It's exciting to be starting a new life, new horizons, new friends and new situations. Maybe you are going to university, world travelling or moving into your own place.
Having coeliac disease needn’t stop you, but there are few things to bear in mind, especially if you will be living with people who don’t understand coeliac disease or what gluten free really means. But remember to be confident about it - it's part of you and people will understand once you speak to them.
It is important that everyone you share your living space with understands the importance of you sticking to your diet. Although you won’t have a life threatening reaction if you eat gluten, it will damage the lining of your gut and mean you are unwell.
To help you, we have produced our Moving On pack which will guide you through what to look for and ask for in different situations, such as:
- how to have an easy conversation about gluten with the new people in your life
- keeping your food and ingredients free from contamination
- cooking and preparing food safely
- getting your new healthcare provisions in place
- using the ingredients label to tell if a food is safe for you
- eating at a group event or occasion
- living gluten free on a budget
- going out and having fun and avoiding gluten
- staying healthy when travelling around the world.
The pack also has information on raising awareness of coeliac disease while at University and how to get involved with Coeliac UK’s Gluten free Under Thirties (GUTs) Group and other avenues for support.
Order your copy of our Moving On pack to help you transition from a life at home to being independent and in charge of your own well being. You can download the booklet at the bottom of this page, or complete an order form to get sent the full pack including recipe cards, toaster bags and handy GF food labels.
Festivals can be tricky to eat at because a lot of the food is fast food and on the go which is usually gluten containing like pizzas, burgers and noodles. To make sure you aren’t stuck for food, bring your own food like fruit, gluten free pretzels and gluten free biscuit packs. These will be light to carry in your rucksack and will also make suitable snacks throughout the day.
If you want a warm meal then a lot of stalls do jacket potatoes which will be naturally gluten free and filling. It is also a good idea to speak to chilli or chicken stalls and ask about their ingredients. Check with the servers about ingredients, cross contamination and highlight what you need for your diet.
For something like chips, you should ask the chef if you can read the ingredients on the packaging and then check they’re being cooked in a separate fryer to any fish or other food sold at the stall. Often the chefs and servers are very friendly will have a sign saying ‘if you need any allergy advice please feel free to ask’, then you know they are confident with the information they are providing and are willing to help you.
Alcohol - aged 18 years+
Cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs are all suitable for people with coeliac disease and there are some speciality gluten free beers, lagers, stouts and ales available. You can find a list of specially manufactured gluten free beers, lagers and ales in the Drinks section of your Food and Drink Guide, or if you are a Member, on our online Food and Drink Information and our Gluten Free Food Checker app.
There are two types of gluten free beer – naturally gluten free and gluten removed. For both types, by law, manufacturers can only label their beer gluten free if it contains 20 ppm or less of gluten (the legal definition of gluten free). In addition, a beer made from barley must, by allergen labelling law, state on the labelling that it ‘contains barley.’ You can find out more about how gluten free beer is made and tested by clicking here. More information about fermented and hydrolysed products, such as beer, can also be found in this article.
All spirits are distilled during the manufacturing process, so even when a cereal that contains gluten as an ingredient is used, this process removes any trace of gluten. Therefore, all spirit drinks (including malt whisky which is made from barley) are safe for people with coeliac disease.
Please remember that alcohol can have side effects whether or not you have coeliac disease. Check out the NHS website for more information on Alcohol.
Support from your doctor
If you are moving away from home, register with a new GP as soon as possible to ensure you get food on prescription and your annual health check.
Coeliac UK has a Facebook page, Local Groups and a Gluten free Under Thirties (GUTs) Group where you can share experiences with other people with coeliac disease.
Coeliac Youth of Europe is the youth group of the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS). It runs summer camps for people to get together to have fun in a gluten free environment.