Chef Jimmy Boswell is supporting Coeliac Awareness Week.
Chef Jimmy Boswell is supporting Coeliac Awareness Week.

Chef Jimmy Boswell who is gluten intolerant is supporting Coeliac Awareness Week (18 – 24 May) to raise awareness about coeliac disease.

Boswell says as people become more aware because they have family members with coeliac disease or who are gluten intolerant they are seeking practical food options. He says the food industry is starting to respond to the demand and today there are a variety of great tasting products available for those living with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. “In the early days there weren’t a lot of products to choose from. About 15 years ago there were few gluten free products available off the shelf. People who ate some of those products found some of them tasteless. In my view it started with breads and pastas. I can say that the breads were in general not a nice experience to eat.”

Boswell is a cookbook author, TV Presenter, food writer and is well known around the world as a “Real Food” chef and the Gluten Free Chef. His first cookbook was released by Penguin NZ in July 2012 titled The New Zealand Gluten-Free Cookbook.

He says things have changed with companies today specialising in gluten free products and offering better options for people living with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. “They are putting a lot of time and money into the development of products that are just like the bread we used to eat before having to go gluten free.”

Boswell, who suffered for years before discovering he was gluten intolerant, says it is important to get tested. “I recommend getting tested to anyone who thinks they may have an issue with gluten. If someone has coeliac disease they need to know because of the impact that the disease has on their body. Being gluten intolerant also has major impact on a person’s health.”

“I suffered for upward of ten years. I’m half Sicilian and I love my pasta and my bread but the bloating and gastrological issues were too much. I also felt tired and had skin irritations. Once I decided to look into it, I started to feel much better.”

Boswell, who is passionate about raising awareness about coeliac disease and gluten intolerance, says that it is a privilege for him to be able to help people to create food that the entire family can eat. “Coeliac New Zealand does a great job and they have my support. As a chef when I went gluten free I had to re-think what and the way that I ate. Over the years I have developed hundreds of recipes that are gluten free and I love sharing them with people. I hope the recipes help people live a happy food life that is gluten free. It’s a pleasure for me to help people get well and enjoy life.”

With an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 Kiwis living with coeliac disease and approximately 80 percent of those unaware that they have the condition, Coeliac New Zealand is encouraging Kiwis to get themselves and their families tested this Coeliac Awareness Week.

According to Coeliac New Zealand family members of people with coeliac disease have an elevated risk of testing positive for the disease as the condition is genetic. The genetic link puts family members first in line for coeliac disease as someone living with the condition may have family members who may be at risk.

The condition is a permanent, autoimmune disorder caused by an intolerance or reaction to gluten – found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. It causes the body to produce antibodies which damage the lining of the small bowel and make it impossible for the body to absorb certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from food. If left undiagnosed it can lead to long-term chronic ill-health. Research from around the world shows that coeliac disease is becoming increasingly common due to better testing for the disease.

About Coeliac New Zealand

Coeliac New Zealand is a national non-profit organisation based in Auckland with regional support group leaders based around the country. It supports those with coeliac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis and those on a gluten-free diet through education and collaboration with gluten free manufacturers, medical professionals and supports research. Coeliac New Zealand was established in 1973. www.coeliac.org.nz; www.facebook.com/CoeliacNewZealand

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