We are not going to pretend that this is an easy journey. You have to be prepared to take the time to think carefully about everything you eat and drink, avoiding the obvious sources of gluten as well as the hidden ones. You also need to be vigilant about the very real risks of cross-contamination.
That said, it is one of those areas where persistence pays. After three months of strict avoidance of gluten, the antibodies that cause the damage are usually undetectable in blood samples: after that, you can normally look forward to steadily improving health as your intestines heal.
Along the way and despite your best efforts you may find that you inadvertently ingest gluten. If you are coeliac the consequences can last several days, but we usually find that the thought of the ‘lost days’ only adds to the determination.
Reading as much as you can should help you avoid most of the pitfalls in knowing what is ‘safe’ to eat and what is out of bounds. Armed with that knowledge, a diagnosis of coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity doesn’t need curb your life or those of your loved ones.
Finding good recipes and being prepared to substitute ingredients can be quite a lot of fun. If you are prepared to experiment in this way, or find recipes that do, you will find that it is entirely possible to create great food that doesn’t feel in any way like a compromise.
Many restaurants now offer a wide range of gluten-free choices, or have thought in advance how to amend their regular dishes. The stellar ones among those we have visited are those who take it completely in their stride and approach the task with style and imagination.
Photograph by Sharon Drummond