SILLY-YAK is a fun, creative and enabling children's picture book about a young character named Jack who is struggling with his Coeliac Disease diagnosis. Adjusting his diet and lifestyle have impacted on how he socialises and how he feels about himself making him less like his normal fun, silly self. Join Jack has he steps up to find a better way to deal with his new diagnosis and lifestyle.
Written + Illustrated by Alexandra Rose Mangano
This book is written to encourage young children and their families to imagine more, to do what it takes to live life to the fullest, then most importantly, to remember to have fun, most things are much easier to deal with when fun is added!
Writer + illustrator Alexandra was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease at 13 and found connecting with her creativity and ensuring she had a fun support system allowed her to embrace her new lifestyle in a positive and playful way.
Now, 10 years later, Alexandra works as a children’s entertainer and drama tutor, she fits this in between her many creative, theatrical and performance commitments. All of Alexandra’s projects to date have embraced education and connectivity for those living with and those supporting those living with invisible disease. Alexandra’s passion and long term goal is to enable and inspire people, young and old who live with illness to live the type of life that they hope for, to stay curious and not limit their opportunities.
Thank you to Lake Macquarie City Council for working with us for our book launch!
Introduction to Invisible Diseases and Coeliac Disease
Invisible illness usually refers to any medical condition that is not outwardly visible to others, it encompasses a broad range of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, psychiatric illness, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer.
Jack the Silly-Yak has Coeliac Disease which is an autoimmune disorder. This disease is a condition where the immune system attacks the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten, this damages the gut which stops the absorption of nutrients. Foods with Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat (the B.R.O.W) contain gluten, people with Coeliac Disease must follow a strict gluten-free diet to allow the body to repair and once again absorb nutrients.
Many foods aside from the obvious also contain gluten, these can include sauces, sweets, spreads, spice mixes and pastas to name a few, as little as 50mg of gluten (the size of 2 grains of rice) can cause damage to a Coelaics small intestine. Cross contamination is also dangerous for those with Coeliac Disease, this occurs when a gluten free food item becomes contaminated by either direct or indirect contact with a food containing gluten.
Eating out for Coeliacs can be challenging, but careful prior planning and research can help reduce the risk. Phoning ahead when planning to eat out or starting the conversation with a question about gluten free options for a Coeliac when you first arrive can help. It’s important to feel confident that staff understand what gluten free for a Coeliac means as opposed to gluten free as a lifestyle choice. If not confident with the response, choosing somewhere else to eat is probably a sound decision.
There are many great naturally gluten free foods including fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meats, eggs, nuts and legumes, milk, fats and oils and gluten free grains like rice and corn. There are also many gluten free options available in supermarkets which can make adapting recipes when cooking much easier than in the past.
SILLY-YAK the book talks to three ‘sometimes’ foods which the author, Alexandra, found she missed most when first diagnosed. Alex loves healthy fruit, veg and naturally gluten free foods but found missing out on party foods when celebrating with her friends impacted how she felt most. So when she stepped out to find safe gluten free alternatives which tasted great and successfully found some
she felt more like her old self and confident to have fun and be silly, just like Jack!