When you tell someone you’re a coeliac, you’re often met with a blank stare followed by questions such as  “is that got something to do with seals?”, “is that one of those funny religious cults?”, “excuse me?”. It’s when you start reeling off the never ending list of foods that you can no longer have that they suddenly embrace you in a sympathetic hug and quietly ask – “is it contagious?”

To be honest with you, I didn’t have the foggiest idea what coeliac disease was, and when I did find out, it took me forever to learn how to say it, let alone spell it! When the doctor said the words ‘disease’ it did throw me into a mini panic. It was only when he started telling me all the things I will no longer be able to eat; bread, pasta and my beloved pot noodle, that I curled up into a ball and whispered “not my pot noodles!”

The thing was, I was in my first year of University. I was having a pretty hard time and I thought that those were the reason behind my stomach problems. I remember during the time before my diagnosis I was hell bent on believing it was rice behind my tummy woes. I remember ordering a take out curry and opting for the naan bread instead! Oh how wrong I was!

Being told I had coeliac disease did throw the spanner in the works. I loved my wheat laden foods,  especially my wheat filled ready meals! I couldn’t cook and could just about toast some bread without setting my dorms on fire. On top of that, I found myself in unfamiliar territory   in the ‘gluten free aisle’, looking at strange sounding foods and then eyeing up the price tag and having a cardiac arrest – “£2.90 for a small loaf of bread!!”

Finding out you have coeliac disease can be really tough and in all honesty, it took me a while to really embrace it and get my head round it. It’s a whole lifestyle change and sometimes it’s hard to let go of old habits, especially if you’re anything like me, who relied heavily on ready meals and take outs. So finding out I had to cook my own foods from scratch drove me to despair! I had to learn to cook and fast!

Which is why I started my blog The Gluten Free Student Cookbook, to show others that you don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to be able to cook edible and great tasting food. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve burnt gluten free cupcakes or tried to find the easiest way to make gluten free tortilla wraps! But with every food disaster I encountered [and believe me, there’s been plenty], I had to keep going and to never give up. As I mention many times on my blog, I’m not a Michelin star chef, but if little Saara from Yorkshire can cook a gluten free pizza from scratch, then anyone can!

If you’re reading this and feel like how I felt when I was diagnosed with coeliac disease or if you find yourself confused, please come visit my blog. There is a ‘contact me’ page which sends me an email where I’d be more then happy to help, give advice or we can both moan about how it’s not fair to never have McDonalds again! Things do get better, it just takes a some time.

Visit me at www.glutenfreestudentcookbook.co.uk/



My name is Saara [pronounced ‘Sarah’]. I hail from West Yorkshire, but have lived in Manchester since 2006. I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease back in 2007 when I was studying to become a social worker at Manchester Metropolitan University. I started The Gluten Free Student Cookbook in April 2011.

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