In this week’s edition of the Coeliac Spotlight we’ll be throwing some quick-fire questions at Rebecca Oxtoby, the young blogger behind Gluten Freak Abroad. It’s clear from reading her blog that, like many of the young Coeliacs we come across, she’s passionate about awareness of the disease, making her the perfect candidate for the spotlight…
Many people don’t find out they have the disease until long after the symptoms first present themselves. How old were you at the time of your diagnosis?
I’ve been suffering with symptoms (polycystic ovarian syndrome, bloating, migraines, psoriasis) since I was 16, then formally diagnosed after a long battle in April 2015, aged 24.
Eight years undiagnosed, that must’ve been difficult! Have you found things have changed much from when you were first diagnosed to the present day?
I’ve been lucky really. My diagnosis has coincided with the gluten free “fad” diets, meaning that general awareness and availability of GF food has been good. It could definitely be improved, but on the whole I manage to eat out and can find some decent sweet treats in the supermarkets, even if they are three times the price!
Now, we all have that one thing that we long for post-diagnosis. What’s yours?
Honestly, I miss a good bacon butty or buttered toast in the morning! GF bread just doesn’t cut it!
Agreed – although our chef does whip up a pretty mean loaf for the office when he’s in a good mood! Anywhere you’d recommend for dinner on our next visit to Merseyside?
There are some great restaurants in Liverpool. Jam Liverpool provides amazing gluten free afternoon tea, and Trattoria 51 offer the tastiest pizzas, and they completely understand allergens!
We’ve said this a number of times in previous blogs but we LOVE a chef that truly gets the importance of good GF menu options – we’ll certainly be trying that place out next time! So what spurred you on to join the world of blogging?
Firstly, I like to rant! It’s liberating being able to get your thoughts out there, and for me there was definitely a lack of reviews for gluten free products abroad from coeliacs. Restaurants were listed as gluten free but when I arrived they would have very little choice or awareness. I wanted to use my blog as a way to highlight the gems I’d found on my travels, (and back home!) to and bring them to the masses.
Okay so to finish off…any last words of wisdom for people recently diagnosed?
It’ll be ok! Use the support on twitter and at support groups, we really are a little family. Secondly, tell your family what snacks you enjoy, and where from, so they can stock up. That way when you visit they have something for you. That was the hardest bit for me, when I felt like the odd one out. Try to find naturally gluten free foods to save on cost, and treat yourself to the amazing gluten free products from too good to be gluten free!
Oh stop it…you’re going to make us blush!
Interested to find out more about Rebecca and her experiences with the disease? Check out her blog: www.glutenfreakabroad.blogspot.co.uk or alternatively find her over on Twitter at www.twitter.com/coeliacabroad