Gluten-free life now normal
BANORA Point teenager Lauren Wilson lives a normal life, until she wants to eat food.
The 14-year-old was diagnosed with coeliac disease at 12 months old, much earlier than most Australians who have the disease.
“I’ve lived with it all my life so it’s normal for me, I just have to read labels on everything and look for what I can’t have,” Lauren said.
“I have a great group of friends as well so they know what I can and can’t eat when I’m with them.”
Lauren’s mother, Shelley Wilson, said her second daughter was the only one in their family with coeliac disease.
“She was really sick after she was born and the doctor said he thought she had a food allergy,” Mrs Wilson said.
“She was taken off everything and was introduced a new food every four days.
“When she had bread, within 20 minutes she was really sick.”
Mrs Wilson said Lauren had a rare complication with coeliac disease.
“Her vision was affected to the point she was thought to be ‘day blind’ and had to wear sunglasses everywhere we went,” Mrs Wilson said.
“She had extreme light sensitivity due to a vitamin deficiency because of the disease but that went away after we got her diet right.”
With Coeliac Awareness Week starting today, Mrs Wilson said it was important for parents to realise when something was not quite right with their child.
“I’ve seen a diagnosis turn many people’s lives around,” she said.
“It took about four years to get everything right with Lauren after she was diagnosed with coeliac disease and so many children are diagnosed very late.”
Mrs Wilson said comprehensive labelling on food helped her and her daughter eat a gluten-free diet.
“The whole family went on a gluten-free diet for five years after Lauren was diagnosed and it was so expensive having to by gluten-free products.
“Before it was ‘any doubt leave it out’ but now with better labelling I can buy more mainstream products that Lauren can eat.”
Parents can ring the Coeliac Awareness Hotline on 1300 273 72 for a free brochure about coeliac disease in children.
Coeliac disease affects at least one in 100 children in Australia, with four out of five children not diagnosed.
The disease is caused by a total intolerance to gluten which is found in wheat, barley, oats and rye.
People with coeliac disease are unable to process the food they eat properly and so their bodies become ‘starved’ of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.