Celiac disease


Has anyone had any experience with celiac disease in the ATC? Does anyone suffer from it or know someone who does? I’d like to know what accommodations can be made for us.


What accommodations does your condition require? Law states HQAC have to make reasonable adjustments. I’m not sure there would be an overarching set of arrangements as each person is affected differently.
If this is a question because you feel that you aren’t receiving the required support, you should take it up with the Chain of Command, starting with your CO!


In terms of camps and stuff. The key is to communicate it early doors. They need to inform the mess of your dietary requirements. I once had a cadet who was hardcore vegan and no added sugar. The JRM at Shawbury were really accomidating.

Things like fieldcraft he created his own ration packs. There were a couple of weekends he couldnt do due to them not being able to meet his dietary requirements but these were weekends were food was being provided in field kitchens.


I have to follow a very strict gluten free diet; I’m extremelt sensitive, a single breadcrumb can make me ill for a week


So you need to make it very clear on all consent and application forms. I presume details are on your 3822a (Consent form your parents signed when you joined)?
I would remind your CO and Squadron staff when the issue of meals comes up. If you go on any activity that involves central feeding make sure you speak up and make sure that the Staff are aware if your individual circumstances, the strict diet and the issues around it, as you have done above. Yes, they should know from your consent form, but a polite reminder should make sure you can take full part in activities. As AC states above, Service messes will be accommodating. For them, it’s not something new and would be part of their training to provide a nutritious meal within your requirements.
Hope this helps!


Hello fellow Coeliac! The gluten free world (I occasionally refer to it as fun free) is our very necessary world… I always find it fun to explain to visitors why I have 2 toasters in my kitchen (one for me and one for everyone else).

When visiting military bases, as they’re provided by civilian contractors are generally spammed up on gluten free… HOWEVER as you can’t serve on the frontline and as once diagnosed, many choose to leave the service, there isn’t much by the way of options for you in the mess normally. I have managed 14 omelettes on a 7 day camp for example. You’ll generally be fed, just don’t expect variety. Dry meat and boiled veg is your other mealtime alternative -don’t take the gravy unless they made it specially for you! If you’re a picky eater too then prepare to simply suck it up… generally sandwiches can be provided, as long as they have GF bread, else you’ll have a salad for packed lunches,

Some messes will go out of their way to feed you, particularly if they’ve been warned you’re coming and for how long. Some chefs take immense pride in challenging themselves to try making gluten free tasty!

The biggest challenge you’ll face is getting the message about your dietary requirements passed on. NEVER assume that “they know you’re coeliac,” always remind your staff and ask them if they’ve talked to the mess manager. It’s not you being picky, it’s you preventing the pain you and I know full well (too well!) I’m a staff member that takes particular interest in seeing the cadet dietary requirements are in place (cos then it means mine are too!)
This is where ensuring your TG forms and medical info on squadron is up to date is very important.

There will occasionally be situations when you can’t be accommodated, and will usually be similar to the reason coeliacs can’t serve in frontline positions, or roles that may require “action/field messing”. Ration packs cannot be sourced in gluten free format. You can actually find some camping rehydrated meals now that don’t contain gluten, and they’re not actually made from cardboard (unlike that prescription bread we get -yuck!) If your time away with cadets is fieldcraft you may be able to come to arrangements with staff that you’ll bring your own stuff.

Same for DofE -you’ll be able to plan and bring your own GF meal plan!

If you have any questions I’m happy to help as both a seasoned Coeliac and RAFAC Staff member


I’m not gluten free, but have in the past requested an extra gluten free lunch when I know they’re doing salads - often better than the sandwiches!


To be fair, I’m fairly sure Tesco’s own brand bread uses sawdust instead of wheat flour.


Easy to accommodate that - big plate of sod all! :rofl:


I bet they and or their parents never missed a chance to tell people.


It does seem strange when you can get rat packs for this that and the other and the world in general is more aware of things like Crones and Celiac and other intolerances that this is so difficult. Our son had a mate who had Crohn’s and his mum always used to bring his food to parties etc.
You should be able to peel up to a mess and say I’ve got cadets with this and that and they are geared up to deal with it. OK advanced warning would be better, but it shouldn’t be a necessity.
I don’t include vegetarian and vegan in this as they are, with a few religious and health exceptions, faddy lifestyle choices.


Because there’s a difference between requiring a different type of food for personal reasons and requiring something specific or you get very ill.

There’s an understanding when you’re in that if you normally get vegetarian or halal or kosher or whatever then that will be available to you, but if it can’t get to you, then you’ll eat whatever can be provided. Your operational role comes first.

You can’t treat cadets the same way.

I’m no stranger to the IBD world, I’ve got UC - it’s the reason I came out of the RAF. Without medication I’m a mess.


You’d be surprised what food has gluten in it.
Baked beans?
Potatoes have been dusted with it!
When the MoD gifts the mess a few pennies per person to feed all each meal, the cheaper the source product, the more likely it is to contain gluten.
Genuinely I’ve been offered a jacket potato, newly washed and nuked, with dry tuna from a tin as that was all they could offer. Even the mayo type they had in had barley in!
I couldn’t continue to serve with Coeliac so I don’t go in expecting wonders