James Miller - Coeliac Diary


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Loch Fyne - Ipswich


I ate there last night and they knew what I needed. Not bad too, but anything would have been good, as Ipswich won 3-1. They are also doing a survey on what customers want, so I told them.

Afterwards, I went to a party at a friend’s. She knows I’m a coeliac, but there was nothing I could eat except raw vegetables. Lucky I’d had the good meal at Loch Fyne.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trufree Pretzels


Found these in Tesco at Newmarket this morning.

Taste just like normal ones.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Coeliac UK Membership Fees


Coeliac UK membership fees are being raised.

These are not generally a problem for us on our gluten free list on Yahoo. If we don’t like them, we’ve got the Internet to get the advice we want. We are also pretty articulate and as others have said we get a lot of our answers from this group.

This tale was told to me by a barrister.

He had a client in his late 50s, who was coeliac and going through a divorce. Quite frankly, once they’d split the house and what little they had, he could just about buy a flat, but had nothing left for any extras. He was also computer illiterate, so he couldn’t turn to the Internet.

So not only was he now alone, miserable and broke, he could not really afford to get any extra information about his medical problems. Luckily his son is very much a brick and helps his father.

I believe that this is a variant of a very common tale.

Coeliac UK is useless to anybody like this.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Elveden Estate


We bought a new puppy at the weekend and on the way back from deepest Norfolk, we stopped for a snack at the cafe on the Elveden Estate. The whole place has expanded rapidly over the last year or so and has lots of what they call Lifestyle Shops.

However, on the menu they now feature a gluten-free meal and highlight it boldly as such. It was a proper chilli con carne and rather nice too. I should say that other items on the menu are gluten-free, but it was nice to see such a statement being made.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cross Contamination


This comes up a lot, so I thought I’d try and put some mathematical reasoning down.

To start I’ve just found a typical crumb on my desk. It’s very messy and it’s a gluten-free crumb from a Trufree cracker. I’ve measured it and it’s about 5 mm x 2mm x 1mm. So that is 10 cubic millimetres. This could be the sort of crumb that might get into chocolate from cross-contamination.

As there are a thousand cubic millimetres in a cubic centimetre, then 10 cubic millimetres of water would weigh 0.01 grams. But as biscuit has a specific density of 0.6, then the little crumb weighs 0.006 grams.

So if we take a typical 100 gram bar of Green and Blacks chocolate, then this little crumb would be 60 ppm. Years ago, I found a small screw the size of the crumb in a chocolate bar and I noticed it. Are screws gluten free?

Seriously though, I would suspect that this level would never happen, as manufacturing processes are such, that if say it’s a caramel bar, then they don’t want their mint ones that follow down the line to taste of caramel. And after all there would be a lot of mixing before the chocolate entered the line.

So as somebody who is not supersensitive I would take the chance.

I’ve only ever noticed cross-contamination once and that was with Mint Imperials. I got an Aniseed one in a packet of mint. Both are gluten-free.

And then there’s the story of what happened at Barratt’s in the 1950s or 60s. Their factory was just around the corner from my father’s print works and the story was in all the pubs. A guy was mixing aniseed balls and he had a packet of cigarettes in his top pocket. It fell in and was distributed amongst perhaps a hundred thousand balls. No-one complained.

I shall be writing to Cadburys, as I have issues about Crunchies.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Catering at Exhibitions


I normally avoid eating at exhibitions and such-like as there is usually never anything remotely gluten-free except Coke and perhaps a few crisps. Today, I went to an exhibition at Earls Court and was intending to turn up, walk round, exit and the take the tube to somewhere more friendly.

But, they had four types of sealed salads which were a pretty good meal for me. I chose a Nicoise and although the plastic knives and forks were their usual useless selves, the salad was quite tasty and much more than OK. It contains lots of tuna, a whole egg, a lot of cucumber and tomato and not too much lettuce. Unfortunately, there were olives. I hate olives. There was also a cheese and egg salad, which looked gluten-free.

But the salad was only £4.50, which I thought was very reasonable for an event, considering that a 33cl. bottle of Coke was £1.80.

I shall be writing to Earls Court.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

How to be a Gluten-Free Restaurant


On Friday night we went to the White Pheasant at Fordham, which is just off the A11 Newmarket-by-pass.

All dishes are marked accordingly VNG for vegetarian, nuts and gluten-free. The food is at the top-level of gastropub. It couldn't be faulted.

Yesterday, we went to The Bluebell Restaurant at Chigwell. Parking was a nightmare last night, but the food was excellent.

I hadn’t told them I wanted gluten-free and the owner/manager heard me say something about gluten to Celia. He then told me that everything would be OK except the obvious ones, like the quiche.

Both restaurants are not cheap, but being successful in any business is about pleasing your customers and attention to detail. If these two can do it so well, then why can’t everybody else?


Gluten Free Food on Prescription


I’ve never bothered much with prescriptions.

The only thing I get is Dr. Schar’s pasta, which you can’t get in a shop.

I should also say that I don’t eat GF bread, as I’ve just cut it out of my diet. I do it biscuits and cake, which I get from the supermarket.

As I turned 60 in August I get free prescriptions, but after going through what is available, I decided not to bother. My surgery has its own pharmacist, so I was able to sit down with her at the computer.

She said that the lot of many could be improved with some chocolate items on the list. She felt that as you’re ill, the NHS thinks you shouldn’t have anything enjoyable.


Monday, October 08, 2007

The Closure of Frys in Bristol


This may seem rather a selfish post given that five hundred will lose their jobs with the closure of the old Fry’s chocolate factory in Bristol.

But I am a coeliac and very much enjoy the occasional Crunchie, which is one of the few readily available gluten-free chocolate snacks. They are made in the Bristol factory.

Will Cadburys be able to guarantee me that this little pleasure will stay gluten-free, once the product is made in another factory, where cross contamination may well be possible.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cholesterol and Testosterone


I was watching University Challenge last night. I should probably say I think as I was doing something else at the time. But one question was about cholesterol and how it becomes testosterone.

I had not realised this so I searched the Internet for information and the link between the two. I should also say at this point that I have slightly raised cholesterol and my doctor was worried for a time. I also have relatives with thyroid problems, which again is related. (I think she worries a bit more than me, which is probably good.)

This was a statement in an article at http://www.treelight.com/health/healing/Cholesterol.html.

“Cholesterol is very necessary stuff. It's converted into Vitamin D by sunlight, and it's the precursor for steroid hormones like the testosterone you need to grow, and the estrogen women need to be feminine.

The liver manufactures something like 1,000 mg of cholesterol per day, even if you consume no cholesterol at all. Of that amount, about 800 mg becomes bile salts, which is necessary for the digestion of fats.[Guyton, 885] That leaves about 200 available for other functions.”

Now I hadn’t realised this and it just shows how inter-related everything is. It could be an explanation, why I feel so much better with plenty of sunlight.

The article then goes on to describe how anti-cholesterol drugs work, why they are bad etc. and why one of the worst things you can consume is corn oil based fructose.

I’m not sure about the latter and would like any opinions. But I suspect that coeliacs like us consume a bit of the fructose and perhaps more than most.

But I will definitely say that I feel so much better after a few days in the sun and very miserable, if it’s rained continuously for several days, as it has for this summer.

Does anybody else have any thoughts?