Gluten free in Newcastle... we've got this!!!

Guest blog 17.12.2021

By Samantha S.

On November 6th 2020, I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. Before this, I had started to wonder what was affecting my body so much. The bloating, the cramps, the endless trips to the toilet and the constant fatigue. My body was tired of fighting a battle that I didn’t even know it was in yet. 

After speaking to doctors I decided with their advice to start adopting a gluten-free lifestyle. The first week was incredible! My energy spiked and suddenly I could do so much more with my day. I woke up earlier, moved around more and noticed my trips to the toilet almost halved! But soon I noticed that I was eating less and getting more and more frustrated with my lack of knowledge and options of what I could eat. Just as I was getting used to how fantastic I felt, I took a turn for the worse. For the next two weeks my body faught the withdrawal symptoms off the gluten I had recently stopped eating. I was weak and shakey and felt  hungry all of the time. Because I wasn’t replenishing my body with alternatives, I was losing out on calories and vitamins that my body needed. Once I’d stopped, I struggled to pick my appetite back up again. I could barely keep anything down and was sick most days. I worried that my stubbornness towards my intolerance would affect me forever now. 

I fell into a depression and refused most of my food because I was aggravated that I couldn’t just eat what I would normally eat and I felt so sick from the withdrawal. After two weeks, I decided that if I wasn’t better the next day I would phone the hospital to see if they could help me… and as if my request was somehow answered, I woke up feeling much better than I had in the last two weeks. For the first time in a little while I felt hungry for a proper meal. With my mam being gluten-free, we had bread that I could eat and I had some beans on toast to try to slowly bring my appetite back.  After this scare, I knew it was time I fully embraced my intolerance. I needed to stop being so dissapointed in what I’d lost and focus on what I could gain from this. Due to the lack of dough and pastry and takeaways I’d been eating I managed to lose some unhealthy weight I’d been carrying. I used this as a kickstart to begin working out.

Over the length of around 5 months, I was eating regularly and working out 4 times a week. I’d dropped 3 dress sizes and I was healthier than ever before!
I joined gluten-free groups and downloaded apps that would help me identify gluten free foods.  While doing research online, I came across a few websites that recommended fresh gluten free meals such as mince meals, pasta bake and home-made burgers in a gluten free bun. It was like coming out the other end of a dark tunnel! Before my intolerance, I was overweight with unhealthy eating habits and a negative relationship with food and my own medical health. Now that I’ve adopted this new lifestyle I feel the best I’ve ever felt.

I know I will never go back to how things were and I’ll encourage anyone who thinks they might have coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance to speak to your doctor and get the help you deserve.

On my new Instagram page ‘Glutenforpunishment_‘ I’ve started to build up a list of restaurants that do gluten free meals and my opinions on them. The more I can help people come to terms and see the positives of their intolerance, the better. Please check out my reviews on the Instagram page and on Allergy Companions. I’ll be adding more as I explore and discover fantastic new places.

My top recommendations so far:

Fat Hippo, Newcastle: “Not only were the staff very clued up on gluten-intolerance and what item menus did and didn’t have it, they also made sure to reassure me that their prepping was very safe!”

Treats Cafe & Tearooms, Durham: “While in most cafes you have to really think about what you can eat due to most of the snacks being pastry and bread, this place had sandwiches and cakes available for gluten-free customers. I simply asked the waitress what they had and she listed at least half a dozen items that were available to me.”

The Botanist, Newcastle: “The waiters were very communicative and made sure I felt comfortable trusting the food I’d ordered. Their cocktails were unbelievable and the standard their food is cooked at blows me away.”

Bella Italia, Gateshead: “While I usually avoid pizza places due to the lack that offer gluten free (meaning I end up with chips) me and my friends saw that this place did gluten free options and so we thought we’d give it a go.”

Cup & Cake, Gateshead: “I visited cup and cake … and got a gluten free caramel apple pie and a hot chocolate. They were both delicious and I highly reccomend this cafe.”