Coeliac Disease - Fact Sheet


Coeliac disease is a common lifelong digestive condition that affects 1 in 100 people. Coeliac disease occurs when a person has an adverse reaction to gliadin, which is part of the gluten protein found in wheat and other grains such as barley and rye. Gluten is what gives elasticity to bread and other baked goods.

It is important to note that coeliac disease isn't an allergy or intolerance to gluten, it is actually an autoimmune condition. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include nausea and bloating, diarrhoea or constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, sudden or unexpected weight loss and a severe type of skin rash, called dermatitis herpetiformis. Once diagnosed, the only treatment for coeliac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet.

People with Coeliac disease need to eat a gluten-free diet to prevent the symptoms of the disease. If you need to lose weight you require a diet that contains all the vitamins and minerals you need, and which promotes long-term sensible, healthy eating. Healthier for Life follows those principles.

  • Eat regular meals based on starchy carbohydrate such as rice, potatoes, yams, gluten-free grains such as millet, quinoa and teff, gluten-free breads and gluten-free pasta. These foods are a good source of energy and can also provide fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins.
  • Eat plenty of fibre. Good gluten-free sources include brown rice, high fibre/multigrain gluten-free breads, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, and potatoes in their skins.
  • Cut down on salt. Foods particularly high in salt include processed foods, ready meals and snacks. Avoid adding salt to meals and try using herbs and spices to add flavour instead.
  • Limit sugar, sweets, sweet things, cakes, biscuits, pastries and puddings (made with gluten-free ingredients).
  • Choose low-fat foods.
  • Cut down on saturated fats, oils and spreads. Choose lower-fat spread and, low-fat vegan cheeses
  • Gluten-free starchy foods such as rice, potato, gluten-free bread, gluten-free pasta and gluten-free breakfast cereals should be substituted in place of unsuitable products.Make sure you match the calories and portion sizes when making substitutions.
  • Aim to eat five portions of fruit, vegetables and salad each day. Fruit and vegetables are naturally gluten-free.  Check that salad dressing is low in fat.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Use sweeteners such as stevia instead of sugar if you need to sweeten tea or coffee. Choose sugar-free or diet soft drinks.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week. Try to have several days a week where you don’t drink any alcohol and avoid binge drinking. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy then it is recommended that you do not drink alcohol at all.

Be as active as you can everyday. 


If you have Coeliac disease you will already be aware of what you can and cannot eat. We strongly recommend that you consult your doctor or hospital dietitian before starting your weight-loss programme.

For further advice please consult your doctor or registered dietitian. 

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The nutritional advice given is based on sound healthy eating principles. However, it is important that you check with your doctor or GP before following any weight-reducing plan or starting any exercise plan.