Sometimes non-Coeliacs just don’t realise that their actions can sometimes be eye-rollingly annoying, or even just plain rude! Whilst most of us try to keep a sense of humour, here are a few things that non-Coeliacs do that can really grind my gears.
- Compare our symptoms to a minor ailment
“Oh yes I completely understand, I had a stomach ache the other day and it was just awful.” Whilst we understand that you are probably just trying to empathise and put our illness into relatable terms, comparing our lifelong auto-immune disease to that time you felt a bit peaky can really irk us. Especially once you’ve heard it a few dozen times.
2. Tell us about your fad diet
“I’m gluten free too! I want to loose weight/gluten is bad for you/insert other factually incorrect statement about the gluten free diet here.” It is not trendy to be gluten free and we really don’t want to hear about how you think you are in the same boat, especially when you inevitably give it up a few months down the line because it was “too hard/didn’t work/you’re going to try insert other fad diet here instead”. I should make this clear – I do not mean people with genuine gluten intolerances or sensitivities. Whilst these people may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten, unlike Coeliacs who need to be completely gluten free for life, they do suffer and are rarely believed about their condition because it is difficult to diagnose and because of fad diet eaters!
3. Serve us plain salad and fruit and call them meals
Restaurants, I’m looking at you this time. Whilst your friends might struggle to rustle up anything other than a salad for fear of getting it wrong, they are completely forgiven for sheer effort and thoughtfulness. Restaurants on the other hand must try harder – when you’re paying money to a supposedly professional kitchen, you really expect to leave feeling full. The wonderful gluten free b is known amongst the Coeliac community for the hashtag #fruitisnotapudding after receiving fruits salads for pudding. It really is poor effort to offer fruit/crudites/salad as the gluten free option, especially when they could easily offer naturally gluten free things like omelettes or jacket potatoes as a main and meringue or sorbet as a pudding.
4. Call our food disgusting or refuse to try something just because it’s gluten free
Okay, we can slightly understand this one – gluten free bread has a reputation for tasting like cardboard (and honestly, sometimes it does) but if we cook you something gluten free, don’t refuse to try it simply because you have a prejudice against gluten free food. Most gluten free food is just as delicious as “normal” food, and your ignorance is hurting you as much as it is us.
5. Exclude us from events because of our dietary requirement
Whilst it can be really tough to attend meals out or BBQs as a Coeliac, don’t just presume we won’t want to come – ask us first! It can be a really awful feeling when you are told that you weren’t invited to something because of your Coeliac disease. There’s often something we can do – sometimes we can bring our own food or eat beforehand.
6. Tease us with gluten
Shoving a normal cake or pizza under our noses and literally saying “Look, you can’t eat this and it’s delicious” is not only childish but it gets old fast! Whilst I have no issue with people eating gluten around me (why would I? I don’t tend to notice and my friends don’t make a fuss) if you are going to literally push your food in my face and cackle about how nice it is, we’re not destined to be friends (and YES this has happened to me!) We do wish we could eat gluten, but after a while you start to forget about it, so the teasing reminders are just irritating.
7. Eat our food without permission!
Gluten free food can be very expensive, so if we’ve bought a packet of gluten free biscuits, or a pizza, it’s ours, please don’t eat it! This is especially an issue for Coeliac students with shared kitchens. We don’t care if you “just wanted to try them”, go buy your own gluten free food if you are that desperate! Of course, if we offer, that’s a different situation, and a lot of the time we are very keen to get you to try our food (like I said above, we want to dispel the “it’s disgusting” misjudgement) but don’t take it without asking.
8. Act as if you know more about our disease than we do
Chances are, if we’ve been diagnosed for longer than five minutes, we’ve done our research, we’ve spoken to health care professionals, we’ve pretty much memorised Coeliac UK’s website, we’ve bought the cookbooks, read all the blogs. Unless you are a qualified health care professional or Coeliac yourself, it’s unlikely you’re going to know more than us about our own condition. Gibbering about how various pseudo-scientific “miracle” cures can heal Coeliac, telling us that “a bit of gluten won’t hurt us” (oh yes it will, see here if you don’t believe me) or telling us that your nan’s aunt’s cousin’s dog’s sister is Coeliac so you know all about it and it’s not that bad, is really not helpful. You are perpetuating misinformation and rumour which makes our fight against ignorance and stigma that much harder.
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Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA
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