5 Questions Celiacs Don't Want to Hear

As a celiac who blogs to increase awareness, particularly among the college crowd, I'm used to receiving lots of questions. From fellow students: "What are you eating?" From online readers: "How do you cope?" And from acquaintances: "A blog? What's that about?"

Honestly, I love the questions. It means I'm doing something right - at least to the extent that people are thinking or having their previous conceptions challenged. But there a few questions that no celiac wants to hear - or to answer. Five common ones in my experience, anyway.

Some common reactions...
1. But don't you miss a big, thick, cheesy slice of pizza from Pizza Hut? Or a burger from In-N-Out? Or *insert any mouthwatering, gluten-stuffed edible concoction here*

How do I usually reply? Something, depending on the audience, like: Hell yeah! I miss my post-soccer-practice brownie and ice cream sundaes, my peanut butter (no jelly) sandwiches and family dinners from a greasy take-out container. But being reminded of what I miss ain't helping nobody. It just makes focusing on what I can eat - granola, stuffed potatoes, mug cakes and more - even harder.

2. What can you even eat?

This is a related question, but even more common. When people hear the words "gluten free," they usually don't know what that entails. Vegan? A bowl of rice (or does that have gluten, too)? A sad plate of wilted veggies and lettuce leaves? (All of which, most thankfully, are not true!)

This gluten free college gal spills five questions celiacs don't want to hear
People don't usually think of these...
I don't mind curiosity about my diet, but I do mind when people imply that I must be dying without gluten in my life. Yes, I have limits. Yes, I can't eat a lot of things. But my list of what I can eat is just as long (or even longer) than what I can't. Which makes this question not only negative, but also the opener to a very long laundry list of answers!

3. At least it keeps you skinny, right?

This happens more than you'd think. Maybe it's because, at first glance, I fit the stereotypical Cali girl model: skinny and white on a "special" diet. Or maybe it's because when most college girls were fretting about gaining the Freshman 15, I worried about losing it. I specifically remember a gorgeous blonde telling me freshman year: "I wish I had celiac so I could be skinny like you."

This gluten free college gal spills five questions celiacs don't want to hear
Skinny doesn't equal healthy or happy!
First off, not everyone with celiac is skinny. Some can't lose weight as an undiagnosed celiac; some gain weight after diagnosis (thanks to finally receiving nutrients). Likewise, not everyone who is skinny has celiac. And, honestly, I'd trade you ten pounds for a slice of that pepperoni pizza.

4. You going to make your boyfriend/husband give up gluten too?

Society and the media tends to paint people who follow certain diets (for medial or personal reasons) as vultures trying to "convert" others into the cult of *insert the name of fad diet here*. It's true that, if someone is experiencing health issues and asked me whether going gluten free could help, I would probably reply that they should discuss it with their doctor. It helped me (and my gluten-intolerant Mom), and it could help someone else with fibromyalgia, gut problems, celiac (obviously), etc.

People view us something like this...
To be honest, though, I don't believe most people should go gluten free. In fact, when people ask if they can eat gluten in front of me, I say go for it! Someone should be enjoying it! So will I make my (imaginary future) significant other go gluten free? To an extent, I will probably ask (if we share a living space) that they limit the gluten products in the house - such as by only having a couple cabinets of gluten items (like cereal, bread, crackers, etc) that don't have easy, GF replacements. But if we go out to eat and they want a big, wheaty burger? Please do!

(Just brush your teeth before kissing me!)

5. Can I have some of that?

Now this last question depends a lot on the context. If the person asking is a friend or family member who understands how much effort and time I put into my food, then I'm flattered that they're curious and don't mind giving them a taste of the gluten free life. If it's a random stranger, acquaintance or someone who has a perfectly decent (gluten-filled) sandwich already sitting on their plate?

This gluten free college gal spills five questions celiacs don't want to hear
That non dairy ice cream is alllll mine!
It's annoying. It's frustrating. It can even feel a bit disrespectful because, while this person can go to the Caf and eat anything without worry, they would rather try my "special" food (that I actually need to eat). I enjoy cooking for friends when I know ahead of time, they pitch in for the ingredients and I don't have those leftovers already entered into my weekly meal plan.

When I instead feel pressured to say, "Sure" even though my meal's GF ingredients are expensive or I'm short on time to cook, the questions leaves - at the very least - quite the bittersweet aftertaste.

Whether they're about my blog or my celiac, I never mind answering questions. Some questions, though, can feel just as harmful to a celiac as gluten. My biggest advice: think about how it would feel walking in a celiac's shoes (to the fridge or pantry) before you start asking questions.

This gluten free college gal spills five questions celiacs don't want to hear
Granola is also acceptable...
And maybe bring a plate of (gluten free certified) cookies with you!



Have you ever been asked these questions? What is the one celiac question that bothers you? Comment below!





Comments

  1. The ignorance :/ Anytime someone's diet is different than "yours" people get so weird and judgy :/

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    Replies
    1. So true! I definitely fit the "skinny white witch" stereotype at first glance, especially when I say "gluten free."

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  2. "At least you feel better, right?" Nope. My painful migraines have turned into silent migraines, but that's the only change.

    And this one isn't a question, but I dislike "At least it's not cancer!" Yeah, it's good that it's not cancer, but other people having it worse doesn't make what I (and two of my kids) go through negligible. I also dislike "Oh, that's so easy now! Every restaurant has it!" Every restaurant doesn't have it, and they sure don't all have it safely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not a question, but indeed so true! I'm grateful that celiac isn't fatal, but that doesn't make it any easier.

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