Happy Celiac Awareness Month!
In case you’re in the dark, celiac disease is a condition where individuals affected can’t eat gluten.
Gluten is the overarching term for wheat, rye and barley, so any products using these ingredients are out for people with celiac. Breads, cookies, cakes … you name it, we probably can’t eat it.
I know, I know. It’s basically the worst. I am painfully aware.
Whether you have full-blown celiac disease or just a gluten sensitivity, not being able to eat gluten can be challenging.
It can also be challenging to explain to people what gluten is, and why you’re refraining from eating it.
Pretty much my entire family is allergic to gluten, so not being able to eat it has always been a huge part of my life.
Among my friends, I’m sort of known as the token gluten-free girl and the authority on all things related.
I'm always around to clear up what gluten is and what foods it hides in. I don't mind; it has just become an inevitable and amusing part of life.
When you can’t eat gluten, it definitely plays a role in the way you live your life.
There are certain things that happen to you on an almost-daily basis when you live the life of not being able to eat the ever-delicious gluten.
1. People just assume you can't eat much of anything.
To many people, gluten is everything, and if you can’t eat gluten, well, then, what can you eat?
Often, when people hear you can’t eat gluten, they suddenly think you also can’t eat dairy, sugar, or much of anything at all.
"What can you eat?" people ask. Well, I can’t eat pizza, and pizza is the only food that matters, right?
So, if that’s the case, then they’re right; I guess we really can’t eat anything. Excuse me while I go sob in the corner.
2. All restaurant choices are run by you first.
When you and friends have plans to go out to eat, or you’re wandering around someplace trying to find somewhere to grab food, the question is usually less “Where do you want to eat?” and more “Where can you eat?”
If friends choose a restaurant in advance for a party or outing, you always Google the menu to make sure they have something you can eat.
If your group is having a hard time deciding between places to eat, your allergy is often the deciding factor.
It's easier than flipping a coin, I guess, so that's a plus.
3. People are never sure what gluten even is.
“You can eat pretzels right? No? What about spaghetti?” Or, “Oh, you DEFINITELY can’t eat french fries!” These are the questions gluten-free people field every day.
What even is gluten? The world may never know, apparently.
4. Someone always gets upset you can't drink beer.
In college, random guys at parties would always get super upset or offended I was allergic to beer.
To some people, not being able to drink beer apparently means not being able to drink alcohol.
No, drunk person, I cannot drink beer, but it’s okay. I promise it’s all going to be okay.
I'm pretty sure I would hate beer, anyway. Cider all the way.
5. There’s always that one gluten-free product you really miss.
You don’t always miss it all because let’s face it: Gluten makes you feel super sh*tty, and not having it in your body is just so much better.
There’s always that one food, though, that the gluten-free bakers of the world just haven’t gotten right yet.
For me, it’s cannolis. I have yet to find a gluten-free cannoli, and it kills me every day. If someone can find me one, I’ll probably marry that person on the spot. That seems drastic, but … cannolis.
6. Everyone will offer you food you can't eat and then go, "OH, RIGHT."
Always, without fail, every time. They then proceed to feel super bad they just offered you something that would hurt you immensely, but it's not that big of a deal.
It’s okay; I forget sometimes, too. I’m not offended you accidentally tried to harm me, I promise. Except for that one time I threatened to eat the gluten someone offered me and then throw up on them.
It's a case-by-case basis, I suppose.
7. Any articles about being gluten-free/celiac disease people see, they send to you.
When you can’t eat gluten, you seem to become everyone’s token gluten-free friend.
Articles on how gluten sensitivity is bullsh*t get posted to your Facebook wall, and every time they meet someone else who also has celiac or can’t eat gluten, they mention you.
8. "What would happen if you ate gluten? You should just try it."
I have tried it. That’s how I know I can’t eat it. So, meh, better not.
9. Everyone assumes gluten-free food is gross.
And, I’ll admit, some of it can be. It’s not all bad, though. Gluten-free cooking/baking is an art, and it can, indeed, be mastered.
It has also gotten so much easier to find good gluten-free products over the years.
The best cake I’ve ever had in my life was gluten-free (and, yes, I’ve had gluten-filled cake before).
Some people are just super scared by the "gluten-free" label and don't trust it. My brother has a strict gluten policy, as in he won't eat anything that doesn't have it. Dinners at our house are super fun.
So, here's to those of us who can't eat gluten! This is our month; let's celebrate with some pizza… the gluten-free kind, of course.