James Miller - Coeliac Diary


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

B12 Effects


I had my B12 injection yesterday and this morning I played real tennis for two hours. I played a lot better than normal and won both matches I played easily. Note that as real tennis is all on handicap, on average I should have lost one and won one.

Has anybody else noted improvements in health and fitness just after an injection or is it just coincidence?


Friday, July 27, 2007

Afghan Cooking


The Times has some interesting Afghan recipes in the paper today. They look GF.


Friday, July 20, 2007



Last week I went to Salzburg on business.

It’s not my town really, as Mozart is not my taste in music. Well, I don’t have any taste in music.

I was with a German speaker and I coped very well with the food. In two restaurants, the chef came out and ascertained what I needed and made sure everything was fine.

It’s a very pretty city, but I didn’t see that much, as it was chucking it down.

Incidentally, the flight cost £32 from Stansted on Ryanair. That was all taxes and charges.


The Aeolian Islands


A few weeks ago, Celia and I went on holiday to the Aeolian Islands. If you don’t know where they are, they are a series of about ten volcanic islands, that lie between Sicily and Naples. The best known is the active volcano Stromboli, which is how every child draws a volcano. It’s even got smoke coming out the top. But although the islands are in fact part of Sicily, they are rather different in character.

We stayed in two hotels on two different islands; Panarea and Salina.

Panarea is an unusual island, just a few kilometres across, where there are no cars. There are just golf buggies, those funny three wheel vans and pickups, and of course scooters, some of which are electric. Even the Carabineri and the taxi drivers use golf buggies.

The hotel we stayed at was smart and very chaotic. I didn’t get glutened, but it wasn’t one I would trust, so we ate out in the town. We found an excellent restaurant/hotel called the Da Pina, where they really understood what was needed, even if their English was limited. They have a website at www.dapina.com. From the web site, it also appears they have villas and I did check out the delis on the island and eating GF shouldn’t be a problem.

Most people understand about coeliac on the island and we had an experience in the bar on the port, where when they discovered I was a coeliac, they always brought GF nibbles with the drinks.

Panarea has a reasonable sandy beach, with a restaurant called Zimmari, which is south of the main town. Except that you had to pay for the umbrellas and loungers if you wanted them, it was an ideal beach for kids in that there were no sellers of anything.

Salina is a much bigger island and we stayed at a hotel called the Signum. It is excellent, family-run and has a web site at www.hotelsignum.it. It was quite expensive, but I couldn’t fault it. As an example of how careful they were, they always provided an appetizer before meals. They would tease by saying, I wasn’t having one and give Celia a crostini or something like that. Then I would get a special one of rice or mushroom.

So we ate in the hotel every night.

One thing you ought to like if you go there is rabbit or coniglio as they are native there. I suspect they were released by the Normans, who ruled the Islands in the Middle Ages. They brought rabbits to the UK as well.

They cook it rolled up with vegetables and no bones.

So we had a very good holiday in perhaps one of the most unusual places in Europe.

We got there by flying to Palermo and then getting a hydrofoil. As you can see, we stayed in hotels, but friends had an excellent time with their family on another island, Lipari, where they self-catered. Lipari is much bigger and has a lot more to do, with many shops, a big museum, marina, castle and cathedral.

I’m going to post this to my Coeliac Diary with a few pictures.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Food Labelling


As a coeliac, all I want is the allergies clearly labelled.

What really gets me though, is when they change the recipe and something goes from gluten free to containing gluten.


Jean Van de Velde


He is reputed to have gastric problems and joint pains.



Monday, July 16, 2007

The Cinderella Allergy


I read with interest the front page article in The Times on allergy sufferers with interest.

But as a coeliac, or someone allergic to the gluten in wheat, barley and rye, I am totally surprised at the omission of any mention of this allergy. According to statistics compiled by Nottingham University it affects about one in a hundred of the population of the United Kingdom. They also said that diagnosed coeliacs are at a lower risk of getting cancer as opposed to the general population.

Perhaps it has acquired this Cinderella status, because once diagnosed, sufferers generally lose all of those awful symptoms, like migraines, wind, chronic dandruff, diarrhoea, joint pains, infertility in women, mild depression etc. that they’ve endured for years. With the exception of the odd check-up and injection, you are not a heavy drain on the NHS. Some might argue that because coeliac disease shows itself in very peculiar and almost unrelated places, diagnosis saves money by cutting unnecessary visits to the doctor and mis-prescribing of drugs.

But at least things are changing.

Some doctors are now looking to see if the migraines, joint pains or infertility are caused by the allergy.

We need much more of this all-round and open approach to health.

For instance could some of the well-publicised mystery illnesses and loss of form of some sportsmen, be down to undiagnosed coeliac disease? If you take the thousands of professional sportsmen and women in this country, it is surprising that only one is known to be a coeliac. On the law of averages there should be quite a lot more.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Height Problems and Coeliacs


I was very small and was not checked for CD in the late 1940s as there was no test available to the GP and the local hospital. However, in the end I seemed to grow for longer and managed to get to nearly five foot eight. My wife always says I’m taller now, than when we met.

So don’t worry too much, in most cases you do seem to end up at the right height. I fit the formula for males of average parent height plus four inches.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Gluten Free Oats


I’ll put my farmers hard hat on here and put my head over the parapet.

Oats in themselves are gluten-free, but the problem is cross contamination in the fields. Walk past any field of wheat and you’ll often see wild oats growing above the wheat. They have seeded accidentally and they are called “volunteers” by many farmers. (I think this is where the expression sowing wild oats comes from.)

With a field of oats, that may have been used for wheat or barley you may well get the same problem of self seeding of unwanted crop, but here because the wheat is shorter than the oats, you can’t see them. So when the oats are harvested there is a variable amount of wheat or barley in the oats.

With a good farmer proud of his crop, this level will be probably be below a few parts per million, so it would be acceptable to many coeliacs. I can eat porridge in most cases, but I don’t as I’m not that struck on it.

So would organic oats be better?

I will infuriate many here, by saying that in my view they may not be. The reason is that when a non-organic farmer is putting a new crop into a field, he will use a strong spray to kill the remains of the previous wheat or barley. This may reduce the cross contamination. Other practices such as good crop management and probably leaving a wide border around the field would also help.

So they would certainly be more gluten-free if it was a good farmer, who might even be growing oats for seed. In that case he would want to make sure that the levels of contamination with wheat or barley were extraordinarily low. They get a premium price from that.

So as in many things provenance is everything.

And that’s the problem with oats.

How do you find out which field on which farm they were grown? And what was in the field before they planted oats?

Aside - After writing this I found a company that produces gluten-free oats called Gluten Free Oats.

Read how they do it.

I suspect in Wyoming, where they have a lot of space, they can do it. But it will be much more difficult proposition in a crowded country like the UK, where agriculture is just that more intense.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Thoughts On Gastroscopies


There are two views on gastroscopies; good and bad.

I didn’t find it a bad experience and I had a throat spray rather than a sedative for it. But I did have a very good doctor. It was a bit painful at the time but after ten minutes or so, I didn’t feel as if I hadn’t had anything done. Others have felt otherwise.

I wrote it up in the diary earlier.



Thursday, July 05, 2007

Celiac in Spam


Not that spam, but the Internet one.

Completely off topic and perhaps rather sad that I checked, but it appears that about 0.1% of spam messages contain the word celiac.