How to Befriend a Celiac

I like to think I'm like everyone else (only a little, cough, weirder). While celiac disease doesn't determine a person's entire identity, there are a couple tips that one should keep in mind when befriending a college celiac.

Things a celiac friend should know...
1. Realize we aren't being rude when we turn down offered food. Even if you cooked the "gluten free" brownies yourself, there are other factors a celiac has to consider before digging in. Was there a chance of cross contamination? Was the mix produced in a facility that also processes wheat? And, as I've experienced with my diagnosis, do the brownies contain in any other ingredients that my stomach has a Romeo and Juliet  relationship with? (Dairy, I'm looking at you!) 

I feel awful every time I have to politely refuse a taste of the fish tacos whipped up by our dorm maid for lunch. The guilt can be even worse when friends make food "specially" for me that, because of gluten contamination or other sensitivities, I can't eat

celiac friend or foe gluten free food
Muffin or gluten bomb?
The easiest way to avoid you or the celiac in question from feeling awkward? Ask first, bake or buy later! Just knowing that my friends want to include me makes me feel better able wanting to provide my own food. 

2. Unless you know the celiac well or have been offered food before, don't ask to taste some of their "special" meal. Honestly, I love educating others on the basics of celiac disease. I love showing how delicious eating "gluten free" can be. But, I'm selfish when it comes to my own cooking

gluten free pizza college celiac
One bite for me...another for me...

Why? First, because my food's price tag usually makes your dinner look like a thrift-shop steal! Whether or not a gluten free diet does help people lose weight, it will certainly lighten their wallets! Second, it takes me a lot of time and planning to feed myself. I love cooking for others when it's in my schedule ahead of time, but I often depend on my leftovers to survive a week packed with classes. Not to mention that the cookie I'm enjoying lands on my plate every blue moon - so unless I offer to share, I'm probably planning on savoring every bite!

3. Feel welcome to ask questions and learn more about celiac disease, but please don't draw unnecessary attention to my eating habits. When my boyfriend and I started dating, he was (understandably) curious about the details of celiac. And though he offered to stop asking questions if it made me uncomfortable, I love spreading awareness for my condition. Plus, as I've mentioned in my Dating Post, there are a couple quirks every celiac's significant other needs to know. 

college celiac food gluten free
Or a lot of quirks...
What I don't appreciate is when people make a big deal out of my condition. Yes, I brought my own food to a pizza party because Papa John's would kill me. Yes, I snuck some homemade pizza to the soccer game so I could have a night snack. Friends can lovingly tease me, but I also appreciate it when they don't even comment. Being abnormal is hard enough without people highlighting your every difference! 

4. Please laugh when I make fun of celiac disease, but be careful of cracking gluten free jokes yourself. I try not to take jokes personally. A lot of the times, I know people are referring to those "gluten free fad dieters" and not celiac's like me. But, sometimes those jokes can still hurt. If the NASCAR's "gut check" Super Bowl commercial proved anything, it's that being funny doesn't cancel out offending some audiences. 

Watch the video here!
But when I joke at how I can't kiss my boyfriend without a tooth brush nearby? Please crack up with me. Because celiac disease, in a frustrating way, is funny. And that's always something I try to remember

5. My biggest tip? Don't treat me a celiac any different than any other friend! I'm always grateful when my pals let me choose where we lunch so I can eat, but I'm just as comfortable packing my own food too.

One of the most fun memories I have from last semester is a late-night burrito run with friends the night I was super stressed over finals the next day. I didn't eat with them, having devoured my own dinner hours before. But I jammed along with the radio as Meghan tested her car's killer speakers. I hung out in the restaurant booth, telling jokes and sipping from my free water cup. 


This Pinterest pin just about says it all...
That night, Meghan asked if watching people eat gluten bothered me, and I said no. Why? Because dinner out involves more than food - it also includes friends, funny stories and future plans. And all those are naturally gluten free (as long as cannibalism is avoided, I suppose). 

As a celiac, I don't expect people to act differently with or towards me. Just like any other person, we celiacs just want to be understood, respected, and embraced - quirks and all. And if you do that, well, there may even be some gluten free chocolate cake in your future. 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's Link Party!*


What's your pet peeve in others' behavior towards celiac disease or food allergies? Any tips you would add to this list? Comment below! 



Comments

  1. Watching people eat glutenous food doesn't bother me because I know that if I ate it, it would make me sick. When I first found out I'd have to go GF, I thought it might bother me, so I understand the question. Mostly if something looks good I'm wondering "now, how would I do a GF version of that?"

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  2. Again, another post I love!
    and YES, thank you for saying "don't ask me to share my food" like I honestly get annoyed when that happens, and thought I was the only one. I am selfish because it is expensive, takes effort and time, but more importantly, if I packed it up myself to bring somewhere, it's because I cannot have what everyone else is having, therefore I have a set amount for ME, not for anyone else....

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  3. oh AND the fact that "just because it's GF" doesn't make it safe for me, so frustrating when people insist on me eating the item...

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