How would you feel if common foods such as bread, cakes and pasta were off the menu or a tiny biscuit crumb could make you ill? For the one in 100 people who have coeliac disease this is an everyday, lifelong reality. Hilarie Stelfox meets a six-year-old sufferer from Linthwaite
LYLA MARTYN can’t remember a time when she didn’t eat ‘special’ food.
Diagnosed aged three with coeliac disease – an auto-immune problem caused by an intolerance to gluten – she has to avoid many common everyday staples, including those that most children like best.
Pizza, crisps, chocolate bars – they’re all off the menu for the six-year-old.
Instead, she has to have special gluten-free foods. If she’s invited to a birthday party she has to take a packed meal and knows she can’t share what everyone else is having.
At school – she attends Linthwaite Junior, Infant and Early Years School – catering staff prepare gluten-free options for Lyla and two other young coeliac sufferers.
When her family have a holiday or a day out they have to seek out gluten-free foods in restaurants and cafes or take food with them.
Fortunately for Lyla both her parents – Julie Sutcliffe and Nick Martyn – are familiar with the problems faced by people with coeliac disease as each of them has a parent who has had the disease.
Nick’s mum, Pauline Martyn, was diagnosed in her 40s with the condition after suffering from a lifetime of stomach complaints.
Now in her 60s, she is secretary of Calderdale and Huddersfield Coeliac Group which is affiliated to the national organisation Coeliac UK.
Julie’s father, David Boothroyd (who died last year), had a rare form of gluten intolerance that caused a skin problem.
Because there was a family history of coeliac disease, both Julie and Nick were careful when weaning their own two children. Lyla has a seven-year-old brother Cole, who hasn’t inherited the problem.