The risk of coeliac disease increases from one in every 100 people to one in 10, when a first-degree relative has the disease. That’s according to the Coeliac Society of Ireland, which today launched its annual Awareness Week.
Coeliac Awareness Week 2018, which is supported by Ireland’s leading grocery retailer SuperValu, takes place nationwide from May 14-20, 2018.
This year, the Coeliac Society of Ireland are highlighting the impact of coeliac disease on families, and in particular, children. A number of events will be taking place during Awareness Week, including a series of in-store events at SuperValu stores around Ireland, featuring dietetic talks, advice from the Coeliac Society of Ireland and gluten-free food samplings.
Commenting on the launch today, Mary Twohig, Chairperson of the Coeliac Society of Ireland, said: “It’s not a fad or a lifestyle choice, it is a serious, lifelong condition. If undiagnosed, people with coeliac disease could develop osteoporosis, anaemia, nerve damage and it can have negative impacts on fertility.”
She added, “If people are suffering from symptoms we want them to be aware that if a first-degree relative has coeliac disease, their own chances of having the disease are increased to one in ten. It’s also important to note that some people with the disease experience no symptoms but internal damage is still taking place. We advise anyone with a first blood relative diagnosed as coeliac to discuss testing with their GP.”
Ms Twohig stressed the importance of family support, “A diagnosis of coeliac disease can be a difficult adjustment but with some planning and family support it’s possible to live a full and healthy life.”
“We would encourage friends and family of a person diagnosed as coeliac to learn a little about the disease so that those diagnosed don’t feel left out of family occasions,” she shared.
Top tips for hosting a coeliac guest at your home include:
Discuss what you plan to cook with your coeliac guest (or their parent, if it’s a child) in advance. Often a meal can be made gluten free with some minor tweaks.
Cook gluten-free food separately, if using a deep fat fryer ensure the oil is changed if it was previously used to cook a gluten-containing food. If using a toaster, try toaster bags to ensure gluten-free bread is not contaminated.
Sharing is not always caring where a coeliac guest is concerned. For example, using the same butter knife for standard and gluten-free bread could make your guest ill. Allow your guest to serve themselves first at a buffet meal to avoid cross-contamination. Providing a separate dish for butter or dips is also a good idea.”
It is estimated to affect 47,500 people in Ireland.