6 Life Hacks For Coping With A Gluten Free And Low Fibre Diet

“Christ, will we ever eat out again?” my actual reaction to the GP’s somber delivery of the news that our 5 year old’s recent blood test indicated Coeliac Disease.  A reaction you might consider selfish (I could visualise yet another ‘X’ being struck through a social event on our “Dogs In Hilarious Poses” family calendar).  Let me throw a little background in here before I’m ostracized for life from the Coeliac Society on my maiden voyage into the world of blogging.

 

 

You see my Husband has Crohns Disease – which is majorly shit (excuse the pun!)  It’s pretty tricky with 2 young children and there are a million topics I could write on this subject (initial thoughts; “The Beige Diet”, “Soft Play Areas – A Suicide Mission”, “Vitamin Infusions – Train Spotting style highs for the digestively impaired”, “5 ways to entertain kids whilst sat on the loo”). But this is about how the hell we manage a Gluten Free diet with a Low Fiber one so I’ll save those topics for another time.  I distinctly recall that very first mid-wife appointment after we’d discovered I was pregnant.  We sat in the Dr’s surgery and he asked the question I knew had been on his mind since the moment we’d discovered I was pregnant; “Is Crohns hereditary?”  To hear the answer “No” was music to our ears – so to receive the news, 5 years on, that she had Coeliac Disease was devastating.

 

 

So how do we manage a gluten free diet (the only treatment currently available for Coeliac Disease) with the low fiber diet my husband is on?  Well, it’s not been easy – especially with my juvenile kitchen skills! To give you a gauge of my culinary expertise the health visitor came to visit us when our daughter was 6 months old to give advice on  weening (the main info I took from this meeting was the terrifying choking hazards associated with eating grapes and that Raisins, even though dried fruit, were in fact like tiny little teeth rotters!) she said “It’s quite simple really, just blend up whatever you have and spoon feed her that” – when I expressed my concern at the nutritional value of last nights frozen pizza and chips (Tuesday had been fish finger sandwiches/chips and Wednesday; chicken nuggets and chips) she agreed that perhaps steaming veg sticks would be the best way forward (cue introduction of a peeler into our cutlery drawer).

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite obsessive about my kids eating a balanced diet of veg, protein and carbs but managing this alongside my husbands requirement to eat as little fiber (ie shit loads of beige food to ‘bung’ him up) as possible makes the daily ritual of preparing, cooking and serving up food something I began to dread (“Why does Daddy get chips and bread with his and I have to eat this stuff”….Brocolli!)

 

 

I did what we all do in our hour of need and turned to the internet for support.  Sure, there are loads of articles and blogs on eating a gluten free diet, even a couple aimed at kids, but most offered ‘helpful’ solutions in the form of recipes – most of which included Xanthum Gum (WTF) and the purchase of A LOT of really expensive ingredients.  I wanted some honesty, someone I could connect too who said “actually this is really crappy sometimes and here’s what I give my family when A; we don’t have time to cook from scratch, B; don’t have the money to buy expensive GF products”.  And in all truth, what I was looking for was someone to say “It’s OK to just sit and cry, loose your shit, look to the heavens and ask “why us”?  I wanted to know that I wasn’t a failure by doing all these things rather than reacting to (another) auto-immune disease in the family by running to the kitchen to bake bread!  By the way if you are that person, sat crying, feeling like life has dealt you and your brood one too many bum cards to handle – now isn’t the time to try the Xantham Gum – just watch Netflix and eat the remaining gluten filled products in your cupboard and you’ll feel differently in the morning, I promise.  

 

 

I have tried.  I’ve lost count of the amount of meals I’ve lovingly prepared, hopeful that this would be a family favourite I could churn out week after week but most have been received with moans and groans “This is really spicy”, “What’s that green stuff” (Kale), “Can I have no sauce on mine” (FYI it’s impossible to get the sauce out of a chicken casserole).

 

 

So we’ve had no choice but to adapt and learn.  I’m still a terrible cook but I’m getting better – slowly!  So here they are; Our Top 6 Life Hacks to cope with a gluten free/low fibre diet (I feel like I should pop a little disclaimer in here as the nutritional value associated to these tips has not been checked by a professional and you’re probably better off cooking from scratch but hay, there’s not always time for Xanthum Gum!) –

 

1;  Check what you’re entitled to on prescription.  Not every CCG is the same (I learnt this the hard way after getting all excited at the Coeliac UK’s “Prescribable Products” list which includes breakfast cereals, pizza bases and biscuits only to be told by our GP that we were basically allowed a packet of flour and some bread once a month)
(Baking with prescription flour…
check me out!)

 

 

2; Plan ahead – I spend around 2 hours a week writing a meal plan and shopping list to make sure that each night we have the food in the kitchen to make sure we’re all fed.  There’s no getting away from it, this is a tedious job made all the more easier by drinking wine whilst doing it (thinking about it you could probably do this in 30 min’s if sober!)

 

 

3; Buy a slow cooker ( heres a link to ours).  We have 2 kids and work and sometimes don’t get home until late.  A family favourite is beef casserole (already prepared veg, diced beef and GF Beef Gravy).  My husband picks out the veg (too much fiber!) and bangs a load of frozen chips in the oven to bulk it out.  Kids have frozen (GF) Yorkshires with theirs – 4 mins in the oven thank you very much!

 

 

4; Toaster Bags are fab to prevent cross-contamination if you use normal bread in the kitchen too – which lets face it if we all ate GF bread we’d need to re-mortgage.  It means we can make our NHS prescription bread last that bit longer if put straight in the freezer! we’ve been using these ones

 

 

5; Kids parties are tricky – don’t get me wrong parents are often prepared to provide food for her so that she doesn’t feel left out but the reality is that kids share food/plates/cups and lets face it

(Batman – the saviour of all
kids parties.)

organising kids parties are stressful enough without freaking out that you’re going to unintentionally poison the Coeliac in the room!  So we bought a “super mega cool” (her words) Bat Man packed lunch box especially for such occasions and she takes her own.

 

(I think I love Aunt Bessie as much
as I love my actual Aunties)

6; Lots of stuff is actually GF without advertising it.  As you may have gathered, our family is partial to a good frozen chip!  Some have coatings on which contain gluten, however lots are fine and don’t have the same price tag associated to ‘Free From’ products.  Our favourites are Aunt Bessies (which are available at pretty much all super markets now).

 

 

 

So there we have it.  Not exactly revolutionary or ground breaking but just a few things we’ve learnt in this first 6 months since Peggys diagnosis.  We’ve got so much more to learn….probably a few mistakes along the way….a lifetime of conversations about bowel movements (“Have you been?”, “Do you know where the loos are?”, “Did you pack some loo roll?”, “Does your bum hurt?”, “What colour was it?”) but hay, sharing is caring!

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “6 Life Hacks For Coping With A Gluten Free And Low Fibre Diet

  1. Hi Becky – good to meet you. I was directed here from a question I posted on the MSE website which your friend sm1971 (?) recommended. I face a similar battle. My gorgeous, lively 21 year old daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease about 5 years ago. She subsequently developed colitis which ended up in her having ilesotomy surgery last September. We had done well with the coeliac disease – understanding the sneaky places gluten hides – finding foods that are free from even if not labelled as such but also avoiding fibre is a double whammy. We are doing ok. Jess has been an amazing warrior – so much so that rather than miss a year at uni she has kept with her cohort. It hasn't been easy but we are getting there. I am loving your blog – humour in dark moments hey and will continue reading your posts. Thanks for taking the time to write it.Shirley

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  2. Shirley thank you for taking the time to write. Jess sounds like an inspirational young lady! I hoped that by writing about our families experiences of Coeliac and Crohns disease it would enable us to connect with others in a similar position – so to read your message has made my day thank you! Please do stay in touch and massive thanks for continuing to read my rantings. Becky x

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