My hope was to get this post to you on a “Tasty Tuesday” … but with all the craziness with my phone getting glitchy and me locking myself out of my house (#fail) (LOL) (#facepalm), it did not get posted! SO, I am making up for that today and will squeeze in my other post for today elsewhere within the series. Flexibility is key! I hope I can earn your mercy on this one!
Now, before I jump into this, let me say that I eat gluten free. I have been gluten free for nearly 2 years now and this was for personal health reasons. I do not have Celiac’s disease (gluten does not damage my intestine), but I do have an intense negative reaction to eating glutenous items. This all started after my hubby and I did a Raw Food Detox (we will be doing our 4th one starting Saturday!). We ate only raw foods for a week and for fear of my body revolting by adding everything back at once, I took an additional week off of gluten (my hubby was already eating gluten free, so it was easy to do). When I ate gluten after those two weeks I nearly vomited within 30 minutes of eating it… and people… I HATE throwing up, so I am good at forcing myself to not throw up… probably should have just went through with it though because the pain that ensued after was awful. Sorry for the TMI; but it adds to the story… right?!
Now that this is established, let’s get to the heart of my post.
Wow. There are SO many advances in society today for folks eating a gluten free diet. So many more products, products that actually taste good and have pleasant textures, restaurants serving gluten free items, special menus, grocery store sections, accommodations at schools and colleges… I could go on. However, there are still a large number of people who are completely uninformed about gluten. Let me give you a few of my humorous experiences (keep in mind I lived outside of Chicago during these… not in the middle of nowhere) :
Someone at work was getting donuts for everyone… this person knew I ate gluten free and so this person asked the employees if there was something gluten free to purchase. The employees said they had no idea and listed alternative items to donuts. The coworker said that the Veggie Breakfast Burrito would be perfect. (vegetarian does not equal gluten free)
Someone at work was ordering pizza for everyone. This person told me to go get some when it arrived. I thanked this person for the kind offer, but said I could not eat it. This person responded, “RIGHT, you need glucose pizza!” (glucose = sugar)
Went to a cupcake shop and asked if there were any gluten free cupcakes. The owner said providing gluten free cupcakes was impossible for her because gluten is airborne. (gluten is not like the common cold)
Haha… I still chuckle at these. But here is the thing… I have encountered others who do not chuckle at this, but rather, get enraged by this. I hear people complaining about how everyone should be informed and how stupid everyone is for not knowing how to provide for their needs. People who get upset when they go to gatherings and there is no food there that they can eat; they feel neglected and left out.
Dear Gluten Free Snobs… please stop placing unrealistic expectations on people. Please stop responding in annoyance and anger toward people who either are completely uninformed or are trying their best. Just because those of us who eat gluten free are largely informed about what foods contain gluten, how sensitive people can be and the consequences of contamination, and our general needs… that does not mean that everyone we encounter should also be experts. People do not study up on gluten for the fun of it and, honestly, gluten is not something that is clear cut to those who have never learned about it.
When it comes to dietary restrictions, this is no one’s responsibility but our own. Expecting accommodations and expecting options where ever we go is simply not reasonable. Is this unfortunate? inconvenient? Sure! But it is time we stop getting angry at others for not understanding a condition that has 0% impact on their day-to-day life.
Now, I understand that “hangry”-ness can come into effect… but this is something that we can take control of and make sure we don’t run into any issues where we feel the need to go hungry. Here are some tips I have to being a Friendly Gluten Free Person in Gluten Unfriendly World:
- ALWAYS have snacks on you. If I am going out for awhile, I make sure to bring some food along that I know I can fall back on if there is no option for me somewhere. Chances are there will be something, but that does not mean that it will be sufficient for you as a meal. Protein bars are a great thing to always have on hand… fruit, peanut butter, nuts, carrots… these are all great travel friendly foods.
- Call ahead to where you are going to see if there are options… and be NICE. If the person you talk to is uninformed, be an educator! This way you can also get a feel for if they will really be able to deliver food free of gluten for you. If they are uneasy, that is FINE. This just lets you know how to best prepare.
- If there are not options… eat before you leave! This is so simple people. If you are unsure of what will be there and unsure of preparation soundness, then just eat before you go. This makes life easier for everyone.
- Assume people have NO idea about gluten. This way, you are pleasantly surprised if they are clued into your needs. There is no reason whatsoever that we can assume people know. Stop saying people “should” and start realizing most don’t and be a positive educator.
- Remember that many people think people eat gluten free because it is trendy. Thanks to years of “Hollywood diets,” many people are under the assumption that people eat gluten free simply because it is trendy and a fad diet (and some do!). They don’t realize that it can actually end some people in the hospital. This is NOT their fault. If you have serious adverse reactions, calmly let them know and make an informed decision based on their reactions to your needs.
- Don’t go places where you are not confident OR choose not to eat while there. We can suck it up and choose not to eat at a restaurant. Whether that means avoiding it or simply going and not ordering anything. Don’t be the stick-in-the-mud friend that limits your friends from going to a restaurant they all love because of your food needs. You can absolutely go and get something to drink (having eaten before or bringing something with you) without it being the end of the world.
- Realize that people may have a bad taste in their mouth about gluten free people because of how they have been treated by them in the past. Someone may be rude to you because they have received mistreatment from another person with gluten free needs. Is this your fault, no… but don’t add to their experiences that indicate gluten free eaters are rude.
- Stop expecting people to provide for you. No one HAS to make sure your needs are fully accommodated where ever you go. No one is that special.
I hope those of you that eat gluten free find this to be helpful. And for those of you who have been mistreated, I apologize and hope that you will give us gluten free eaters a chance! Please don’t disregard our needs based on a bad experience. If you have questions about gluten free eating or have a story to share, please leave a comment!