Happy National Celiac Awareness Day! Now, I’m not an officially diagnosed celiac myself because I made the error of going gluten free well before seeking testing and I couldn’t get definitive results, but I do eat like a celiac for medical reasons so I feel like one of them.
In the spirit of the day, I thought it might be fun to spread some awareness and list the top 5 things I think gluten-eaters should know about being celiac/gluten intolerant.
1) We’re not just picky eaters – it’s not that we don’t like bread, or fried food. Trust me, most of us spend small fortunes trying to find gluten-free substitutes so that we can eat foods that are normally off limits! In fact, I would say I’m a less picky eater now than I was before, because I’m a lot more likely to try new things if they are okay for me to eat in my eagerness to get more variety in my diet.
2) No, it’s not a choice – sure, for some people like Lady Gaga the gluten-free diet is a fad to lose weight. For celiacs and the gluten intolerant, we don’t choose to be this way. We’re not only going to legitimately get sick if we eat gluten, it can even cause death if left untreated or ignored.
3) Yes, even a little is off limits – there’s no “just a bite” or “just this once” when it comes to gluten, so don’t try to pressure us into trying something we can’t have. In fact, we can get sick if our food comes in contact with anything that contains gluten, from the food itself to the surface it was prepared on. A lot is always worse, sure, but even a stray crumb can be dangerous.
4) Don’t be offended if we bring our own food – we’re not saying we don’t like your cooking. It’s often just easier for us to bring something we know we can eat, rather than pestering our hosts with questions and taking risks with cross-contamination from things gluten households don’t have to worry about, like crumbs in the butter tub. We also already have a lot of the specialty items stocked in our kitchens, like wheat-free soy sauce, so we might bring those things along too. We’re just trying to make your lives easier!
5) Let us pick the restaurant – not only is it stressful to eat out at a place where you have to grill a manager or chef about their menu and hope that they know it well enough and take you seriously enough to serve you a safe meal, but it can also be embarrassing if we’re with people we don’t know well. Chances are, your gluten-free friends know at least one or two places that offer gluten-free menus and have staff trained on proper food handling – and they’re probably going to be better than the place you picked anyway
Big thanks to those of you in my life, namely my wonderful husband, who already know these things well and have been so supportive over the last year and a half. Gluten free would be a lot harder without you!
What would you like the gluten eaters in your life to be aware of?