Hospitality Business Magazine

Chef champions coeliac awareness

rsz_jimmy-boswell-3Chef Jimmy Boswell is gluten intolerant and supporting Coeliac Awareness Week 18 – 24 May to raise awareness about coeliac disease and gluten intolerance.

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.”

He says things have changed with companies today specialising in gluten free products and offering more yummy 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.”

In 2003 Boswell was working with a gluten free company on product development and became aware that his body may have an issue with gluten. Since then he has been tested twice and while he does not have coeliac disease, he is very reactive to gluten in any form.

“I recommend getting tested to anyone who thinks they may have an issue with gluten,” he says. “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.”

It was Boswell’s GP who suggested that he get tested. “My first test came back negative. Then when I was in hospital suffering from a serious reaction to gluten and soy that the second test showed I was gluten intolerant.”

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.”

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 that 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.

Coeliac New Zealand’s Coeliac Awareness Week kicks off on 18 May this year with the aim of increasing understanding of the disease among New Zealanders and the medical fraternity and encouraging Kiwis to get themselves and their families tested.