Find out more about coeliac disease and North Devon’s gluten free offerings here.

FINDING gluten free food a decade ago would have been a nightmare, but now North Devon is full of choices for those suffering with coeliac disease.

Research suggests one in 100 people in the UK suffer from coeliac disease, which is an autoimmune condition causing the lining of the gut to be damaged when a sufferer eats gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, and those with coeliac disease cannot eat many foods such as bread, cakes, biscuits, pasta, or many processed foods.

According to the charity Coeliac UK, only 10 to 15 per cent of those with the disease are diagnosed, which is why it is running Gut Feeling Week from May 13-19.

The campaign aims to encourage those who suffer any symptoms, including bloating, diarrhoe and sudden weight loss, or have been diagnosed with IBS without being tested for coeliac disease first, to visit their GP.

Sue Pitt, chairman of the North Devon Coeliac UK Group, has been living without gluten for 15 years.

“When you first get diagnosed, finding places to eat out is one of the worst things,” she said.

“But it has changed dramatically now and it is a lot easier to find places in North Devon where you can have a gluten free meal.”

North Devon businesses offering gluten free food include the Custom House in Barnstaple, which offers gluten free burger buns, starters and desserts.

Fat Belly Fred’s also offer the majority of their menu gluten free, and Lilicos are working on the launch of their new menu to include gluten free options.

For those who fancy a sweet treat, East and West Bakery in Butchers Row have an offering of gluten free cakes as well as fresh bread made to order.

In Appledore, 9 The Quay offer gluten free cakes, soups and risottos, and on Wednesday nights run a fish and chip night selling gluten free battered smoked salmon, scampi and other varieties of fish.

“We get about a dozen new members a month joining us and we’re up to about 200 members now, so the amount of people on a gluten free diet is definitely growing,” said Sue.

For more information on coeliac disease and its symptoms, and a list of gluten free places to eat in North Devon, visit www.coeliac.org.uk.