Coeliac Society of Ireland launch Awareness Week 2021

Mental health and wellbeing will be on the menu for Coeliac Society of Ireland Awareness Week 2021

Coeliac Awareness Week 2021

Phil Saunders receiving her gluten free pack.

Coeliac Awareness Week 2021 is being celebrated later this month.

Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease, where the affected individual reacts abnormally when gluten is ingested. The intestine becomes inflamed and damaged resulting in poor absorption of essential nutrients. Gluten is a protein found in many foods including bread, pasta, gravy, soy sauce and beer.

There is no cure for coeliac disease and the only treatment is a gluten-free diet. Annual medical check-ups are also advised.

Coeliac Awareness Week 2021 will take place from May 10 to 14 and mental health and wellbeing will be on the menu, alongside all manner of gluten free goodies.

Sponsored by Promise Gluten Free, this year’s event will focus on the impact that a year of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns has had on both the physical and mental wellbeing of 50,000 coeliac sufferers in Ireland.

Coeliac Awareness Week 2021 will be a five-day virtual event with a range of talks, health clinics, demonstrations and activities. A mindfulness seminar and talks from a psychologist and a sleep expert will help attendees identify the mental health indicators that so many people miss or ignore, while also providing advice and insight into how to balance their mental wellbeing.

There will also be advice from the nutritional experts, dietetic consultations, cooking demonstrations by leading chefs, and fun activities for younger members of the family.

Coeliac Society CEO Gill Brennan said: “The last year has been a challenge for everyone and this year’s Coeliac Awareness Week, which is kindly supported by Promise Gluten Free, is designed to support Ireland’s coeliac and gluten-free community with a mix of fun and educational events for all the family.

“However, based on feedback from our members, this year we also wanted to address some of the psychological effects of the coronavirus and lockdowns, as well as discuss potential coping strategies to deal with living with coeliac disease and severe gluten intolerance.

“There are an estimated 50,000 people with coeliac disease in Ireland – and almost 37,000 of them are undiagnosed. If these people are consuming any gluten it will significantly reduce their ability to absorb the nutrients they need for their body need to function healthily. And we know from numerous studies that a poor diet can have a devastating effect on one’s mental health.

“Even for those who are diagnosed with coeliac disease or severe gluten intolerance, it can be difficult to articulate the enormous pressures felt around many daily activities that many of us take for granted. As we start to emerge from a third Covid-19 lockdown, they will feel the pressure of simple things such as planning to visit a friend’s house for dinner or heading to a restaurant. For coeliac children and their parents, just navigating lunchtime at school can be a minefield.

“Coeliac Awareness Week will provide those attending with an opportunity to explore these issues with the experts and, for those who need it, help them discover coping mechanisms to improve their daily lives. We see this as a wonderful opportunity to also raise awareness amongst the public of these important subjects," said Gill Brennan.

The events planned over the week include educational talks with professional nutritionist Sarah Keogh, psychologist Mary Borton, sleep expert Tom Coleman, as well as fun activities for kids, a cooking demonstration with chef Tony Dempsey of the Bay Tree Restaurant, Teaching Wellness through laughter with Louise Burchall and more.

Mary Horkan, Senior Marketing Manager of Promise Gluten Free bakery, said: “Balancing nutrition with physical and mental health is something that Promise Gluten Free is very much passionate about. So we’re delighted to sponsor Coeliac Awareness Week once again and we look forward to a fantastic schedule of fun and invigorating events that will allow us to come together virtually to gain invaluable insights into improving our health and wellbeing.”

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