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Is Your Food Making You Sick?

Did you know over 355,000 Australians have coeliac disease? Basically gluten makes them horribly sick. And while some people like the idea that they might feel better eating gluten free as a lifestyle thing, actual coeliacs don’t have a choice.

Like Jenni Erbel who just happens to be married to that bloke you hear at the start and end of our podcasts Col Mooney

 

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT:

KAYE:
Is your food making you sick? You might be shocked to learn over 355,000 Australians have coeliac disease! Gluten makes them horribly sick… And while some people have jumped on the idea they'll feel better eating gluten free as a kind of lifestyle thing, true coeliacs don't have a choice.

Like Jenny Erbel who just happens to be married to that lovely bloke you hear at the start and end of our podcast Colin Mooney…

BRIAN:
G'day Jenni welcome to Food Wine Pets Travel - Now what we want to find out about is a condition that you have called coeliac disease. What is it? How do you get it? Fill us in!

JENNI:
Sure - It basically means that I suppose I'm allergic to gluten - That's probably the easiest thing. A lot of people have allergies but my allergy is around gluten. My body doesn't like it.

KAYE:
So what happens if you have gluten?

JENNI:
Well for a lot of people they get a lot of different side effects. My side effect is I actually have a feeling of being hungover for about five days.

KAYE:
Without the fun parts?

JENNI:
Yep!... Without the fun parts! - So most of the time people tend to throw up or have diarrhoea or have bloating. There's even some people that are asymptomatic, so they actually have no symptoms at all… But in my case that tends to be that feeling of being unwell and you wake up and I feel dusty and vague and headachey. That's my thing! It's an allergy to gluten.

KAYE:
So how do most people include yourself actually find out they've got this problem?

JENNI:
I believe most people who have the situation where they've got the diarrhoea and they're throwing up tend to be easily diagnosed. In my case mine was very vague

So how I got discovered it, there actually is a blood test you can do and you can also have an endoscopy in order to diagnose… basically it’s a little camera that goes down the throat and end up in your stomach.

So mine was a bit unusual because the symptoms were so vague. It took three years from when I started feeling unwell before I actually got diagnosed with it

So it wasn't a good thing at all

But it's a common disease

I think about 10% of people in a Australia are actually Coeliacs - It's just how many of them are actually diagnosed – we don’t know!

KAYE:
And yet there are so many people affected by it!... I mean how do you get it? Do you catch it? Are you born with it?

JENNI:
That's a really good question - I asked the doctor the same thing and in my family there's a number of autoimmune diseases. My doctor believes that it's because of modified wheat which has actually been the trigger for it.

So both of my kids have been tested if they are coeliac and they both came back as a negative. I also lived on a cane farm where they used to in the good old 1960's and early 1970's used to spray with a lot of chemicals that are no longer able to be sprayed.

And there has been some connection that I understand people that have been diagnosed with auto disease and this is a consequence.

So whilst I'm not a doctor it does appear there's a genetic link in my family. And we've also been exposed to circumstances both chemically as well as via diet.

I'm not sure which one was the trigger but they're all present

BRIAN:
Of course we're talking to lots of people who are travelling - even people who aren't… but what happens when you want to go out and have something to eat at a restaurant?

JENNI:
Yeah … again that's a really good question - I must admit at the beginning that's probably the hardest thing of just being brave enough to go out! I actually went out for dinner last night. You tend to know the restaurants that most of the food they serve is gluten free… And that's Indian and Thai, and when I do go out even if it's to an Indian or Thai restaurant as I did last night it's always letting the restaurant know that you're a coeliac.

I need something that's gluten free and checking that there's been no contamination as well. So a lot of menus will actually show you what is gluten free which is great.

But I'll always ask the question… for example chips in a lot of places is gluten free

And this is hot chips not potato chips - I'll ask the question when you're frying those chips…”are you frying them in a special area that only the things that get fried in there are actually a gluten free?”

So you ask about it - Is the meal gluten free?

And then you ask around is there any chance of contamination from it being cooked with other things that actually have gluten as well?

And for people that are listening, there's nothing wrong with fruit vegetables any sort of meat. The issue becomes around things that are in cans and sauces and obviously breads.

KAYE:
Actually before we met you I was told by your husband that you're a coeliac, so I popped into the supermarket and grabbed a whole heap of gluten free bikkies and treats and things…  I couldn't believe how much more expensive they are!

JENNI:
Yes it's expensive - The bread is expensive. In a lot of cases the gluten free food that's marketed as gluten free can also be high in sugar and high in fat in order to make it tasty.

I mean it's the ultimate insult… as my grandson says “it sucks to be you!!” - It's like great! - I've paid all this extra for something I actually don't like - And it's awful.

All I'm going to do is get fat and the doctor actually said to me after being diagnosed “you've really got to watch your diet now because if all you do is buy everything gluten free you're going to put weight!”

So it's sort of finding the mid-range of what's healthy in what's obviously all going to be gluten free. And how do I still have little treats but see them as treats? And how do I change which is essentially a new regime for eating and not focusing on packaged gluten free but actually focusing on un-processed gluten free most of the time.

KAYE:
So what have you got to deal with as a coeliac? What are some of the issues on a day to day basis?

JENNI:
Well what I generally do is if we're going out I'll always have something in my bag that's gluten free because you can never guarantee that you can be somewhere where maybe I'm going to be provided for if that makes sense.

I've always got a supply of something and that way I know there's not an issue and it tends to either be a piece of fruit or it's something that's highly processed which is fine

But most of the time the focus I have is on eating…and know it sounds

boring really, but healthy fruit & vegetables and trying to cut down on processed things and it works!

KAYE:
Well in doing a bit of research before our chat we went looking online and found coeliac.org.au spelt c-o-e-l-i-a-c ?? But the name is spelt differently in different places!

JENNI:
Yes and it's funny… when I saw the name Celiac I looked it up because I always thought it had the ‘O’ in it, but when you look online it's actually got the two different types of spelling. So I learned something too!

Oh there's two ways of spelling Coeliac! Anyway that's where people can go

and get more information if they think they might be a coeliac  - coeliac.org.au 

KAYE:
It's good to know you're not alone! 😊

JENNI:
Exactly right!  They also have a really good app that has every ingredient and every preservative. So one of the ways when you go shopping is you look at something and it doesn't say it on the packet and you look through every ingredient to see what’s in it, well they've got a marvellous little app that you can look up every ingredient and every number of any preservatives to then be able to ascertain yourself what the actual ingredients ware and that what you're actually buying is gluten free.

And that was probably the best thing ever was getting that app, so I felt empowered when I was outgoing shopping especially as a new coeliac. (APP on PlayStore)

KAYE:
Awesome!... Thanks very much for joining us today on Food Wine Pets Travel, we’ve both learned a lot and I think everyone else has too!

BRIAN:
Absolutely… and look, I was just going to say very quickly our Healthy Lifestyles Australia Dietitian and Nutritionist Caitlyn Henderson would be very impressed hearing you talk about things like ‘you've got to eat veggies and fruit’ and all this sort of stuff

JENNI:
That's great … but I have to say that I say to my husband quite often probably, I know I eat a lot better because I'm diagnosed as a coeliac because it takes away the choice of eating a whole lot of things I would have eaten and because I don't have a choice but it's easy to comply because it's given that if I cross the line I'm going to get whacked!

BRIAN:
Yes it's a little bit like that in this house or caravan I should say?

JENNI:
Yes but that's a good thing!... you’ve got to look for the silver lining!
 
KAYE:
Wonderful!...  and we hope you can join us again and tell us even more next time.

JENNI:
Excellent… thanks a lot,  I've enjoyed the chat 😊

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