The Story of a Coeliac
My free from journey started when I was in my late teens, I have always been a very active person and I absolutely love working out at the gym. However, as time went on I was referred to a specialist in Leeds as I was suffering hugely from bloating, vomiting, severe tiredness and hives all over my skin, I was previously told I had IBS but I had a feeling that this wasn’t the problem.
The instance the specialist saw my skin condition he immediately had me tested for coeliac diseases (blood test and endoscopy) and other food allergies and shortly after I was diagnosed with coeliac and a lactose intolerance. This is when my whole life changed, and not just mine but also my family had to adapt and learn and so did my friends. I am really lucky that I have been bought up through generations of home cooked food, everything that my mum makes is from scratch therefore she could easily adapt a lot of dishes for me, it is just the hidden ingredients we weren’t aware of when I was first diagnosed, this includes soya sauce. At the time of being diagnosed, no supermarkets stocked a free from range, let alone labeled items with allergens in bold, however this meant that my diet dramatically changed, it made me think about food a lot more, what I was eating, what was in my food and how to be more creative.
Shortly after my diagnosis I moved to Dubai where I lived for 5 years, this was going to be one of my biggest challenges yet. The service industry in Dubai is mainly run by Indians and Filipinos and there was often huge language barriers, I can’t even tell you how many times I had to send food back and how many times I didn’t eat as I felt so unconfident. The positive of this experience was that I really felt that everywhere I went I began to teach people around me, what I could and couldn’t eat, that just removing a piece of bread from my meal wasn’t acceptable, educating on ingredients and it started to make me feel proud that people were learning and this would help others in the future.
I moved back to the UK in February 2015 to live with my boyfriend, whom I met whilst living in Dubai, and after a very romantic year long journey I decided to move back and start our life together in Brighton. My boyfriend like many others at the time didn’t understand what coeliac disease was and has learnt so much, he double checks things are safe for me every time I order, he is so knowledgeable on food content now and like me has become a serial label checker!
When I moved back to the UK, my passion for cooking really set in, I became excited about making new things, experimenting and proving to all my family and friends that cooking gluten and lactose free could taste just as good, and in my opinion better. I started to develop my own recipes as well as adapting family recipes that we have had for years.
I have always been very quiet about my coeliac and lactose intolerance, when I was diagnosed people didn’t understand, a lot of people thought I was making it up, some thought I was being fussy and this has made me want to talk openly about it now I am older, wiser and confident in myself. I enjoy sharing my story and speaking at conferences, in the free from and allergy world I have learnt that sharing is caring, and more importantly sharing helps others.
On a trip to Amsterdam in 2014 with my boyfriend, we really struggled, although now I know there is lots of places with gluten/lactose free options, I couldn’t find anywhere on a Google search where I could eat. I got very upset on this holiday, I just wanted to feel like I could go out and eat a proper meal. This really made me think, how great would it be to have an app that would help you find places to eat, not only in the UK, but abroad. There is some wonderful gluten free restaurant search apps out there but what happens if you have lactose intolerance, what happens if you were a gluten free vegetarian…this really got me thinking and this is how Biteappy turned from a dream into a reality.
I always wanted to help others in the world who have been in situations like myself when it comes to eating out, I also wanted to share all my delicious recipes with others, help people get back into the kitchen to cook good, homemade and healthy food, which is why I created my app, website and blog. The most rewarding thing about creating Biteappy is the amount of people who have told me either via email or at events that I attend that I have changed their lives, whether it be to help them eat out again or to get back into the kitchen and feel more confident with cooking. I feel very lucky that I have been able to turn my own life experience into a very positive business that helps people all over the world, and I feel blessed that I have a had this opportunity and the support from my loving family, friends and my boyfriend.
Download Biteappy for free from Google Play or App Store or visit the website www.biteappy.com
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