Gluten Free Diet – Popular Prejudice
Ohhh the attitude (and ignorance) we “coeliacs” and gluten-intolerant people face from other non gluten-free people at times, regarding our need to follow a gluten free diet! Fellow gluten-intolerant people and coeliacs alike, I bring you this post for two reasons:
(1) If you follow a gluten free diet in order to survive, then I want you to know that you are not alone when faced with negativity regarding your gluten free diet!; and
(2) It is YOUR choice as to how you react to negativity regarding your personal dietary requirements, and I want to share with you how I turn many a negative comment about a gluten free diet into a positive one!
Now, I would like to share with you the top five attitude-filled remarks I receive when I tell someone I need to eat gluten-free:
(1) “Ohhh, you eat gluten-free *cue pretend sympathetic pause*… I feel so sorry for you, you must be so unhealthy!”
I love it when someone reacts positively when I say I must eat gluten-free – it just makes my day!
However, what I find hilarious when someone gives me the above (most common) negative response, is that whether coincidental or not, the person firing the comment usually follows a really poor diet themselves. I must say that for the most part throughout my corporate career and personal life, most people have been fabulous about my gluten-free needs (you know who you are!). However, from time to time, some people are just downright awful about it. Instead of responding with bad attitude, my response is always something along the lines of: “In fact, I find I follow a much healthier diet since becoming gluten-free. My diet consists mostly of delicious, fresh, naturally gluten-free foods, including meat, vegetables, nuts, dairy products and gluten-free grains.” Translation: “I don’t judge what you eat, be it high in bad fats or sugars etc., so please don’t judge my (mostly) healthy, (mostly) naturally gluten-free choices”.
(2) “Did you just say that cake you made is gluten-free? Oh… No… I’ll pass… Thanks.”
I LOOOOVE gluten-free baking. I try not to do it toooo often as I know it’s not super good for me, *sigh*. However, from time to time, I have baked gluten-free cakes and the like to celebrate the birthday of a family member/friend/colleague etc. I will never, ever forget the time I baked a cake for a lovely colleague of mine, about two years ago. He was so grateful to me (and so was the rest of our team!) for his gluten-free birthday cake.
However, another colleague took one look at it and asked “that’s not your freaky baking, is it?”… ‘Freaky’ meaning ‘gluten-free’. I proudly said “Yes”. One of the ladies in our office who always supported me piped up and asked, “Why don’t you try it before you judge it?”… So, we split the whole cake amongst our team and my reluctant colleague finally tried my baking. After bringing in several gluten-free baked goodies to the office in the past, which he’d always denied, he turned and said to me “Elise… This cake is better than any cake I’ve ever eaten in a cafe”. YES! From then on, he was converted, and instead of turning up his nose, he indulged in my gluten-free baking! My father-in-law has a favourite saying, “Well, have you tried it?” – give people the chance to taste yummy (non-cardboard-like) gluten-free food, and you just never know… They might request your home-cooked gluten-free goodies after that!
(3) “Gluten-free food is disgusting, you can’t eat anything nice!”
This one is one of my personal favourites and a BIG motivating factor for starting my gluten-free blog. There are many wonderful gluten-free products available for purchase. However, like gluten-containing food, there are many horrible gluten-free products out there. Some are completely flavourless while others have the texture of cardboard (not to mention the ridiculous price tag of many of these products). However, when following a gluten free diet, I think it is really important to think of all the wonderful things you CAN eat. There are mountains of delicious, naturally gluten-free foods out there and many amazing recipes that can be used to create something gluten-free that you may have thought you’d never get to enjoy again – like sausage rolls! Mmmmm. I HIGHLY recommend getting busy in your own kitchen and cooking up a gluten-free storm, and best of all, seeing the look on someone’s face when they realise that gluten-free food can taste absolutely amazing. 🙂
(4) “Can’t you just have the salad?… It won’t hurt you to eat some gluten just once.”
Oh my… If only a non gluten-free person could understand the aftermath of consuming gluten when you are coeliac or very much gluten intolerant (my official diagnosis). For me, the two things that made me really ill before going gluten-free were regular beer (shocking lethargy for up to three weeks) and lollies full of wheat starch (ghastly tummyache!). Besides nasty diarrohea (which let’s face it, know one wants to know about), consuming gluten can make you feel lethargic, irritable, flat… Just ask a coeliac! Many people react in different ways.
My advice when faced with this particular negative comment is to (a) ignore it; (b) where possible, suss out gluten-free menu options in advance; (c) ALWAYS have back up gluten-free food you’ve brought from home or picked up on the way to an event, etc. and (d) be grateful for your newfound health if you remember back to the days before your diagnosis and how awful you may have felt. Forget what anyone else thinks.
(5) “Eating gluten-free is just a trend.”
Many people, whether they react positively or negatively regarding my need to eat a gluten free diet, are not aware that eating gluten-free is life and death for some people. Following a gluten free diet has made headlines around the world for many years now and in recent years has also been termed a ‘trend’. There is literature out there supporting a gluten free diet and its health benefits, but there most certainly is a mountain of literature out there that does not recommend it (for people who do not need to follow it). Whatever an individual chooses, it is up to them. However, where applicable (e.g. for coeliacs), I think it is important to briefly and kindly explain to someone your particular situation and why you must follow a gluten free diet. It is important to make others around you aware so anything you consume is not contaminated with gluten.
Well, there you have it friends, the top 5 negative reactions I receive from others in regards to needing to follow a gluten free diet. May I leave you with a positive note – many people are absolutely wonderful and bend over backwards to accommodate for my gluten free diet. The reason I shared this post is so that you know you are not alone and that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I am grateful for my health every single day and embrace my gluten free diet. I hope our post inspires you to do the same!
What is your experience? Do most people react positively or negatively when you mention your need to eat gluten-free? We’d love to hear your comments below! Happy gluten-free eating!