Friday, July 15, 2016

Why You Shouldn't Take Ignorant Celiac Comments Personally

You've heard them before and you'll probably hear them again: comments about your celiac disease - ranging from "A little can't hurt!" or "But it's Grandma's special pie, so you have to take a piece!" - that make you wince, cringe and all around wish you could disappear as quickly as gluten free cake on your birthday.

You aren't alone. In 2012, Gluten Dude posted 39 examples of celiac ignorance...and almost 100 people commented saying that they too have been victims to statements like: "This celiac disease is becoming like an epidemic now...just like lactose intolerance...LOL." 

casey the college celiac
Those faces say it all...
And, honestly, these statements can hurt. One of the offhand remarks that hurts me the most? "Well, at least you're not obese." Especially if I'm sitting in a restaurant watching everyone else raid the bread basket. Especially if I have to worry about getting sick every time I trust someone else with my food. Especially when I'm trying to gain weight

Did I cry out frustration after that experience? I'm not ashamed to say that I did. But it also served as an important reminder

My reality is not defined by others perceptions. 

My disease is not made any less challenging by others misconceptions. 

casey the college celiac

My struggles are not any less valid from others' inability to see them. 

My disease is so much more than just not being able to eat gluten - and life and my value as a person is determined by so much more than my weight

As hard as it can feel sometimes, my reaction to ignorant celiac comments shouldn't be hurt - though I have the right to feel those feelings and cry those tears if I need to. Instead, I should react with tolerance. With education. With a kind but resolved voice that says, "Yes, I am not obese. But my celiac disease impacts so much more than my weight and I would appreciate if you'd respect that." 

Most likely, these comments aren't emerging from hatred - though, depending on the person's circumstance, they could be driven by jealousy over your weight or your "motivation" to eat "healthy" (because not wanting to feel like a PMS-ing zombie is a great reason to say no to the bread bowl). Most likely, though, these people are speaking out of ignorance

casey the college celiac
Goofball is in the genes!
They may not know that their words are wrong or hurtful. In fact, I'm perpetually grateful to have my gluten-intolerant mom to vent to since she, at least on some level, understands why these words would upset me. Even though I fail at this role all the time, I think part of being a celiac is acting as an educator to others to help prevent their words from hurting someone else. 

Because, as someone who's been diagnosed and gluten free for three years, my skin is beginning to grow some calluses. But if a newly diagnosed celiac feels like their months of pain, doctor's appointments and dietary confusion should be no big deal cause at least they're skinny...well, I don't want that to be their first experience sharing their diagnosis with the world. 

I'll be honest: ignorant celiac comments hurt more some days than others. But, while the hurt remains, your ability to react in constructive ways becomes easier. 

casey the college celiac
Instagram to the rescue!
And when you can't? You always have plenty of fellow celiacs in arms - including me! - to vent to!


*Also found at RunningwithSpoons!*
What's the most ignorant celiac comment you've heard? How do you handle them? Comment below!

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