My pregnancy diary

Welcome to my pregnancy diary introduction. Here I will be explaining what my pregnancy diary will consist of, why I am sharing it and how it will be shared…

Disclaimer… As I am writing this post my baby boy is currently 8 week’s old and asleep in his moses basket. Why has it taken so long to write this you ask, well being pregnant is one thing. Being pregnant with fibromyalgia and hypermobility syndrome is another, but then add in a global pandemic, lockdown and a state of vulnerability to covid-19 and you have a whole lot to deal with. Therefore, I feel it is better to reflect and share my experience now my pregnancy is over.

The reason why I am sharing my pregnancy experience is because I didn’t have another person to speak to who had been pregnant with fibromyalgia or even hypermobility syndrome, and there wasn’t much out their on the wide web I could find. That itself was a little daunting as I didn’t know if I was being too cautious, not cautious enough or even if what I was feeling was “normal” for me. Therefore I am putting my experience out there in hopes to help someone who is in the same boat, or is supporting someone in the same boat. But also to help any momma’s to be who are struggling with anything I mention such as Pelvic Gurdle Pain and Morning Sickness.

I will be splitting my pregnancy experience into the following sections;

Trimester 1

Trimester 2 – Global Pandemic

Trimester 3 – Health Conditions and Anxiety

Once each of the above posts have been published they will turn into links to guide you directly to each one!

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

Beryl’s Victoria Sponge Cake

I’ve decided to name this recipe Beryl after my Great Nan, the OG of cake baking! This recipe is based off my Great Nan‘s and so it just felt right to name it after her.

This recipe is Gluten Free, but if you swap the Gluten Free components for Gluten Containing ingredients the cake will still be just as good! It is also a 1:1 ratio when swapping from Gluten Free to Gluten Containing, which makes it super easy for you!!

Ingredients;
8oz Self Raising GF Flour,
8oz Stork Butter (or margarine),
8oz Caster Sugar,
4 eggs (medium),
2 oz Stork Butter (or margarine),
4 oz Icing Sugar,
1tsp of Vanilla extract

(Cake ingredients)

Method for cake;

1. Preheat your oven at Gas Mark 4, this also works out to be approximately 175 degrees for an electric

2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until you have a light creamy mixture. If you are using an electric whisk or mixer this will only take a couple of minutes, if you are doing it by hand I recommend a large metal spoon and a lot of patience. This took me around 5 minutes to ensure the mixture was creamy and light.

3. Add your eggs bit by bit, for example one egg at a time, ensuring to beat the well with each addition. At this point you will find your batter isn’t the prettiest! That is absolutely fine.

4. You will now want to fold in your flour, ensuring you are adding it bit by bit as to not over mix your batter or throw flour out the bowl. I prefer to fold my flour by hand, however, you can still use an electric mixer.

5. Now you can add your batter to your desired tin! This mixture will fit inside two 7-inch tins. You can either add to one 7-inch tin or two 7-inch or similar sized tins.

6. Once you have moved your batter into your desired tins, bake in the centre of the over for approximately 25-35 minutes for multiple tins or 40-45 minutes for one 7-inch tin. Make sure you check your cake(s) cooked prior to allowing it to cool. I use a skewer* to ensure the batter has cooked through. If the skewer comes out sticky or with a lot of batter visible then it isn’t cooked. If it comes out with a few crumbs then the batter is cooked through.

(*You can purchase a cake testing probe to do the same job as the skewer!)

7. Allow cake to cool, remove from tin(s) and prepare to decorate! If you have used one 7-inch tin you will be able to cut your cake in half and fill it with your desired jam and buttercream to make the perfect Victoria sponge cake! I have included below my go to method for making vanilla buttercream.

Method for Buttercream;

1. Cream your butter and icing sugar together, by adding little bits at a time of icing sugar.
2. Once the mixture is smooth and creamy, add vanilla essence and mix thoroughly.

This is enough buttercream to sandwich the Victoria Sponge cake together, if you double the quantity you will have enough to sandwich and decorate! If you wanted to you could add different flavouring or colouring to your buttercream! Alternatively for chocolate buttercream, you will want to add 1oz of melted chocolate.

I have used this recipe to make Victoria Sponges, loaf cakes and even cupcakes! This quantity makes roughly 24 cupcakes, which is perfect when making them as a gift or as an afternoon cream tea treat…

If you do use this recipe be sure to let me know how you found it via the comments or even on Instagram! You can even use the hashtag theunluckycoeliacrecipe on instagram for me to see your creations!!

with love

The Unlucky Coeliac xo

The Unlucky Side…

Since the age of 13 I have struggled with constant pain in my joints, and it has and still is a very slow journey to finding a pain free and more enjoyable way of living. This post details the journey I’ve had from start to where I am now, which includes opening up about p personal frustrations and losing a family member.

At 13 years old I joined the Air Training Corps, better known as the Air Cadets. On and off, I spent around 4 years with the ATC and loved every second of it. It came with struggles, my school friends didn’t understand why I went and often made comments about the way I looked when I went. But it was linked to my decision to get myself a step closer to joining the RAF as an avionics engineer, which was my dream at the tender ages of 13-15, until I discovered Physics just wasn’t for me! Being in the ATC I become more active then walking round with mates or doing PE at school. I started doing Drill, playing field Hockey, Netball and found a love for cross country running I never knew I had. But that’s when my knees became very quite problematic and not doing what they were supposed to. It also become clear that my arms weren’t straight like everyone else when marching. Which is a massive issue when you want to compete in cross country and Drill competitions! Fall after fall, multiple twisted ankle injuries resulted in visits to the hospital for X-rays and finding out I had soft tissue damage diagnoses, were becoming too frequent for mine and my parents liking. The crunching noises my knees made, the clicking of my toes when walking barefoot and the swelling of my joints all become too much for a young me. And thats when my first doctors visit resulted in being told it was growing pains. I mean I get it, I was 14 years old but how much more growing did I really have in me? I think this was the last time I ever saw my knees when they weren’t swollen 24/7…

Fast forward to being 17 years old, I am in my second year of college and find standing up in the chemistry labs doing experiments too painful and am often sitting down more than others. I have lost a large amount of weight, and haven’t grown a centimetre since I was 14 years old. I’m now struggling with my shoulder, which maybe is because I have the weirdest accidents and funniest most clumsy Nan ever who managed to shut her boot on me onto my shoulder. That was checked over and was completely fine, Nan’s okay too! But was it the right or the left shoulder that happened too, I can’t remember… Anyway, I have not long been referred for an MRI after falling into the road because my knee gave way, which resulted in my school best friend having to physically PULL my jeans off my leg as my knee was so swollen! Oh and my Dad having to take me to my GP after just getting back from holiday (don’t think that was on his agenda). MRI’s are such a strange experience, as they’re super loud and make a weird noise but everytime I go in one I manage to fall asleep! Honestly if you’ve not had an MRI its hard to understand how crazy that is without the following description… Imagine being in a tub that has a Jackhammer going off right next to it, but when that stops it turns into a power drill and they just take it in turns really, oh and you have to remain super still otherwise it messes the whole thing up! Can you tell I’ve had more than one?

So I do some physio, and that doesn’t really work but I’m discharged anyway with a diagnosis of Ligamentous Laxity (which basically means really relaxed ligaments) but this was after the growing pains and Slatus diagnosis I received before the MRI. Now I’m 18 and going clubbing for the first time ever! I’m excited, I have had a little drinky drink at my house with some friends and head into town to pre-drink and head to the legendary Snobs. Now if you are from Birmingham in the UK you will know what Snobs is, and I must inform you my 18th was celebrated in old Snobs not the new one…

… Anyway, sidetracked a little there…

… So we have had one drink each and are walking over to Snobs down some steps and that’s when the most embarrassing thing ever happens! My knee gives way, I fly forward down the concrete steps in high heels. Somehow I miss smashing my face off of them, but my foot has chunks of skin taken out off and my knee is now throbbing and is huge! Like a boss I get up (with help from my friends) try and laugh it off, with some tears, and head over. I can barely walk but I make it into the club and play off like I’m chilling. I couldn’t get shoes on for like a week and had a scar that finally disappeared when I was about 20. For the next few years I battled with a love for heels, but my body hating it and having to give up wearing them more then every now and then when I was 20. The few occasions I have worn them since, I am pretty much unable to walk for days or even weeks. Oh and I have to take them off after having photos taken, which made looking for wedding shoes very interesting…

At 19 I felt the urge to work on myself to improve my body and self confidence. I found a love for the gym, started going out on weekends with my friends and just tried to be your “normal” young adult. I was going the gym 3-4 times a week, working with one of my longest friends from school who was my PT. We would work on exercises that wouldn’t irritate my knees and shoulder, oh and my hips, by simplifying movements or tailoring programmes for me. Then I fell on the treadmill. It was a minor fall, I was very lucky, but boy do treadmills burn!! The gym become a very big outlet of stress, anger and disappointment in the way things work out when my uncle was diagnoses with a very aggressive and well studied by myself brain cancer. Which unfortunately meant I was becoming more frustrated with myself when I started to struggle with things I used to be able to do. Then I met a boy and took some time out of the gym and stopped going to PT sessions. As you do 😉

At 21 I had one of the biggest heartbreak i’ve ever experienced! During an adjustment period with work, my uncle passed away after a very strongly fought battle with Cancer. During this very raw time I threw myself back into the gym, I went with a very close and super supportive friend who I hold very dearly in my heart for helping me with this incredibly difficult time of my life. She would try and keep me motivated when I’d get frustrated with myself. We even moved gyms to one closer to where I was living. But at 22 years old, after no longer being able to use weights, deadlift or even squat without my pain increasing and feeling completely deflated; I finally admitted to myself something wasn’t quite right and went back to my GP.

Now when your knees are constantly coming out of alignment, you feel like your legs are been pulled out of your hip socket and twisted, you’re letting people down with last minute cancellations (including your family), things start to eat up at you. Those feelings, with the support of my friend, encouraged me to go back to the GP be the most open about my struggles with my body than I had ever been. Finally the GP who had witnessed my subluxation of my shoulder, the delay in healing from whiplash from a car accident earlier that year and helping me get out of a gym membership said ‘lets get this sorted shall we, and find out why your body is doing the things it is’. That was one of the best days of my life, feeling that relief that someone is listening and that you’re not crazy is unreal!! That leads us then to the rheumatology appointment I discussed in my coeliac diagnosis post.

Now in my mid-20’s I have a diagnosis of very server hypermobility syndrome from the Rheumatologist and a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia from the Pain Management Team. I walk with a walking stick sometimes, I pretty much live in KT Tape and have had many, many appointments that I have attended over the last few years including physiotherapy that was every 4-6 weeks. I have also seen a specialist in London, who reviewed me and my case and confirmed I have components of EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) but do not have the full package that would see me as someone who has that as a diagnosis. It’s been a long journey, but my diagnosis has been found and I have been working since 2018 on understanding my body and it’s limits. As well as understanding and trying not to get frustrated at my bad days, or overdo it on my good days.

The most important thing to take away from this is that despite the frustrations and feeling so confused and lost, it’s so important to trust your instinct and your own understanding of your body! If I didn’t I could have hurt myself, faced full dislocations and even could have made myself ill with guilt and feeling ashamed. So if something doesn’t feel right, please go with your gut and enquire it with the correct people!

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