So, you’re gluten free.
Regardless of how you got there, it stinks to be told you can’t have the very ingredient central to the staple of the American diet. There’s no question about it, it’s a challenge.
Slightly worse than that may be the reaction you get when you share your news, order in restaurants, or are forced to politely refuse repeated offers of foods you previously accepted with enthusiasm. Watch carefully, and you’ll probably catch loved ones rolling their eyes in disgust because they’re fully convinced you’re making it all up.
I know, I’ve been there.
If you ever wonder why it is that some people think you’re so full of baloney when it comes to the gluten free diet stuff, funny guy J.P. Sears created a video that really pinpoints it perfectly.
So how can you not be this guy?
I think I can help.
How to Live a Gluten Free Lifestyle Without Annoying Everyone in Your Life
#1 Be kind.
Don’t be the obnoxious fool who loudly insists everyone bend to your dietary needs, especially if you don’t have Celiac or a gluten intolerance. It ruins things for those of us who do.
I often eat with people who face the same struggles I do with gluten, and I cringe when they order in restaurants. Being condescending to a waitress is never going to gain you any favors.
Whether you are dealing with family, friends, or wait staff, be gracious. Explain things kindly, with respect.
Ask questions, but don’t be insulting.
Explain that your need to eat gluten free is due to illness, not a fad diet. There is never a need to explain in detail what will happen should you ingest gluten. Trust me, they don’t want to know.
#2 Be grateful.
While there are plenty of people who roll their eyes and choose not to believe you truly cannot have gluten, there are many more who do hear you and make every effort to accommodate you.
Be thankful and careful to show it. Be gracious on those occasions where, despite their best efforts, you still cannot eat what has been prepared for some reason.
I’ve had friends go to great lengths to prepare a gluten free alternative especially for me, only to realize it wasn’t done so in a place free from contamination. In the beginning, I ate the treat anyway and suffered the consequences. I don’t recommend going that route.
Just be honest, explain your reason(s), and thank them profusely for making such a huge effort on your behalf.
We love to eat out, but because my daughter and I have to eat gluten free, our choices are limited. We are blessed with friends who always ask us to make restaurant choices that work for us. I don’t thank them enough for remembering.
Wait staff who listen and are extra careful deserve an extra measure of gratitude, and when possible, an extra tip.
Always remember that showing gratitude matters–not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because you are laying a foundation for how people in your world perceive the gluten free community.
#3 Be realistic.
You’re gluten free…you’re not dying of cancer. Remember that.
While this news can be devastating for those of us on the receiving end, the remedy–with effort–is easier today than it has ever been. Keep that in perspective.
You may have had severe illness that led to your diagnosis and in NO way am I trying to downplay that. For you, the gluten free diet is literally your lifeline. For others, it’s simply a safer, cleaner way of eating that helps them feel better.
Regardless, we are blessed enough to have something that can be cured or greatly helped by making different food choices. This is rare. Embrace and enjoy those changes rather than allowing them to devastate or define you.
#4 Be consistent.
There are few things more irritating than someone who says they’re gluten free, but occasionally eats gluten. Not only are you hurting yourself when you do so, you are telling those around you that gluten-related illness is really no big deal.
My doctor put it like this: Draino is poison. You know that. So you wouldn’t occasionally take a sip of Draino, right?
The same goes for gluten. For those of us with celiac or a severe gluten intolerance, the body treats gluten as poison and reacts to it accordingly. Knowing that, does it make sense to eat just a little gluten on purpose every now and then?
#5 Be quick to teach.
Teach others about gluten, what it is and why some people are resistant to it, but don’t lecture.
There is nothing more irritating than a know-it-all. (trust me, the rest of the world is sick to death of hearing from those)
Graciously educate people in your world about the challenges we face so that the next time they encounter someone with the same struggles, they know better and can help.
It’s not all about you.
While the video posted above is satire, for me it drives home a point worth noting–it’s not all about me. Or you.
When we put so much focus on the fact that we are gluten free, and do so rudely, forcefully, and often dishonestly, it does none of us any favors.
If you have Celiac Disease or a severe intolerance to gluten, you have a significant health issue that, if not properly treated, can have devastating and long lasting, life altering effects on your body.
That’s a huge deal.
So, be gracious. Communicate with others in a way that lets them know you’re grateful for their understanding. Educate humbly so that others in our community will benefit from your experiences, and most importantly, consistently take care of yourself so that you can live the life God created you to live!