herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

A strict diet stops the stomach ache

LIZ FAVILLI happened to be working for the Coeliac Society of Ireland when she found out that she has the condition herself.

Liz (32), who is originally from Tuscany in Italy, was diagnosed in 2009. She says that nobody else in her family has coeliac as far as she knows, but she ended up going for tests having had stomach pains.

“I moved permanently to Ireland in December 2007. The first time I came here was to improve my English, and I fell in love with the country,” says Liz, who is set to marry her Irish fiance next year.

“I applied for a job with the Coeliac Society of Ireland as an administration officer. At the time, I didn't know I was a coeliac at all.”

It was stomach pains that led her to see a doctor, and at the beginning it was thought that she may have irritable bowel syndrome.

“But the stomach pains didn't go away. Someone in the Coeliac Society advised me to get the blood test done for coeliac disease, and it came up positive,” she says.

It was at that point that she went for a gastro endoscopy. “The biopsy is the gold-standard method of diagnosis. That was August 2009 and it showed that I was a coeliac.”

Prior to the diagnosis, Liz says that she “didn't have strong symptoms, but it was constant. I knew there was something wrong.”

Contamination

Once the diagnosis was made, she had to change her diet. “I started following the Society's food list, substituting the products that were not suitable with ones that were,” she says. “I also started changing things in my kitchen, for example getting my own toaster. As a coeliac, you have to be aware of the issue of cross contamination,” she says.

Making changes to her diet ensured that she was able to see the benefits. “It did solve the stomach problems quite quickly,” she says.

Liz explains that she doesn't have a big problem because she likes a Mediterranean diet of mainly meat, fish and vegetables. “Obviously, being Italian, I miss pasta,” she says. However, she says that there are good substitute pastas out there.

When she dines out, Liz prefers restaurants that cater for coeliacs. “There is a good choice of restaurants in Dublin. More people are aware of the condition now.”

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