Around one in seventy Australians have coeliac disease, however only 20% have been diagnosed. Coeliac disease involves an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in some cereal products. It is diagnosed with a small bowel biopsy. Coeliac disease causes damage to the small intestine leading to a decrease in nutrient absorption. The symptoms include tiredness, gastrointestinal upset and iron deficiency anaemia.
Eating well with coeliac disease
People with coeliac disease can enjoy a varied and nutritious range of foods. Once diagnosed with coeliac disease, food choices need to be gluten free.
Gluten free grains and cereals
- Rice and wild rice
Naturally gluten free foods
- Vegetables, lentils and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy, eggs and meat, poultry and fish
Packaged foods that are labelled Gluten Free.
Cereals and grains containing gluten
- Oats (for some people)
Modifying your recipes for coeliac disease
The main foods that people struggle with when they first find out that they have coeliac disease are bread, pasta and flour replacements. There are a number of gluten free breads and pastas available. Recipes that use nut meals, chickpea flour, rice flour, buckwheat and amaranth make baking more interesting.
I also recommend seeking out cuisines that are traditionally gluten free, such as Asian curries and stir-fries, Mexican and Indian foods. Traditional European meals that are based on lentils and legumes add variety, and can be made gluten free. Using a variety of herbs and spices also adds colour and flavour to your foods.
Gluten free meal ideas
- Buckwheat or chickpea flour pancakes
- Rice and quinoa muesli or porridge
- Gluten free toast
- Quinoa or rice salad with lentils
- Gluten free rice paper rolls: filled with crispy salads with tofu, tempe, chicken or beef
- Gluten free toast with pumpkin soup
- Fragrant yellow curry or Mexican beans and vegetables with rice
- Mixed steam vegetables and grilled meat
- Minestrone soup
- Fresh fruit
- Mixed nuts and seeds
- Almond meal banana bread
The challenge for people with coeliac disease is finding replacements for wheat, rye, barley, oats and other gluten containing cereals and grains. Other nutritional requirements stay the same—base food choices on plant foods with smaller amounts of animal foods such as dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Eating mindfully will assist you in establishing a way of eating that suits you. Seek advice from an accredited practising dietitian to increase your confidence in choosing a balanced and enjoyable range of foods.
Additional resources for coeliac disease