Coeliac and blood sugar levels

by julie seymour
(cheltenham UK)

When I was born in 1968 no one really knew what coeliac disease was. When it came time to wean me, my mum used Farley's rusks and milk, like her mum had done before her. I lost weight at an alarming rate, going down to 6 pounds at 6 months old! The doctors put me in hospital for tests but no one looked at my diet.


My parents decided to take me on holiday against medical advice and we went camping. I looked like I was a famine victim or something, stick-thin limbs and a huge bloated stomach.

Because it was easier, my mum mashed up potato and gravy instead of rusks. I put weight on and seemed to recover the doctors said it a stomach virus and I was better.

So followed 6 years of kidney infections and stomach viruses till my brother was born and diagnosed coeliac. He got bread and flour on prescription and my mum put the whole family on a GF diet as it was easier.

Hey presto! Not only my complaints cleared up but so did my Dad's. It turned out he was coeliac too. Going further back it has since turned out that my maternal grandfather who died before I was born, of stomach cancer, may have been coeliac too as there is proof that some forms of stomach cancer can be caused by undiagnosed coeliac.

We went back to the doctors who said just because one family member needed to be gluten free it didn't mean I also needed to be, even though I was a lot better on the diet. They didn't mind if I went GF, however, they advised against it, but said it was up to my parents what I ate.

On a gluten free diet I gained weight. A lot of it! I was a teenager complete with a muffin top tum and about 3 rolls around my tum but still thin arms and legs. As I was within normal limits doctors did nothing, just told me the usual, cut down sugars and fats etc.

But I was a sugar addict. I ate so much chocolate I made myself allergic to it but still had to eat every 3-4 hours or I felt dizzy and sick, with pins and needles in my face, hands and feet. It was almost like i was diabetic and crashing so I had tests for diabetes and Thyroid, all clear.

Time goes on I had two daughters (who I kept totally gluten free until they were two years old and they are fine. The youngest, shows some signs if she eats too much bread.

I still weighed too much. By this time I weighed nearly 14 stone and had tried every diet going. I had given up on slimming clubs who told me "eat what we say and you will lose weight".

I was fed up looking and feeling like a house. My joints hurt and my blood sugar was all over the place. I needed to keep something to eat with me at all times or I could faint or pass out.

The doctors said I needed to lose weight but I knew more than their dietitians. It seemed hopeless I would diet really hard for about two weeks before losing even 1 pound, then get fed up and cheat.

This all changed when I heard that Coeliac was an autoimmune syndrome not a disease. I discovered my IBS could be connected, as well as a condition called Hypoglycemia, which means you can not control your blood sugar levels.

When the body gets food it then releases insulin to combat the rise in blood sugar levels which pushes the food into the tissues or out of the body in waste products.

However, according to research done in the US, in some coeliacs too much insulin is produced and the tissues become swamped with it. They cannot absorb the food so the body makes fat and you stay hungry because the body is not burning it just turning it too fat. The levels of insulin mean you crave sweet things which just raise sugar levels so the body produces more insulin. This viscous circle means you feel hungry and tired all the time.

A low GI diet means you eat food which does not raise your blood sugar levels. It gives you the food your body needs with out trigging the insulin.

Anthony Warrell Thompsom has written a book that makes it simple and it has some lovely recipes. Food you thought was good like cornflakes, jacket potatoes and rice cakes are bad! And things like buckwheat, quinoa and some fresh fruit are good.

You don't have to starve to lose weight and best of all if you follow it strictly for just one week you will see a difference.

I feel much better, more human, and no longer too tried to breathe and I lost weight.

I have been following the low GI gluten free diet since Jan and have gone from 13.8 stone to 11.5 (in 8 months) and my BMI has gone from 41 to 27.

All the weight that has been in rolls, most of my life, has gone! It is wonderful and my husband is delighted too.

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Sep 09, 2007
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Sounds familiar
by: Carol

Julie, thank you for sharing your story of your troubles with coeliac disease and your weight.

I almost felt I was reading my own story, even down to the camping holidays as a kid.

I will be adding some pages about low GI eating to the site and would love you to share any recipes that you found useful.

Well done on the weight loss, that is terrific!

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