Dating with Coeliac Disease

When I was first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease I was just starting to go out on dates and was so worried about how long I could hold off on going for the dreaded meal date when I had no idea where I could eat!!

Now currently with the pandemic we aren’t really able to go out and have dates but it doesn’t mean we can’t plan them, right? So I thought what better time to share my Top 4 restaurants and Top 5 non food related date ideas, then now when we are all excited for a date night with the other half outside the house or desperate to finally go on a date with that special someone who’s kept you sane during lockdown!!

I would like to add that you will find the restaurants listed aren’t solely Gluten Free restaurants. This is due to my fiancé being able to eat gluten as he doesn’t have any intolerances, but also as I am the only person in our immediate families and friends who has any dietary restrictions. I have included menus where I can, these should take you directly to the Restaurants websites where you can check for your local one and what they offer, as some locations have differences to the menus.

My Top 4 Fav Restaurants for Date Night

Miller & Carter – Somewhere fancy but also relaxed in terms of the environment of the restaurant itself. With Miller & Carter you can dress up a little without having to go fully suited and booted (unless you really want to). The bar area is a great place to meet if you’re travelling separately, and they have a great selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks too! Now their Gluten Free menu, the reason why we are here, is so identical to their main menu that only you, your date and the staff will know that you’ve ordered gluten free. This was a massive thing for me when I was first settling into the new diet, as I didn’t want to look “awkward” or “weird”. From my experiences, staff are alway so clued up on what Coeliac Disease is and how to handle your food. Which is so reassuring! I have ate both their steaks and their chicken, with and without the iconic onion loaf (I’m sorry if you have an onion intolerance, I couldn’t help myself as I love it so much)! Everything has been carefully prepared, cooked and brought to me, and I have felt so relaxed eating there that we still use this as a date night or even a go to for family members birthday meals.

https://www.millerandcarter.co.uk/gluten-free-menu

Zizzi’s – This was actually the first restaurant I actually ate in with my fiancé, and he the clever person that he is was the one who told me I could eat here! Best news I ever received, as I love Italian food. They keep their menu for allergens as up to date as they do their main menu, including seasonal updates. The thing with Zizzi’s that makes it a good date place is you have the choice to dress up like you do at Miller & Carter, but you can also have a lunch time date and keep it a little more casual. The environment is always friendly and Also if you aren’t feeling Pasta or Pizza they do delicious salads and fish dishes. Zizzi’s also offer vegan and non-gluten items which is perfect if you have other intolerances alongside gluten! They also have incredible drinks, a personal favourite of mine is the raspberry and mint cooler, so I am very excited to try their new orange and watermelon one!! What I have experienced when eating at Zizzi’s is that when you order from the non-gluten menu they will be asked if its an allergen or preference. When you state allergen they will ask what it is, this is solely for your safety and also theirs, so they can ensure that you are only provided with food that is safe for you and you are not misguided. The staff are also very clued up and are able to answer any questions! A perfect example of this was when I went for my works Christmas Meal there, and they gave me a brownie that looked like a few of my colleagues. I double checked with the waitress and she informed me that the brownie across their menus is naturally gluten free as it doesn’t contain any flour which is why it looked identical to my colleagues. I trusted her, ate it and had no reaction at all!

https://www.zizzi.co.uk/menus/full-menu/non-gluten

Hickories – Now Hickories do have amazing cocktails, mocktails and proper Southern style drinks including amazing ice teas! But my favourite thing about Hickories is that you can dress as casual as you like and even go on a double date! My biggest advice with Hickories is to not eat anything big for lunch if you are going on the evening, purely because their portion sizes are decent and you will have a massive menu to pick from! Starters, mains, sides and deserts! What more could you want?! Hickories is a good, American style bbq place that is also family friendly. We have been with friends on a double date, my parents and with my parents and brother for birthdays! The staff at Hickories follow strict guidelines from the government, which means when you order a manager should come over to you and confirm that what you’ve ordered is safe for your intolerance/coeliac disease. They should then also bring your food out with a little flag in, but the flag doesn’t identify an allergy like what you would see at Nandos. If this doesn’t happen, don’t be afraid to double check with the manager that your food has been prepared safely. I have been to Hickories properly 3 times in total, and only once have we had to question it. They were so apologetic for it and even went and triple checked with the chef that the food was safe for me, and it made me feel cared for which for me is important when dealing with such a big dietary requirement.

Non-Gluten Menu

Prezzo – Another great Italian restaurant, Prezzo really feels like a intimate restaurant! Even when busy there is a sense of everyone is there for there own experience, there is no fear of people watching. Something that makes a first date/first food date venue more relaxing. It’s also a great place for meeting each others friends for the first time, due to the intimacy of the tables and the relaxed environment. Prezzo’s gluten free menu is very similar to their main menu, with identical dishes, however it does look very different as the size of the menu paper itself is so drastically different. Why their main menu is so large I don’t know, but the food and the service makes up for it! My favourite menu items have got to be the meatball starter, the garlic bread and the carbonara pasta bake! Followed by the delicious Citrus Cooler cocktail, which is so refreshing yet has the right level of tangy to it I always order it! We enjoy prezzo because you can also go for a lunch time date not just evening, and we have also go with friends and family (on different occasions including birthdays and telling our friends we were expecting a baby). Why I enjoy it as a coeliac is down to the professionalism, the feeling of being included and that my food isn’t an issue to them to prepare. Now I haven’t experienced many places that make me feel like its an issue, but Prezzo is definitely one of those restaurants that just make you feel very cared for naturally. Something I value as someone with such a serious issue based around food and my health.
I have included the link to their website as you will need to check your local restaurant for items and prices, however, when I checked our local menu it appears to be a reduced one. I can only assume this is in relation to covid-19.

https://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/menus/

My Top 5 Non Food Related Date Ideas

Live Performance – Music, Theatre, Comedians; Now my fiancé is not one for the theatre and I haven’t seen a comedian live. However, we are both very into the music scene and love going to gigs/concerts! We have so far managed to go to The 1975, LANY, Halsey (that was definitely more for me haha) and have plans for many more in the future when things get back up and running. My favourite thing about these types of dates is that they are so low key and relaxed, that it doesn’t matter if you are a fan or not, and they also give you a little more of an insight into one and other without it feeling like an intrusive round of 21 questions.

Cinema – Everyman; Now where we live we are quite lucky to have an Everyman cinema and a “standard” cinema very close to us. Our favourite thing about the Everyman is you get to sit on a sofa together, have a table to put your drink and snacks and the food there looks incredible! Now I, as a coeliac, cannot eat anything other than the popcorn and a few of the snacks in the chocolate department. However, I personally don’t enjoy eating burgers in the cinema. The cinema is such a nice relaxed date, that you can whack whatever outfit on! I personally love a good jean and top combo from a bloat friendly wardrobe (- you need to check out the hashtag mybloatedwardrobe on instagram started by The Tummy Diaries, the inspo on there is unreal!), and you can meet there like 30 minutes beforehand as they have a lovely seating area and do great drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, as well as hot and cold!

Day trip to another city – We’ve done this a few times now, including going to a Free From Event in Oxford. This may be something more when you are both comfortable with each other, or as a date day when you’re already in a relationship, but either way its such a good experience! Whether you drive or get public transport, you are in the company of each other all day yet there is no pressure to do anything too extravagant or fancy, unless you really want to. We have been to Nottingham and Oxford a few times, and have also been to London for the weekend (which I know is a bit different to a day trip), where we have looked round the shops or explored the town centre just taking in the scenery. We have included going for food in these, but you really don’t have too. You could visit museums, local landmarks such as castles or nature parks. If you did want to incorporate food, but not a restaurant, you could organise a picnic that you pack and look after. Easy way to have safe foods for you without feeling awkward or like a nuisance.

Ghetto Golf / Crazy Golf – We actually have only done a crazy golf styled date once when we went to Oxford for the weekend, but, before Lockdown happened we were looking into going to Ghetto Golf as I have never been. Similar to going to an arcade, it is so much fun going to crazy golf! You don’t have to be into golf or even be good at it to go, you get to laugh at the scores/the shots/the set up of the hole your’e at. With places like Ghetto golf, you can add cocktails/mocktails to the mix, and there are no children so it can often be more funnier as there are more ‘adult’ decorations to have a laugh at. Although, I do hear there is a clown room in Ghetto Golf, so if like me clowns are not your thing, be very prepared!! Again this is an activity date you can do as a pair, with couple friends, or even a perfect mate date with the girls/boys! A bit of friendly competition never hurt did it 😉

Bowling & Arcades; If you are looking for a bit of fun and some friendly competition you can do this as a couple or add a few couple friends and make it a double/triple date! Visiting the Bowling alley and Arcades is such a timeless date, they are often in one location and can be quite cheap too! With bowling I will say book a few games, we did it just the two of us and two games went so quickly we ended up going to the cinema too! Which to be honest, was a really good date overall, and was our second ever date! My favourite thing about these date nights is getting to have a laugh, its the least embarrassing as you will both be bad at something if not the same thing and it is just all about being in the moment. You’ll end up with some really good memories too! We still laugh about how we thought two games for just the two of us would be enough.

Some of these may not be to your taste, but sometimes a date you have never done before or would never do can be so much fun! Even if you never do it again…

I would love to hear some of your date ideas too, please feel free to share what’s your favourite type of date! If you try one of these date ideas, let me know how you found it!

With love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

The Start to my Coeliac Journey…

My diagnosis of Coeliac Disease was a massive shock! I had no idea what Coeliac Disease was, that it was being tested for or even that I had been struggling with a dietary problem for so long!

In January 2018 I was referred to Rheumatology for an assessment regarding issues I was having with my joints. During my assessment I was advised I would need to go through a number of tests including a blood test to check my Thyroid, for Rheumatoid Arthritis and my vitamin levels.

Roll forward to a couple of weeks and I was sat in my GP being told I have Coeliac Disease, low Vit D and told what the next steps were. What a learning curve this was going to be for myself and my family.

To say I was confused is an understatement. I’d always struggled with my weight, but I had never been underweight (only as a baby in the first few months) and didn’t have the generic symptoms my GP had mentioned. Had they got it wrong? Turns out massively that they definitely hadn’t!

In May 2018 I had my Endoscopic Biopsy (basically a camera sent down your throat to take a biopsy of your small intestine and gut), which required eating gluten containing food for a week to avoid a false negative. I originally thought, amazing I can eat everything I’ve been missing the last three months! Oh boy was I wrong… After half a day of eating gluten containing food I looked 5 months pregnant, was in serve pain and couldnt wait to go back to eating gluten free food!

It’s safe to say my biopsy came back confirming Coeliac Disease and since the biopsy was done I’ve been living a Gluten Free life. I will be completely honest, it was and still is a struggle. After spending so many years eating “normal” food, there were things I missed and things that I was shocked had gluten in (like gravy!).

What I learnt very quickly about Coeliac Disease, is that everyone reacts differently. You may very well have similar symptoms to someone else, but your body is so different to another. I was sure I didn’t have Coeliac Disease in the early days, now I am 100% positive. Whether its a swollen belly, rash, sickness, very frequent toilet visits (lets be real now), please if you suspect you have an intolerance or even Coeliac Disease go to your doctors! It is not living in pain or constant illness.

I would like to add to the end of this post that I am always open to questions or for a little chat, drop a comment on this post or drop me a message on Instagram! But please remember, I am not a medical profession! I can only answer from my own experience or what I’ve researched myself or been provided by my GP and Dietitian.

with love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

Baked Oats Muffins Recipe

A breakfast favourite of mine is baked oats! This is something I first became aware of when I was following the Slimming World plan around 6ish years ago. I still use the basics of the recipe but myself and my Mom have tweaked it a little with how we serve it! Which lets face it is the most important bit…

For this recipe you will need the following;
– 40g Gluten free oats
– 50ml Soya Milk (or any milk of your choice)
– Blueberries & Blackberries (raspberries and strawberries also work
amazingly in this)
– 1 table spoon of Sweetener
– 1 Egg (or half a banana)
– Vanilla Essence (Lemon or Almond flavouring work really well with this too)

Now the fun bit! Pre heat the oven at Gas Mark 5!

1. Mix the oats, milk, sweetener and egg together in a bowl.

2. Add 1/2 tea spoon of Vanilla Essence or flavouring of choice and mix well

3. Add fruit of choice to your cases/non-stick muffin tin (this mixture makes four muffins)

5. Evenually add the mixture into your cases, and bake for 25 minutes.

6. Once baked you can either allow to cool for 5 minutes and enjoy them or allow to cool completely and pop in a sandwich box for lunch, a snack, dessert or breakfast the next day!

Now so far this is perfectly following the slimming world recipe, however I like to add a twist to it by drizzling yoghurt over the top of them and allowing them to cool so the yoghurt stiffens, or adding a drizzle of Sweet Freedom’s Choc Shot!

If you are feeling even more adventurous you could make them using poppy seeds and lemon, or carrots and almonds with a cream cheese drizzle! There are many varieties to this recipe!!

Let me know if you use this recipe and share your images with me on Instagram (@theunluckycoeliac) or in the comments below!

With love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

Relax don't…. Wait what's your arm doing?

Firstly, thank you for your patience with my absence. Secondly, blogging for me is about being honest. Sharing with you how things like music make me feel, experience and my general thoughts/opinions. Therefore this post is me being as honest as I can about why I’ve been distant from blogging and reviewing for so long. And to explain what’s been going on since December 2017.

So in December 2017 I plucked up the courage to go to the doctors, to try and get them to understand what I was dealing with. At 22 years old I had been living every day for the last 9 years with chronic pain in my knees. A chronic pain which had spread to my left shoulder, hips, wrists and fingers, ankles and toes, elbows and lower back. I am suffering with joint movement, where often my knee cap wouldn’t be in the right place, and could be visibly seen. My left arm would be much longer in appearance as my shoulder would partially dislocate. My hips would move around often resulting in serve pain. And finally they listened and referred me to a Rheumatologist!!

Along came the appointment in January 2018, where I was asked questions that if it wasn’t a doctor I would usually lie about. Had to do things like touch my toes, stretch my arms out and show how close my thumb can get to my wrist. Then the Rheumatologist confirmed I had scored 8/9 on the Beighton Score, I had severe Hypermobility and would need an Echocardiogram, MRI of my lower spine and pelvis, blood test and would be referred to a specialist Physiotherapist.

In February the results of my blood test where back. Low vitamin D levels and Coeliac Disease. That was the biggest shock, as I didn’t know it was being tested as I only knew about my Thyroid being tested. This meant a Gastroscopy was now needed and I must live a Gluten Free life. But the best news from that was no sign of any arthritis kicking in yet (as I am prone to getting it at an early age). Buzzing! Then I had my MRI & Echocardiogram done.

MRI results weren’t the best as they showed problems with discs in my spine, meaning I have things to look out for which could mean an A&E trip. But on the flip side my pelvis was okay, which was great news!

So April lead to another doctor’s trip as now my right foot was turning in. With anticipation I explained what was going on, and after an examination was referred again to another specialist who then referred me to Podiatry.

Roll on to May and I’ve had the Gastroscopy test (sedation is a very strange experience I must admit), and the results are back confirming I must live a Gluten Free diet due to having Coeliac Disease – 100% confirmed.  It is great to have confirmation that I am doing the right thing by eating Gluten Free, but even better results came back for my Echocardiogram! The results showed no problems with my heart, so at least my heart is behaving!

Physiotherapy sessions are going well with each one so far focusing on different areas of my body. There are talks of moving from exercises to physical activities to try and feel more active and like my old gym going self before the pain and dislocations got too much.
Podiatry have told me no more Converse (but I can’t part ways yet so still wear them but not as much) and high backed supportive shoes are a must! I’m still looking for a pair that I like and can wear at work as I work full time in an office and I need the support as I can often be on my feet for long periods due to being a trainer. More so I need the high back and support because I have to wear an insole in my right shoe, which makes me look wonkier than normal which is a little bit funny lmao.

With all this I have had to come to terms with a lot of things the last few months however I am now in a good place. With all these tests now nicely finished, and only regular trips to physiotherapy and podiatry, I am getting back into my routine. I am doing yoga, and looking to start cycling again (as advised by my physiotherapist) and getting back into writing. Which has all contributed to me being ready to get back to what I love; blogging, reviewing and sharing my thoughts/opinions with you all. I’m looking at music and adventure posts like before, but now looking at food and hypermobility posts too! I have found my silver lining…

So… I am 23 years old living life with Chronic Pain, Severe Hypermobility Syndrome and Coeliac Disease. I am learning to be open about things, to be realistic and to let go of feeling ashamed that I will not be able to do everything without help – when I said learning I definitely mean it with that bit as I am so stubborn aha. As well as learning to listen to my body and trying very hard to not see my conditions as massive negatives.

My advice to anyone regardless of age or how you feel about what you’re going through, make the doctors listen! Listen to what your body is telling you. It knows you better than you know you!

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch in the usual means!

Thank you all again for your kindness during this time of disappearance xo

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post filled with my opinions and thoughts. I honestly means more than you could imagine!
 
If you’d like to leave any feedback or comments, please do so in the comments box below.
 
Thank you,
 
Leanne xo