Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Coeliac-friendly lunch in Shepparton

About 20 people gathered for a gluten-free lunch on Wednesday.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK March 21, 2014 6:07am

Right food: Brenda Purden at Wednesday's gluten-free lunch.

Wheat and Runs was the tongue-in-cheek name of a coeliac-friendly lunch in Shepparton on Wednesday.

Coeliac disease occurs when the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats — causing small bowel damage.

The group of 20 people who gathered at Palmira’s Cafe were therefore grateful for the lunch’s completely gluten-free menu, meaning they could enjoy their food without the risk of feeling sick.

Cafe owner Palmira Rigoli and her staff treated diners to a delicious meal of bread and dip, arancini, pizza, ricotta gnocchi, lemon meringue and tiramisu.

While they ate, Wyndham House Clinic’s Shiro Ekanayake spoke to guests about living with coeliac disease and discussed symptoms, diagnosis and support.

Ms Rigoli said she had the lunch during National Coeliac Awareness Week because she wanted to bring together people with the gluten intolerance.

‘‘I just wanted to hold this lunch so people could chat and not feel intimidated,’’ she said.

‘‘Some of the people here are coeliac, others have been newly diagnosed and some have chosen to follow a gluten-free diet.’’

Ms Rigoli said she put on the free lunch with the help of her staff, who donated their time on the day.

‘‘I’m really happy to help people — it’s just in my heart,’’ she said.

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