5 gluten free lessons learnt living in the UK – Cambio vita, un mese dopo.

Today it’s a month! One month ago, with some unexpected flight issues and after 6 months of non-stopping personal troubles, I left Italy intending to move to the UK.
In these first weeks I had to: start working in a genuine British environment, open a a bank account, get a contract SIM card, get my national insurance number and much more. In one word: settling down. If you are a native citizen it is nothing you have to worry about, but coming from abroad, it could be not so silly as it seems.
Before coming, I spent so much time reading on the web about others’ experiences, most of which plenty of difficulties.

What about mine? Everything went perfect. Maybe I was on the roll, maybe you always need to take off drama from some Italian points of view…anyway, in 20 days I sorted out everything with no stress or troubles. The main thing is that I came here with a job and a house waiting for me. I know that’s what got the whole thing easier. But obviously nothing comes on its own…I had to work hard on it before coming.

Now, if you want to know how it was, I’ll be posting something very soon. In the meanwhile, just keep on reading.


5 things I learnt living in the UK so far:

1. living in the UK as a coeliac seems quite easy. Most of supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury, Co-op, and more) have a special corner with gluten free products. When I arrived, the Co-op close to my office had got just a dedicated shelf. Last week, the one-shelf became two shelves full of gluten free products. Hooray!

2. Most of labels specify allergy advice. They must do it thanks to a recent law…have a look HERE. Anyway, some foods are not so easy to find: apparently, finding gluten free marmalade or jam is almost impossible! I tried to find them in four different chains, and no one of the available labels was suitable for coeliacs. The same with lentils (you know…cross contamination!). I eventually found a tasty gluten free lentils soup at Sainsbury. It’s not the same, but…

3. Be always, always, always careful about cross contamination: lots of people are not aware about it. Always ask. It’s not just about gluten free ingredients. It’s about the whole line of food’s production. Even in recommended venues…I’ll have something to report to the Coeliac UK Association about that!

4. Eating gluten free is quite trendy. Which means much more gluten free stuffs in stores (and that’s apparently a good thing). But the truth (and the worst thing) is that it is something scaring. Two years ago I had the same feeling in New York City, chatting with a local lady who was convinced that eating gluten free is the best and it helps you losing weight. Is there anything wronger?!

5. Eating on the go is quite easy to find, if you keep in mind some hints (have a look HERE). Now Starbucks as well! At Starbucks in Tauton – I went there to get my NIN interview – I found a gluten free falafel ๐Ÿ™‚


More tips and stuffs coming soon. Stay tuned!

This month’s soundtrack: Phoenix – if I ever feel better

2 Responses

  1. Gluten Free Mrs D

    Welcome to the UK! I’m glad your first few weeks have gone well and you’re settling in ok.

    Great post about your findings on gluten free in the UK, but I’m a bit confused about the jam/marmalade. I’ve never seen one labelled not suitable for coeliacs? Are you looking for a jam which specifically says gluten free/suitable for coeliacs? If so, I don’t think you will find one saying that. It’s not thar they are not safe. But (as far as I understand) the EU allergy labelling law requires a manufacturer to list in bold on the label any of the 14 allergens (including gluten). The law does not require a manufacturer to say ‘gluten free or suitable for coeliacs’. These are labels which are added as optional. So you need to check the ingredients. All jam and marmalade should be naturally gluten free. Hope this helps!

    • Francesca Aita

      Hi Mrs D,
      apologies for a late – super late, actually – reply. Your message was in a wide range of spam messages I was about to delete…sorry about that!
      Thanks for your thoughts regarding gluten free jam/marmalade, very helpful indeed.
      The problem I’ve always had with this (at least, in Italy) is the thicken ingredients in addition to sugar and fruit, which sometimes could be not gluten free at all. That’s why the Italian Coeliac Association is used to test and monitor this kind of products as well, releasing a list of the suitable jam/marmalade on a yearly basis. Here in the UK, the gluten-free checklist released by the Coeliac UK Association says they’re naturally gluten free. But, to get everything confused, I’ve found one jam/marmelade labelled as gluten free – I will tell you the brand as soon as I’ll reach my fridge ๐Ÿ˜‰
      As you know, most of the products we need to check should be naturally gluten free, but they’re not. Many thanks again for your contribution, let’s keep updated on this and other gluten free stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚

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