Meet the Customers - A Chat with Gluten Free Alice
1. Could you tell us about your diagnosis story?
I remember starting to regularly feel unwell at school when I was around 15 years old, and that feeling never really went away. I constantly had a tummy ache, felt really sick and exhausted which really started to impact on every part of my life. I was missing weeks and weeks of school and for months felt so unwell, with various trips back and forth from failed doctors appointments, where I was given numerous different tablets to try (none of which helped!).
After months of this constant cycle I was eventually sent for blood tests to test for various things including Coeliac Disease. My Mum is a diagnosed Coeliac so I don’t know why we didn’t think of getting me tested for Coeliac Disease sooner. This was confirmed by the doctors and I straight away stopped eating gluten which helped to reduce the symptoms a lot.
Unfortunately a few years later I started to feel really unwell again and I was experiencing terrible cystic acne, so after a lot of tears and more trips to the doctors to discuss my skin as well as my ever growing stomach problems including bloating, constant upset stomachs as well as feeling really sick again the doctor suggested cutting out dairy too. This was pretty overwhelming to start with, no gluten and no dairy, what was left to eat?! But with cutting out milk, my skin started to clear up, my stomach felt 100 times better, and I felt a lot happier in myself. I only wish I had figured out what was causing my problems sooner. It’s crazy how for me and so many other people, consuming certain foods (gluten and dairy in my case) can cause you to feel SO poorly and your body to react the way it does.
2. How supportive were your friends and family in helping you make the changes in your diet? Did they find it hard to understand why you need to be so strict?
I never really had any problems with my friends and family and my dietary restrictions, but this was mainly due to the fact my Mum is also a diagnosed Coeliac, so the family already had a real understanding of what I could and couldn't eat. We now have more gluten free members of the family than non gluten free members, with my Nan, Uncle and Cousin all now eating a gluten free diet too. It was slightly more tricky with friends, especially when eating out as I always used to hate feeling like a nuisance having restrictions on where I could and couldn't eat, this was never really a real issue though, and most of my friends were so understanding of my dietary needs.
3. Where is your favourite place to eat your favourite grub?
There are so many amazing restaurants to eat at these days that cater for gluten and dairy free diets. I think my all time favourite at the moment has to be Honest Burger, which is an absolutely amazing burger chain which offer all of their burgers in a gluten free bun, with gluten free onion rings and chips. Plus their 'Beyond Meat' special is incredible. I also absolutely love going to Broadway Market in London as there are so many fab stalls with gluten and dairy free options - doughnuts, brownies, meringues, pancakes, fish & chips, you name it!
4. How do you keep a track of where you have eaten?
I tend to post photos on my Instagram account when I've been out for a meal that I'd recommend to others. This way I can share positive and negative experiences with others with the same dietary requirements which may be helpful for them when eating out too. I also tend to post Eating Out guides on my website with a list of my favourite places in various cities. I personally find following other peoples guides when I'm away SO handy, it's great that the community can all help each other.
5. You have a really popular blog. Could you describe your audience (the kind of people who follow you, the journey they are on etc)?
Thank you - My blog audience tend to be people who are new to eating a gluten and/or dairy free diet, newly diagnosed Coeliacs etc. It can be really tough going from eating anything you want to suddenly having to cut out a long list of different foods, so having resources and blogs with meal ideas, recipes and tips can be really useful! I also post a lot of dairy free recipes (and enjoy eating and cooking vegan food) so more recently I've also started to gain an audience interested in these kind of recipes too.
6. Are there any must-reads for people wanting to gain control over their GF/ coeliac diets?
One of my favourite resources for newly diagnosed Coeliacs is the Coeliac UK website which provide so many useful pieces of information such as Coeliac Accredited restaurants, apps for checking if products are gluten free, FAQs and much more!
7. What is your favourite place to eat outside of London?
London does generally tend to be home to some of the best gluten free restaurants, however there are so many great places located outside of London too! My favourite chain restaurants are Zizzi for amazing gluten & dairy free pizza and Las Iguanas for great Latin American & Mexican food.
8. How do you keep up to date with whats happening on the food scene in London? Any go-to blogs or Instagram accounts you love?
I keep up to date by following lots of amazing London based gluten free Instagram accounts who share their eating out tips and new finds. Some great London based gluten free Instagram accounts to follow include: @eat.travel.london @gluteninterrupted * @glutenfreegatherer @wherethewheatlessthingsare @fittiefodmapldn @theglutenfreesuitcase @myglutenfreeguide @wheatard and @bryonyehopkins (there are so many more though!). * Read more about Rebecca on the Borough 22 blog - click here!
9. If you could eat one Borough 22 doughnut on your deathbed, which one would it be?
This is such a tough question, I love them all! I think if I had to choose it would be hazelnut cacao or cereal crumb!