'It was during my first year at University when I first began having symptoms of Coeliac Disease. I never seemed to have an issue with my tummy before this. All of a sudden I was having such bad stomach pains as well as having to rush to the toilet after most meals. I also noticed being constantly exhausted, however at the time I put this down to my student lifestyle of constantly socialising. I was getting so tired, falling asleep in lectures and spending most of the day sleeping, which really wasn't healthy. As I was a student, my diet was based on pizza, pasta and beer, with one thing in common...Gluten. I went to the doctors about it and was told it was IBS, although the doctor did blood tests on me to check just in case. The blood test came back positive so I was referred to get a biopsy. This was probably the worst part of the process. It was such an uncomfortable procedure, but it was definitely worth it. Getting the results back to confirm that I was in fact Coeliac was quite a relief, since finally I knew what the problem was. In the beginning, after finding out I was Coeliac, I was so worried about what I couldn’t eat anymore, and was thinking it was really going to be quite a struggle, but in reality it wasn't. The first month or two was definitely a learning curve. Learning that you do not need to buy every single thing from the gluten free section, since a lot of foods are actually already gluten free. The main struggle for me was takeaways. I love my takeaways, but I just stayed away from them, as I tried one Chinese which claimed to make 'gluten free honey chilli chicken'.. but my tummy said otherwise. After that, I didn't trust another takeaway for months, but slowly built up trust in other places from speaking to fellow coeliacs. They gave me recommendations for places which take great care in having gluten free options. This actually gave me great inspiration to write up blogs on where to eat in my local town and in Belfast, to help out other newbie coeliacs in not being afraid of eating out or ordering Takeaways. The advice I would give to someone with Coeliac Disease is to stay positive, just remember you are doing yourself so much good being on gluten free. I know it can be annoying having to be so careful with what you eat and where you eat, but I definitely think it is worth it.'
Author credit: Francesca Mckee