After being diagnosed with coeliac disease more than a decade ago, Palmira Rigoli knew her life would be more difficult.
The Shepparton woman knew she would have to monitor and restrict everything she ate — or risk becoming seriously ill to the point where she could not function through everyday tasks.
After a number of years abstaining from social gatherings and suffering from a limited and boring diet, Mrs Rigoli decided to turn this negative into a positive and find her own solution to her debilitating illness.
‘‘I had developed many recipes that were a gluten-free twist on traditional Italian cuisine and was better able to cater for my dietary requirements as well as cater for my growing family,’’ she said.
‘‘I knew for me to be able to eat tasty and nutritional food I had to come up with a solution.’’
Mrs Rigoli’s philosophy is that with such an abundance of delicious, fresh foods available, you should be able to create wonderful, healthy food at little cost — eat and enjoy good food while keeping to a budget and looking after you and your family’s health.
She started sharing her delicious recipes with friends and other coeliac sufferers and finally put together a cookbook that has helped thousands of fellow sufferers.
The busy mum of three is thankful she has been able to navigate her way through the minefield of dietary problems and suffering and revels in the chance to share her knowledge with other sufferers.
‘‘I’ve learnt so much on my journey as a coeliac so far, and I hope to be able to spread the word that a coeliac’s diet does not have to be tasteless, boring and limited to a handful of staples.
‘‘I have become quite a campaigner to educate people about this disease, and have helped many people on their way to diagnosis through talking openly about it, particularly during Coeliac Awareness Week.’’
Mrs Rigoli said she wanted to get the word out so sufferers could have confidence in eating out.
‘‘I want to educate restaurants and cafes for catering purposes and so they take extra care to stop cross-contamination.’’
Her Totally Gluten Free brand of products are backed by extensive research and the products are designed to make managing gluten sensitivity much easier and tastier.
Mrs Rigoli’s products can be purchased at independent outlets such as supermarkets as well as her store at 28 Keppel St, Shepparton.
For more information about her products, phone Palmira Rigoli on 0407873803.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder occurring in genetically susceptible individuals that results in an abnormal immune response to dietary gluten.
One in 70 Australians are affected, but the broad clinical presentation means that coeliac disease is often overlooked — four out of five Australian sufferers remain undiagnosed.
Symptoms often go unrecognised or patients may be asymptomatic. Targeted screening of at-risk patients is the most effective way to detect coeliac disease.
Untreated coeliac disease is associated with a range of complications, including: nutrient deficiencies; premature osteoporosis; abnormal liver function; higher rates of other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disease; infertility and poorer pregnancy outcomes; sepsis; and some forms of malignancy, especially lymphoproliferative disorders such as lymphoma.
Strict removal of gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats — from the diet can arrest the damaging inflammatory immune response caused by gluten and is important to reduce morbidity and mortality.
Symptoms and signs that should prompt testing for coeliac disease:
Chronic or intermittent gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating or flatulence.
Prolonged fatigue (‘tired all the time’).
Iron deficiency anaemia or nutritional deficiency.
Sudden or unexpected weight loss.
Dental enamel defects or mouth ulcers.
Low-trauma fracture or premature osteoporosis.
Infertility or recurrent miscarriage.
Abnormal liver function tests (especially elevated transaminases).
Peripheral neuropathy, ataxia or epilepsy.
From: Coeliac Australia