5 Hilariously True Similarities between Superman and Someone With Celiac Disease

When you have celiac disease...you have to be brave.

I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s actually true. You have to be brave enough to bring your own “special” food to a pizza party, or to not give in to people’s suggestions that “just a bite won’t hurt,” or to tell your first date to not kiss you right after eating pasta.

Which got me thinking about one of the most common symbols of bravery in American culture - Superman! - and how there are some hilariously accurate parallels between this superhero and someone with celiac disease like me.

5 Hilariously True Similarities between Superman and Someone With Celiac Disease

So whether you’re looking for a laugh or for some encouragement and comfort as you live with celiac disease, this post is for you! And here are five ways anyone with celiac disease is just as badass as the superhero many Americans know and love.

1. We have our own hidden “superpowers.” (Hint: one relates to snacks).

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Superman expert (so if I do overlook or misrepresent any Superman truths, let me know in the comments!), but I know that Clark Kent is a relatively normal-looking dude when he’s not rocking his cape. Superman’s whole secret identity depends on the idea that people can’t look at Clark Kent and know he can fly or be harmed by kryptonite.

The same can be said of anyone with celiac disease. As I’ve written before, there are a few ways you can “see” that someone has celiac disease, like in how we often research restaurants ahead-of-time or bring our own food to parties. However, if you look at us on the street, there’s no big blinking sign that says, “This person has celiac disease!!”

5 Hilariously True Similarities between Superman and Someone With Celiac Disease
At the Gluten Free Teen Summit last summer...
Sometimes, I find myself wishing celiac disease was more visible. Maybe it'd be easier for people to accept I can’t eat “even a bite” of their mom’s famous apple pie if the harm gluten does to my body was easier to see.

Most days, though, I appreciate feeling like Superman in his plains-clothed disguise. And if anyone falls in sudden need of a superpower like expert food label reading or master snack packing, wala - I'm ready to come to the rescue!

2. We can do our own “transformation” - and it doesn’t require a pair of glasses or a cape.

Clark Kent may be able to trade his glasses for a cape and immediately turn into Superman, but a celiac’s transformation can be even more intense.

Case in point? The difference between my stomach when I get up...and my stomach after I’ve been glutened. I can go from slim to 9-months-pregnant in a single crumb or cross-contaminated meal...and many others with celiac disease can relate.

But I’d like to emphasize a more cheerful transformation: the one from a celiac diagnosis to eating a safe, gluten free diet to treat celiac disease. Some people diagnosed with celiac disease gain weight while some lose weight and others stay the same...but when you look at most celiac disease “transformation” photos, smiles are far larger after going gluten free.

5 Hilariously True Similarities between Superman and Someone With Celiac Disease

3. We have our own superhero “quests” or “battles” to take on each day.

As I’ve shared before, celiac disease has changed me - and my life - in a LOT of good ways. Because of celiac disease, I learned how to cook. I started blogging and connected with people all over the globe. And, most importantly for this post, celiac disease helped make me really brave.

Now, I may not run into burning buildings or save a car from falling off a bridge like Superman does...but I do stand my ground when someone refuses to accept that I really can’t “just eat the toppings off” a regular pizza or accuses me of “exaggerating” my gluten free needs. And people with celiac disease have to make brave or difficult decisions - like what and where they can eat, how to navigate awkward food-filled social situations, receiving necessary accommodations at work or school and much more - every day.

4. We have our own group of superhero allies...and supervillains. (Dun dun DUNNN!)

Batman. Wonder Woman. The Flash. Green Lantern. Aquaman. You only have to glance at a superhero comic book or movie to see that Superman has plenty of superhero besties. And I’m always grateful that the celiac community has a similar web of support from other people with “superpowers” of their own. Like people with food allergies. Other invisible chronic illnesses. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The list goes on and on.

5 Hilariously True Similarities between Superman and Someone With Celiac Disease
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Of course, there are also plenty of celiac “supervillains” - mainly in the form of ignorance. Some people still believe myths like: “You can grow out of celiac disease,” “You can eat gluten from Europe and be fine,” or “Cheating every once in awhile is no biggie.” But just like Superman helps defeat his own enemies, I like to believe that celiac awareness will win in the end.

5. At the end of the day, we’re fighting for a cause bigger than ourselves.

Which leads to my final funny but true parallel between Superman and people with celiac disease: we’re both working for big causes. Superman fights for justice and the well-being of people on his planet and Earth...and people with celiac disease and fighting for:

More public awareness of what celiac disease really is and our need for a gluten free diet.

Better laws about gluten in medication, food, etc.

More celiac safe gluten free products and restaurant options.

Better legal accommodations for people with celiac disease in various areas of life.

So, yeah, the idea of calling myself a “superhero” or dressing up as Superman for my daily workday is pretty laughable. But the work people with celiac disease do to make life easier for future gluten free eaters certainly isn’t.

What I Hope You Take Away From This Post

Hopefully, this post made you laugh (or at least chuckle). But even if it didn’t, that’s ok - because I have bigger hopes for this post. Mainly, that it will help you realize that if you have celiac disease, food allergies or any other chronic illness...you are STRONG.

5 Hilariously True Similarities between Superman and Someone With Celiac Disease

You overcome challenges, big and small, each day that other people don’t even think about. And every time you spread just a tiny bit of education on your condition, you are contributing to a cause bigger than just yourself.

And, like I said, I’m no expert...but if I had to define the word “superhero,” it would be someone who is uniquely suited toward and makes the decision to help others. And with all of the unique lessons and skills that living with celiac disease or another chronic illness teaches us, I think any of us can be just that.



No questions today - just tell me your thoughts! 

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