Living With Coeliac Disease

Gluten free millionaires shortbread

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I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease 5 years ago after years of feeling generally unwell after eating.

I’ve put my diagnosis story on my blog, warts and all at – just check out the About section. I started my blog in 2012 to give others a few hints and tips, it has grown a lot and now as well as reviewing products I also provide regular updates and assistance to coeliacs at home and abroad. There is nothing nicer than receiving an email from someone thanking you for making their life a little easier.

For those of you not so hot on what CD is, here are the basics

  • It is an autoimmune disease and is not contagious
  • People with CD cannot tolerate gluten in their system. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and barley amongst other grains. So yes, that’s a no to normal bread and beer!
  • The only treatment is a gluten free diet
  • A person with CD who ingests gluten will have trouble absorbing nutrients and this can lead to illness such as malnutrition and osteoporosis. As well as this, it is shown to have a direct links to infertility, mental health and cancer.
  • In the short term, they may experience vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea…..let’s just say it’s no party!

Coeliac Disease is a funny one in that a lot of people don’t realise what it is and how serious it can be. Unfortunately, in an age of food intolerances and fads, going gluten free often gets lumped in with being a ‘fussy eater’ or on a strange diet. On the bright side, living gluten free has improved year on year since I was diagnosed.

People are often surprised when they realise how much I can eat and with this in mind, here’s a day in my food life.

Homemade Crunchy Granola


The majority of normal cereals are out as they either have wheat/barley as an ingredient or are coated in the stuff. However, you can get GF (gluten free) cornflakes, muesli, and even a version of cheerios in supermarkets across the country and they taste just the same.

You can also buy plenty of delicious handmade Irish granola but I prefer to make my own, which I normally have with fruit and some natural yoghurt. On a bold day I might have a slice of GF toast. There are so many brands available now but my favourites are Goodness Grains and Bfree, both Irish.

Gluten free Nicoise salad
Gluten Free Nicoise Salad


Coeliacs can’t just pop in to their local Spar for a hot chicken roll unfortunately so unless you want to spend a fortune on deli salads every day, it’s worth your while bring lunch in to work. I love a big crunchy salad with turkey or salmon with some Bfree wraps.

For a treat I might grab a burrito in a bowl from a local Mexican place (Boojum on Kevin St is my favourite) or an Asian curry (If you haven’t been to Neon on Camden St we can never be friends).

Gluten free millionaires shortbread
Gluten Free Millionaire’s Shortbread


Apart from spending half the day limiting my coffee intake, I indulge on nuts or popcorn for a quick pick me up and the odd chocolate bar – the best GF ones in my opinion are Twirls and Aeros. You will also regularly find me munching on a pack of Cheese & Onion Keoghs. A lot of crisps aren’t gluten free but they babies definitely are, yum.

Gluten Free chicken parmigiana
Gluten Free chicken parmigiana – it doesn’t get better, really


Could be anything! My husband eats gluten free with me in the evening and we use GF pasta and rice noodles instead of the regular stuff. I can eat all fruit, veg (including spuds) and meats as long as they don’t have any coatings.

Gluten finds its way in to many convenience foods so most sauces and meals we make from scratch. At the start it was hard to get used to but now I wouldn’t dream of using a tinned sauce when I know my own is so much nicer. In saying that, there are some great options available if you do need something quick and easy.

All Irish Coeliacs who are registered with the Coeliac Society of Ireland receive an annual food list and this is our bible when it comes to shopping.

There is plenty more to fill you in on so in my next guest post I’ll be tackling cross contamination and my favourite places to eat out in Dublin.


Donna Breen (age 31), was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease 5 years ago. She used to eat a LOT of cream crackers and bold takeaways but has found a healthier lifestyle in Coeliac Disease as well as some great gluten free alternatives. She lives in Dublin and is married to Mos. Dona works in Financial Services and loves to blog, run, cook and go out to eat with friends in her spare time.

Find her at, @gfcailin and on Facebook as Gluten Free Cailin.

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