Living a Gluten Free Life - With Lisa Henare

13 July 2020
img blog lisa henare

Living a Gluten Free Life

For Kiwis living with Coeliac Disease, or eating gluten-free food for health reasons, eating even a stray crumb can cause serious health problems. We created our gluten-free hotdogs so no one needs to miss out and everyone can enjoy Howler goodness.

Lisa Henare is the force behind the glutenfree foodienz blog and a mum of two who loves the simple things in life. She’s shared with us her health journey to becoming gluten-free. Diagnosed seven years ago as a Coeliac, Lisa has learned to live a gluten-free life, along with her family - even if walking down the bread aisle still makes her nose itch.

What has your health journey with Coeliac been like?

I was diagnosed in 2013 after many years of health issues – initially, doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. When I went to a different doctor, he saw the rashes on my palms and soles and said ‘I think I know what this is’, and the rest is history! Sadly, I lost my Mum six weeks later, so I was grieving my Mum while trying to figure out how to be gluten-free.

Before I was diagnosed I was exhausted and sick ALL the time!!  The symptoms were so diverse, crippling migraines, brain fog, sinus infections, anxiety, major joint pain especially my knees. I was always constipated. I was inappropriately gassy! I would have constant infections; my immune system was terrible, and I was visiting my doctor all the time. The final straw was the rashes on my soles and palms along with the stabbing pain (in my small intestine). All very attractive!

Since being diagnosed with coeliac and being gluten-free I have had none of these symptoms! NONE! How crazy awesome is that!   But Coeliac isn't just about being gluten-free, I have to make sure I don’t eat cross-contaminated food. I have yearly blood checks to check my B12, iron levels and everything else in between to make sure my health is on track and maintained.

What’s the key to managing coeliac and being gluten-free?

I have doctors who work alongside me on my health journey - I’m proactive and educated, being Coeliac can make you prone to being low in Vitamin B12 or at risk of other autoimmune diseases. Our family has grown and learnt together. Managing Coeliac at home is easy, we all eat gluten-free if we are sharing a meal.  I have my own toaster, separate butter and apart from that, my family keep me safe by keeping their food separate.  We eat out probably once or twice a week and once we find places that are safe, we stick with them.  Our kids are great little foodies and enjoy what we like. Our favourite takeaway options are Indian, Thai, and Mexican food.

Travelling is stressful, the amount of research and ‘snack-piling’ that takes place is wild! I was so thankful on our last trip to Japan that my husband found the most amazing places that were safe for me to eat! 

Coeliac is much more than just being gluten-free, you need to have regular checkups, lead a balanced lifestyle with exercise, not overdo things and manage stress - but having your health back makes it all worthwhile.

What do you look for when buying gluten-free food?

I always look for the Coeliac NZ safe logo. Howler Gluten-Free hotdogs were one of the first products I purchased when I was diagnosed - seven years later we still keep a box handy in the freezer.

There is much more awareness in New Zealand now, with more gluten-free options at the supermarket. I’m a label reading pro and always check labels without the logo BUT, malt always seems to sneak in there and that's one to look out for - and oats - if you are eating out!  You’ll know a cafe is onto it if they have gluten-free products all on the top shelf and with separate tongs.

Allergies are so annoying! But you can learn to manage them. You know your body better than anyone, so when something doesn’t feel right, it usually means something isn’t right – learn to trust your gut (pun intended!).  Keep asking questions, seek different opinions, and never give up looking for ways to improve your health and wellbeing.

Looking for gluten-free options? We are a Coeliac New Zealand Cross-Grain logo partner.

Check out our GF Howler Hotdogs, or GFTreets Donuts.

Back to Articles