Megan McKenna opens up about ‘rough childhood’ after unknowingly ‘poisoning’ herself

X Factor Celebrity: Megan McKenna is crowned the winner

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Megan McKenna, 29, says that she had “quite a rough childhood” as she was “poisoning” herself with food she didn’t know she couldn’t eat. Megan was unknowingly battling coeliac disease before her diagnosis at the age of 10 and was plagued by excruciating symptoms like stomach aches, bloating and diarrhoea.

The condition means that Megan’s immune system would attack and damage her gut whenever she ate gluten.

In a new interview with, Megan says her condition had a particularly adverse effect on her childhood.

She explained: “I was very, very skinny when I was 10 and that was when I was diagnosed with everything.  

“It did take a few years to get myself strong again because I had been basically poisoning myself by eating the food I didn’t know I couldn’t eat for so many years.

“Back then, coeliac disease wasn’t known so I had quite a rough childhood.

“But I think I am lucky that I went through it when I was younger because now I am so much healthier and I know what I can and can’t have.  

“I had to go for numerous tests and I had a homeopath so I could be guided in the right way.”

Despite eventually receiving the diagnosis, Megan’s struggles would continue into secondary school as she felt “embarrassed” about being “different”.

She recalled: “Anyone that is starting secondary school wants to just fit in, not be different…but I always knew that I had problems.  

“Back in the day, gluten free food was diabolical. You couldn’t have just a sandwich because the bread was so hard and cake-like, so my mum used to make me a box of food for school. 

“I used to feel embarrassed and like I was different. The kids in school could be really mean. I had people say to me, ‘Why are you eating that? Why aren’t you queueing up?’, just silly things that used to embarrass me.

“So I used to eat my food on the stairs, and I did that quite often. I would rather eat on my own in peace rather than have people think that I had something wrong with me.”

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The reality star has now decided to help others suffering with the condition.

The X Factor: Celebrity winner has released a gluten-free cookbook called Can You Make That Gluten-Free?

It features 80 recipes with everything from “starters to cakes, posh dinners and cheaper meals”.

Discussing the book, Megan explained: “If people follow the recipes in my book they will be really surprised.

“I think people get so scared when you say ‘gluten-free’.  

“They think they have to eat something really plain and boring, but you can make everything gluten-free.”

Can You Make That Gluten-Free? By Megan McKenna is published by Hamlyn, £20.00,

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