What to say?

Looks like a fun party!

We are all social distancing now, but that will end at some point. I was thinking about what should we say when people ask about celiac.

I am not the type of person with a quick, witty comeback. I am one that stares slack jawed at the person’s absolutely inane, uneducated comment. Five minutes later I have the best retort, but the moment has passed. I’ve missed my window.

I wanted to offer some suggestions as ammunition for the dumb stuff people say about celiac disease. Also, this is not designed to be used with close friends or intimate contacts. This is more for polite conversation at a party or gathering with a group of people that you may not know well. If you have better answers, I’d love it!!!

The gluten free diet is just a fad made up by rich, white people. I want you to know I’ve heard this, more than once. My answer – “Maybe so for some, but not for me.”

My sister/cousin/friend had celiac disease and they ate regular food. why can’t you? My answer is “I want to remain healthy for my family. I avoid things that can hurt my body.”

I have a friend/sister/cousin that is gluten sensitive and they went to Europe and didn’t have a problem with the bread in Europe. My answer is “I’m glad they had a nice trip. Celiac disease exists in Europe too and European celiac sufferers can’t eat bread and pasta either.” If you want to get snarky, “Great, I’ll just move to Europe and my celiac will go away, NOT!”

Celiac disease didn’t exist 20 years ago. This one is easy. It sure did. Celiac disease has been around for 1,000 years. We have better testing and more awareness so that those that are sick can find some relief.”

All celiac people are skinny. My answer is “That used to be what people thought, but now the disease can look different in different people.”

Celiac disease is made up. My answer is, “I agree. Please tell that to my gastrointestinal system so I can go back to eating all the good food.” There should be laughter after this one.

I could never give up bread and pasta. My answer is “I hope you never have to because it is pretty hard.”

Can’t you just try a little, it won’t hurt. My answer is “I appreciate the offer, but no thank you.”

If they persist in getting you to try something. – My answer, “It will hurt and I would prefer not to be in pain. Thank you again for the offer.” You might get a shocked look or two after this one.

I made this <insert food> for you with all gluten free ingredients just for you. My answer – “Thank you so much. It was very thoughtful of you. I cannot wait to try it at home.” I will then allow the rest of my gluten eating family to eat the food. I will also send a thank you for providing the food and letting them know we enjoyed it.

Oh, you have celiac? What happens when you eat gluten? My answer is “It is too gross to discuss in polite company.”

If they press. My answer is “I’m really ill with bathroom issues for a few days.”

I just read Grain Brain (or another book about avoiding gluten) and I’m considering going gluten free. My answer is “That’s great. Just don’t replace all the gluten foods you eat with gluten free substitutes. Use this as an opportunity to eat naturally gluten free foods, like fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, and proteins. Let me know if I can help.”

Notice my answers are short, to the point, and don’t allow for much complaining or whining. It is a simple fact of life we have celiac disease and there is nothing we can do about it. Everyone has a different experience in their gluten free journey and most people don’t understand what it is like. If I can be a good advocate for those with gluten issues without all of the preachy baggage, people will be more inclined to take me seriously.

The super smart web people say I should link back to previous articles. Here are three – one, two, and three.

2 thoughts on “What to say?”

  1. I like your answers for each comment you have to deal with. I am 51 years old and I just found out I have celiac disease, about three months ago. I am still not ready for all that, and so far I prefer to stay away of those social situations, first because of the current pandemic and corresponding social distancing, and second because I am still having a hard time leaving behind what I lived for five decades already, and learning how to eat and behave from now on. I am not that concerned about family and close friends, but just thinking about those social celebrations where you share the table with people you barely know or have previously seen, puts me through a lot of stress. I guess with time I will figure it out.

    1. The adjustment gluten free living is massive. It is a complete overhaul of how a person used to shop, cook, and eat. Be patient and kind to yourself as you learn of new way of eating.

      Social situations are the most challenging. Handle them with a lot of grace for other people because they don’t understand the lengths we have to go to to enjoy a simple safe meal. A little humor and honesty never hurt either. Finally, never let anyone bulldoze you into feeling bad or eating an unsafe meal. It is better to not eat or walk away than make yourself sick.

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