There may now be more gluten-free products in the supermarket aisles, but awareness of the realities of coeliac disease remains incredibly low.
Coeliac UK estimates only 24 per cent of people who are coeliac have actually been clinically diagnosed.
Although receiving a diagnosis is a relief to many, there are still many misconceptions that those of us who are gluten-free have to listen to on a daily basis.
Here are ten of the most ridiculous myths we’ve all heard about coeliac disease.
1. It’s an allergy
This may seem like a harmless misconception, but coeliac disease is not an allergy or an intolerance.
It’s an autoimmune disease, whereby the body attacks the immune system in the presence of gluten.
So, no, antihistamines really won’t help.
2. It’s cured instantly
Once switching to gluten-free, people often think you’re instantly better whereas in fact many people take months to fully recover.
What’s more, a very small percentage of the population may have what’s known as refractory coeliac disease, which doesn’t respond to a gluten-free diet.
3. You can ‘cheat’ once in a while
You’d think it was just ignorant non-sufferers touting this myth, but actually, I’ve seen coeliacs say it too.
Coeliac disease is not a diet that you can have ‘slip-ups’ or ‘cheat days’ on.
Even if you don’t have symptoms, you will still be damaging your intestines if you eat gluten.
You can’t always count on symptoms to know that you’re jeopardising you health, and there are even people who have silent coeliac disease, which means that even though they don’t suffer any symptoms at all, the damage is happening on the inside.
4. You can grow out of it
When a coeliac has the disease under control, they’ll then test ‘negative’ for the disease (the body is not attacking as there’s no gluten in the system to react to).
However, some people take this as cure or a sign you grow out of it. Sadly, coeliac disease is for life, and there’s currently no cure.
5. You can destroy gluten at high temperatures
Usually made up by restaurant owners in a bid to get you to order food.
6. If you suspect you have coeliac disease, give up bread for a few weeks to see if it helps.
This is not a good idea if you’re planning to get tested as avoiding gluten can lead to a false negative.
In order to achieve an accurate diagnosis, doctors will advise you to eat gluten daily for a six-week period before being tested.
7. Coeliac disease just causes an upset stomach.
There are many symptoms of coeliac disease and in fact, some people might not suffer with digestive issues at all.
Symptoms can include skin issues, fatigue, nutritional deficiencies and even depression.
8. You can eat rye bread
Why is everybody obsessed with rye?
As soon as you mention you’re coeliac, people often suggest rye and spelt, despite the fact they contain gluten too.
9. We don’t eat meat
Another odd one. But often coeliacs are offered vegetarian or vegan choices.
Even though being vegan has nothing to do with being a coeliac, it’s often believed they go side by side.
10. It’s not serious
Even after eliminating gluten, patients need to regularly see a doctor and are at risk of other autoimmune diseases and nutritional deficiencies.
Coeliac is a serious disease, which can damage the lining of the gut if left untreated.
Jenna Farmer writes about coeliac disease and going gluten-free over www.abalancedbelly.co.uk