Why Gluten Free?
Annie first tried gluten free cooking after her second child was diagnosed as having Aspergers. Another parent of an Aspie child told her about the research the University of Sunderland were doing on a gluten/casein free diet and how this improved things for many children on the autistic spectrum.
Putting a child onto a gluten free diet meant a lot of effort and research into how to make “child friendly” food. In order that he wouldn’t miss out when he went to friends’ parties, it was necessary to be able to bake tasty cakes, pizza, bread, sausage rolls, and all the other “normal” childhood foods.
Later, her third child was also diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum and so eating gluten free became a regular part of family life.
Ironically, and tragically, a year later “gluten free” became a bigger issue after Annie’s Dad became very ill in a short space of time and (too late) was diagnosed as having Coeliacs Disease. He’d had it for years without knowing. As a result he had developed T-Cell Lymphoma from the untreated Coeliacs and died just a few weeks after this was discovered. For the full story, see “Dad’s Story”.
In the wake of that shock both Annie and her brother were tested. Her brother was also found to have fully developed Coeliac Disease. Annie was told she had IBS which was “probably” aggravated by wheat – but she was not offered any testing to establish what exactly which foods were causing her problems.
In 2007 Annie had her fourth child who was intolerant from birth to wheat, dairy, soya and egg. Because she was breastfeeding him, this meant Annie had a very restricted diet for three years – bringing an even deeper understanding, appreciation and experience of catering for restrictive diets. In 2010 he was diagnosed as having Coeliac disease.
Because the three out of six of the family were now on a gluten free diet, Annie noticed more clearly that her own health issues seemed related to when she ate gluten. After a severe bout of stomach flu, it appeared that even a tiny amount of gluten triggered a painful and intense reaction. Unfortunately, not eating much gluten meant that coeliac blood tests kept coming back negative. A gluten challenge was suggested but Annie became very ill very quickly and discontinued it. Unable to have a formal diagnosis (due to the restrictions of the diagnosis process within the NHS) Annie has been told she is “at least” non-coeliac gluten intolerant and is now 100% gluten free. Her sensitivity means she cannot tolerate more than about 12ppm of gluten.
Annie’s Kitchen Blog is a place for Annie to share her experience of gluten free cooking, gluten free products, raising a gluten free family and also running a successful “underground restaurant“.
As a mother to four children, three of whom cannot have gluten, and unable to eat gluten herself, Annie knows that there are very few options for Coeliacs in the UK who wish to dine out.
Many restaurants now offer a gluten free option but sadly this is not always accompanied by a true understanding of the dangers of cross contamination. All too often a coealic will eat something they are told is “safe” only to suffer symptoms afterwards. Having a waiter remove bread from your plate at the table and saying “it’s alright now, you can eat it” is something that should be fiction – but is not. Annie is not alone in having been glutened on a number of occasions by a meal that was meant to be gluten free.
Annie set up her Supperclub in order be able to offer a safe, relaxing dining experience to coeliacs and others on a gluten free diet. The Supperclub is proud to be part of the growing underground restaurant movement in the UK.