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Gluten free not a problem for Kitty

GLUTEN FREE TREATS: Kitty Finney tucks in to some home made Gluten Free Cupcakes for coeliac awareness week.
GLUTEN FREE TREATS: Kitty Finney tucks in to some home made Gluten Free Cupcakes for coeliac awareness week. Ali Kuchel

DOUGHNUTS, cookies and cream ice-cream and croissants are just three things Lockyer Valley's Kitty Finney would love to eat.

But she knows how sick these three gluten-filled items can make her.

Kitty has Coeliac Disease, a serious autoimmune illness which affects one in seven Australians.

While reactions from consuming gluten might not present until the following day, Kitty knows it's not worth eating something containing gluten.

"When I was four I kept on getting sick the next day after I ate something with wheat and gluten in it,” Kitty said. Kitty was terribly underweight, she had hair loss and was malnourished and it took a year of doctor visits to find out what was affecting her. Her mum Sheree Finney said within days of excluding gluten from her diet, Kitty improved.

"At first it was really hard, but there's a lot more choices available now compared to four years ago,” Mrs Finney said.

This week, March 13-17 is Coeliac Awareness Week, which aims to increase awareness about the disease and diagnosis.

Symptoms aren't just limited to feeling sick after eating gluten, but can include low iron levels, tiredness, unexplained infertility and low levels of vitamins and minerals.

And according to Coeliac Australia, four out of five Australian's remain undiagnosed.

But despite many Australians living with Coeliac Disease, the removal of gluten from one's daily intake has become a fad diet.

Mrs Finney said while it was a bonus more and more people were eating gluten free, which has promoted companies to produce more gluten free options, the need to understand cross contamination was a big issue.

"I know a lot of coeliacs don't take the 'may contain' statements or if it's touched something seriously,” Mrs Finney said. "With cross contamination, people say 'a little bit won't hurt', but a little bit will hurt.

"While Kitty isn't going to go into anaphylactic shock, you wouldn't say the same thing to someone who has a severe peanut allergy.”

Cross contamination is a big issue for the Finney family, so much so, Kitty has her own toaster, cooking spoon and chopping board.

Topics:  coeliac disease lockyer valley


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