is no cure, they must simply abide by a lifelong strict gluten-free diet. According to information in a Coeliac UK press release which was issued on 19thMarch 2019, there are half a million people in the UK living unknowingly with coeliac disease. 

On the website for the charity, Coeliac UK, there is a section called ‘Eating out’. This section offers advice for those with the disease to take when eating out in restaurants whilst abiding by a gluten free diet. One of the sub-headings of advice is labelled “communicate with the waiting staff”. This section instructs those with coeliac disease to explain to the waiter that they cannot eat gluten as soon as they arrive at the restaurant. They also advise in this section to be careful of certain foods as they may be fried in the same oil as products that contain gluten.

Someone who stuck to this advice is lifestlye blogger and YouTuber Becky Sheeran, 31, from Nottingham. As a coeliac, Becky describes how she has always taken precautions to prevent becoming ill from food containing gluten. “As a coeliac, I am always incredibly careful with how I eat out and always check with the manager or waitress,” she said, “I tell them I’m coeliac and ask to see an allergies menu. I think most people with allergies are extremely careful too.” 

However, Becky was furious as she recently became ill after ordering halloumi fries at the Trent Bridge branch of the chain of Wetherspoons restaurants, despite taking the steps to check with the waitress that they were gluten free. Becky started to feel ill and was shocked as she was told by the manager that their staff have no training and he was entirely unaware of what being a coeliac entailed. 

A furious Becky took to her Twitter account, ‘TalkBeckyTalk’, after contacting Wetherspoons by phone, and receiving an email from the company confirming that the halloumi fries are cooked in a fryer with vegetarian products containing gluten. In regard to raising the issue Becky said, “I hope by speaking out it does one of two things. I hope it forces that restaurant to change the way they prepare their food. If they are making money off people they should have to take responsibility for this”. 

Another coeliac who fell ill after eating the halloumi fries dish at a Wetherspoons chain was Vicki Willcox, 51, of Whitecroft, St Albans. “I had the halloumi fries about 3 weeks ago and I was ill from them. They are advertised as gluten free, which they are in ingredients, but I have since found out they are fried in the same oil as battered items”. 

Vicki was diagnosed with coeliac disease over 10 years ago, and explains how adapting to eating out was hard to start with, but says she finds it a lot less difficult now. “It is definitely much easier to eat out now than it used to be, most places offer gluten-free menus and are very vigilant”. Despite falling ill from the same product that caused Becky to become ill, Vicki says she would still return to Wetherspoons as her other experiences of going there have all been positive. 

Eddie Gershon, the spokesman for Wetherspoons, said “the halloumi fries are gluten-free. There is no error on the menu or in the allergy folders. No ingredients used contain gluten and the product has been tested after frying and falls within the gluten 20 parts per million legal guidelines.” 

Ashleigh Butcher, 22, is a student dietician at Coventry University. Growing up with type one diabetes, and also finding out she had coeliac disease at age 12, sparked Ashleigh to pursue the career path that she has chosen. “I never eat at Wetherspoons, as I am quite a food snob,” said Ashleigh, “but it would put me off eating there. I have seen a lot of bad press about the halloumi fries, so I definitely wouldn’t go and try them. There are lots of other places to eat which have better gluten free options such as gluten free pastas and burgers, not just places that only offer food which is naturally gluten free.” 

Ashleigh also explains how she utilises social media to check if somewhere is safe for her to eat before she pays a visit there. She said, “I always check online if a gluten free menu is available before I go anywhere. If not, I usually message the place on Instagram asking for more details”. 

Following the negative experience Becky Sheeran had, she also found out via Twitter that other coeliacs had encountered similar experiences whilst dining at Wetherspoons. “If the restaurant doesn’t follow guidelines, people are going to get ill. I don’t think that this will change the way coeliacs eat out in terms of asking questions, but I definitely think it will put a lot of people off eating there.” She also added, “the company have had a 19% drop in profits, and if I was them I would be looking more at keeping customers than losing them.” 

Coeliac UK aims to raise awareness, by hosting events such as Coeliac UK Awareness Week. The dedicated week to the disease is taking place this year from 13th-19thMay. The charity is hoping that this week will make people question whether the symptoms they are having could be coeliac disease. They have an online assessment people can complete which can inform them whether they should be tested for coeliac disease or not. Their main aim is to help people get diagnosed with the disease. 

Mad For Melons!

Hello and welcome back to my blog!

I thought I would hop on here to talk about and share with you a fabulous body collection that I have come across recently when shopping at Boots.

When shopping for a new body wash, I came across the SkinnyDip body care range stocked at Boots. I've always loved SkinnyDip products- their fun and vibrant style is something that has always drawn me in and although I knew they made phone cases and makeup bags, I never knew they did products like these.

The bright and fruity packaging is definitely something that drew me in instantaneously. If you know me well, you'll know that I am OBSESSED with anything to do with watermelons... so even though they had peach and coconut scented products, I was most definitely drawn to the watermelon range!

I walked out of Boots and resisted temptation. 

I couldn't leave Boots without making a cheeky purchase. I purchased four of the 'Melon Dollar Baby' scented products: