I’m a coeliac, and my disease is not a fitness fad
We were gluten free before it was cool
I have coeliac disease, and “gluten intolerant” food bloggers have made my allergy a fad.
Most of them are only “gluten intolerant” because they’ve run out of things to say on their YouTube channel. Their self-diagnosis is bullshit and all coeliacs know it.
The gluten-free market is worth well over £100 million, and it’s down to middle-class fitness fanatics insisting they feel much better if their smashed avocado is presented to them on a slice of gluten-free toast.
I was diagnosed a coeliac when I was 19. My main symptom was tiredness – my attendance at sixth form was about 40 per cent because I just couldn’t get out of bed despite having nine hours sleep. My parents just thought I was a lazy teenager.
I looked like I had an eating disorder: I was extremely thin and pale and at the time I just thought I had been blessed with a fast metabolism.
Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease which is basically cured by not eating gluten. Every coeliac has a different reaction. When I eat gluten, I’m sick and I bloat and then I’m tired for about four days after. And when we say we bloat, we bloat – I could pass for six months pregnant when I eat gluten.
I literally can’t eat gluten, which is why it’s beginning to grind on me that every time I ask for a gluten-free menu the waiter gives me the “look” – the “who-does-this-bitch-think-she-is” look.
It’s coeliac awareness week, so what better time is there for me to educate you on the things you should never say to coeliacs?
‘But like, if it won’t kill you, why don’t you just eat it?’
Coeliac isn’t like a nut allergy where it could kill me instantly, which means people don’t take it seriously. But if any coeliacs carried on eating gluten it could lead to bowel cancer, nerve damage, infertility, blindness – the list goes on and on.
It’s in our best interest to avoid gluten at all costs. Not to mention that I still don’t fancy looking six months pregnant and being bed-bound for four days.
‘The chips are gluten free’
Oh, really? So they’re not fried in the same fryer as that battered fish you just presented the table next to me with?
‘Oh my god, I bloat loads too after I eat pasta for dinner’
Mate, that’s a food baby. You just demolished half a pack of pasta in 10 minutes.
‘I might try going gluten-free seeing as it’s doing you so well’
Don’t. These are the people who ruined my life. You asking for the gluten free menu and saying it’s okay that the chips are fried in the same fryer is the reason why most coeliacs end up sick after eating out.
Not to mention that going gluten-free has no health benefits unless you’re coeliac. Gluten-free substitutes actually tend to have more fat in them than their “normal” counterparts.
‘The chef can leave the cream out of the recipe so it’s gluten free’
That’s all well and good, but I’m not allergic to cream. This is the worst part of eating out, you can’t exactly put your full trust in a restaurant who doesn’t even know what gluten is.
It’s a mixture of two proteins found in wheat, barley and rye, by the way.
‘Why haven’t you lost any weight?’
Most coeliacs actually gain weight after they’re diagnosed because when we’re still eating gluten our bodies are taking in zero vitamins or minerals which means that we’re just like an anorexic, but we’re actually eating food. Also, gluten-free food has more fat in it.
‘It’s chocolate, so it definitely doesn’t have gluten in’
Do you even realise how many foods have gluten in? We can’t eat Cadbury’s chocolate, some ice creams, most ready-made meals and sauces, we can’t drink beer, or even peach schnapps (tb to year 11).
So don’t tell me what does and doesn’t have gluten in.
‘This has no wheat in it’
But does it have barley or rye in? Probably, yeah.
‘Want to split Two for Tuesdays?’
Oh yeah, I’d love to split a Domino’s, where you can get a large pizza with all the extras and the biggest pizza I can get is a small… but pay the same price. Sounds fair.
‘Oh my god, your life must suck’
You don’t have to tell me.
‘Do you want the rest of my burger? I can take the bread off’
Oh yeah, because that layer of soggy bread over the meat is really gonna make me feel good.
Most coeliacs are super-sensitive to gluten, which means that even those crumbs you just accidentally dropped on my plate could make me ill.
‘That’s so awful, are you OK?’
Yeah, it does suck that we can’t eat a lot of foods, but it’s no death sentence and you don’t have to act like it is. If anything, it’s fabulous that we’ve now been diagnosed and can avoid all the awful illnesses eating gluten would have eventually caused.
Go give your pity to the people who really need it.