Why I Shared my Celiac Status on my First Day of Work

Today marked a milestone for this college celiac. This last Monday, I drove to my first 9 to 5 "job" (a paid internship, but that's close enough, right?) - accompanied, of course, by a cooler filled with gluten free food. Butterflies of the usual kind filled my stomach, but also worries like, "Will people think my food is weird? How will lunches with co-workers go? Will the fridge be safe?"

After officially surviving my first week, I can now say that I am absolutely in love with the people, purpose and atmosphere of my internship. (And you will definitely be hearing more about my work as an Editorial Intern for Entity Magazine soon!) I also couldn't be happier that I chose to share my celiac status on my first day of work - and here are the four reasons why you should too!

casey the college celiac
From your favorite gluten free goofball...
1. Bosses may try to modify food-related office activities to fit your dietary needs.

Thanks to an email the night before, I walked into the office knowing that a bagel party would greet me. I wasn't worried; as usual, I had brought my own breakfast to eat (my favorite oatless zoats for all those who don't follow me on Instagram!). Imagine my surprise and appreciation when my boss motioned towards a jar of fruit that had been specially set aside for me. I had actually informed her of my celiac disease during the job interview because part of my resume, believe it or not, is this blog!

casey the college celiac oatless zoats
My usual breakfast to-go...
Not every boss will have the time or means to accommodate your diet. However, people can only try to include you in office eating if they know your dietary limitations to begin with!

2. It prevents having to explain your "special" food to each co-worker individually.

I didn't stand up in the middle of our first office meeting and yell, "I have celiac disease!" (That would be frowned upon, I do believe, in most workplaces). However, I explained why I wasn't eating bagels like everyone else during small talk with my fellow interns and, when my boss asked what kind of articles I'd be especially interested in writing, I mentioned food-related topics and my blog.

casey the college celiac pizza
And an easy dinner...
By my second day of work, everyone already knew about my eating from the day before. This means I didn't have to waste time answering questions about my "special" pizza (which, if I do say so myself, is especially delicious) with individual co-workers. I could just work and eat - while only sending a few jealous glances at the gluten-filled donuts everyone else enjoyed.

3. Without anything to "hide," there isn't any anxiety about your eating habits either.

One of the most nerve-wracking moments of my first day, ironically enough, was our lunch break. In typical first-day fashion, all the interns wanted to go eat together. I already knew that most nearby restaurants didn't speak "celiac" (thank you Find Me Gluten Free app!) and I ate a late and large breakfast for exactly that reason.

casey the college celiac walks
Lunch breaks are meant for walkin'...
In the end, though, I ended up joining the other girls as they walked to a nearby deli. I sat in the booth as they devoured their sandwiches (pesto bread is apparently a thing - and I definitely must re-create it soon!) and, besides the odd remark that my celiac must be a "bummer," no one cared that I was savoring the atmosphere instead of the food. The truth is that once people know the reason for "odd" behavior, they usually lose interest. Not only was lunch a great break from sitting in an office, but it also let me bond with the girls I'll be working with the next nine weeks!

4. You can focus on getting to know your job and your co-workers - not your food.

Clearing the (gluten free) air on my first day made my next days of work even easier. I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner the night before and bring it to work in my handy cooler/lunch box. When I'm hungry, I have food that I know is safe to eat. Easy, simple and pretty darn delicious.

It can feel awkward telling strangers your medical history - though I can't say too much considering I write to hundreds of strangers about all parts of my life on here! - but it let me focus less on my eating and more on my internship overall. After my first week, I don't know everything about my co-workers or my internship. But I know that we are an amazingly talented group of young ladies excited to grow together. They don't see me as "the celiac." Instead, my fellow interns know me for my "endearing sense of humor" (as one girl told me on our second day).

casey the college celiac gluten free weirdo
In case you didn't already know...
I know more work and food related challenges, like office parties and field trips, will likely pop up during my internship. I know I'll probably have days when I feel frustrated about not being like everyone else. I also know that, wherever I work next, I'll also share my celiac disease on or before the first day.

Whether you like it or not, celiac disease is part of you. Instead of trying to hide it at work, own it instead!



*Also found at the Chronic Friday Linkup!*


When you do you share your celiac status with co-workers? With new people you meet? Comment below!




Comments

  1. I totally applaud you for this!! I 100% agree here, yet for some reason I have problems personally sharing my gluten-intolerance story! I think maybe because I am not Celiac and am only gluten-intolerant - it makes me feel like people will see this as more of a preference than anything else, and I just don't want to have to explain the entire thing. Anyway, it seems like it was a great choice for you and I commend you for making it!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Kat. I'm sorry to hear about your own struggles with it. I can definitely understand how it could be harder when you only have gluten intolerance (my mom struggles with a similar issue). I wish you all the luck and lots of gluten free goodies at work! ;)

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  2. Hi Casey! First, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW JOB!!! What an incredible achievement! Best of luck to you! Second, thank you for sharing how you handeled a potentially 'awkward' situation. This was a kindess to both yourself AND your co-workers. Also, how cool is your boss, right !? Thank you so much for linking up to Chronic Friday Linkup! Pinned/Tweeted/Shared

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    1. Thank you so much for the sweet comment Kristine! And yes, my boss is definitely awesome! I hope you have a great week and I look forward to linking up again soon :) Spoonies must stick together, right? ;)

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  3. Congrats on your internship! That's exciting :) And I'm (now) the same way about my medical "issues". I just tell people upfront why I don't sit still for long and why I'm almost always massaging my own neck/joints. It prevents me from looking like I'm just unprofessionally fidget-y, and it makes me feel like I don't have to hide in plain sight. Plus, I'm all for raising awareness about chronic conditions, and it opens up a dialogue, which I think is really valuable.

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