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Readers Respond: What People Shouldn't Say To Someone Who Can't Eat Gluten

Responses: 17


Updated February 04, 2013

Most of us have had people say insensitive, ridiculous or even incredible things to us about our celiac disease or gluten sensitivity diagnoses, or about the gluten-free diet we need to follow to treat our conditions.

Has someone said something to you that you considered completely over the top? How did you respond (well, once you picked your jaw back up from the floor)? Share your story!

Share your story!

What you shouldn't say to those with cd

On presented with a lemon cheesecake "this has no gluten! Oh, the base? Can't you just scrape off the top and eat that?" On declining a digestive "omg you are so fussy, there's hardly any wheat in this surely?" I find most people are totally uneducated when it comes to gluten.
—Guest Gf Manchunian

What people shouldn't say to someone who

When someone at work looked at my gluten free sandwich and asked what it was. I explained that I had Celiac disease and he said he "would rather be dead!"
—Guest Michelle

Grow Up!

When I explained to a very good friend that my panic attacks when driving on the expressway were one of the celiac symptoms I really wish would go away, she said, "Oh, grow up! You can do THAT!" As if I could control them!
—Guest Panic Girl

"What would happen if you ate gluten?"

I'm a high school student who suffers from mild learning disabilities and consequently, I have a supersensitive nervous system. My parents put me on a gluten-free diet after it was discovered it affects my concentration and anxiety levels. When my friend found out about this (at the time, she was a new friend who clearly had little to no experience with those with food sensitivities) asked me what happens when I eat gluten. I told her that it affected my school performance, but of course she didn't believe me. That was the first of many times I had to explain...
—Guest Crissy

even my pulmonologist is unaware

While seeing my pulmonologist, we were discussing my recent weight loss (due to my going gluten free after my celiac diagnosis). When I told him I really missed my bread, he laughed and said "you don't have to eliminate gluten completely". I am sure he knows everything there is to know about lungs, but he needs a refresher course on gastro intestinal disorders.

That sucks!

When people learn that I not only have to refrain from eating gluten but nuts and seeds as well, the typical response is 'oh, that sucks!' My family and friends have learned to carefully read labels and show them to me before offering me anything to eat.
—Guest Cheryl

Try a bite of mine!

I forget - especially when I am suffering from brain fog. Once, we went to a seafood restaurant with friends, and I remembering deciding against the panfried fish, since obviously it was dipped in flour before the pan frying. But, later in the meal, my friend asked if anyone wanted some of her fish, and I said "Yes"! I had already eaten about 3 bites before I remembered the reason I hadn't ordered it in the first place. I make ice cream, brownies, bread, granola, and other gluten-filled dishes for my husband, and every once in a while, I am licking my fingers, and only realize it after! My husband can't remember either. He is always asking if I want some bread, or pasta, or sometime else yummy he is eating. I have been trying to be gluten-free for 5 months now, and it is slowly coming together... The thing is, if I can't always remember, and my closest family members can't remember, why would I ever be upset if other people don't?

How do stay so thin???

I've always been slender, bordering on stick-skinny at times. It was only after I was diagnosed with Celiac in my 30's that I finally understood why I had such a difficult time gaining any weight (and actual body strength). I frequently have women (and men) comment on my slender frame asking how I manage to stay so thin. When I explain to them that I have Celiac Disease, some people actually have the audacity to say, "I wish I had that so I could eat as much bread as I want and lose weight instead of gaining!" My remark, "Sure, if you like living in the bathroom and being one step away from duck-taping a bucket to you a** if you want to venture outdoors.....
—Guest Nura

It's no bother at all...

"Oh, it's no bother. We understand you have special needs. It's not a big deal. Really." What a group of friends told me before they stopped inviting me out to lunch with them. I guess gluten reveals who your real friends are.
—Guest Marian

What I say...

"Ok I'll eat/drink that. That is if you want me to have diarrhea all over the place!" Usually they stop trying...
—Guest Jessica

High Maintenance

I traveled home to the Maritimes for Christmas. It would be my first trip home since my Celiac diagnosis. Living in Ontario, its much more commonly known here. People down home have NO clue what Celiac Disease is. Doesn't mean they don't have it... Just that they don't know about it. Anyway I was in Nova Scotia visiting with my Aunt and my best friend came over with his boyfriend and planned a huge meal for us, complete with gluten free choices. They were preparing the meal and I must have asked one too many questions (Is that dish scrubbed? Will those meats be on the same tray as those crackers? Have you scrubbed that knife well?) And he said something along the lines of, "Miss fussy pants...." And, "high maintenance." This wasn't my choice. The same way one doesn't choose their sexual orientation.... I did NOT choose to have Celiac Disease. But I have it and I understand it and I know how careful I need to be. So after having returned from leaving the room to cry discretely and
—Guest Jen

"You can eat this. It's fine!"

I hear this all the time from my not-very-allergen/celiac-educated friends and family members, as they wave something that they assume is gluten free in my face... but is not. For example, I often hear, "This is gluten free" as they shove a soy-sauced based dish onto my plate or hand me a granola bar. The best response I've learned after all these years is to simply say, "Sorry. I only eat one-ingredient foods unless I prepare them myself."
—Tonya Lee

I have heard all of this before.

This is a real disease and gluten is the boogey man for all of us folks with Celiac disease. We are not part of a fad. We are no longer part of a gluten status quo. Please, we don't like getting sick. We are not the enemy---we can still break bread with you albeit in a different way. Love us for the HUMANS we are.
—Guest Claudia

My response to snarky comments

I say 'if I eat a trace of gluten, I **** myself wrong side out.' And smile when I say it. There are usually no more snarky comments about my GF diet. LOL
—Guest Donnie

my dil has an answer

My daughter in law and I both are gluten free because it's necessary for our health. She was once asked if she could eat just a little bit of gluten. She managed to just say "no" while thinking to herself, "Can I poke you in the eye just a little bit?"
—Guest diane


I thought people who have celiac decease are thin you are ......not that you're fat but.......
—Guest KV


Education goes a long way on both sides of the conversation. Family members should have the faith that it requires to understand another ailing family member. And over time, it becomes more than just food. Thinking that they will one day 'get it', is nice to keep telling ourselves, but it is my experience that they will never truly understand - unless they become afflicted themselves. My hope is that you all find your strength. It is like we are the aliens that should never ever tell, because then we have revealed a weakness. I feel your pain, and depression. Good luck to you all.
—Guest Doug

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What People Shouldn't Say To Someone Who Can't Eat Gluten

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