it’s time to leave the 7th grade

ShaunaAhern2

Remember the 7th grade? That awful year when most of us cringed at the sound of our own laughter, or begged our parents for the latest fashion, or gathered around the person we thought was coolest, just hoping the cool would slough off on us somehow?

Thank goodness that most of us have grown up.

But when it comes to dealing with people who need to be gluten-free, I’m convinced that we’re living in a culture that is still stuck in the 7th grade.

* * *

I’m honored to be part of Offline Magazine, an innovative new way to read thoughtful essays about this culture we live in. Offline Magazine is a magazine you read on your phone or your tablet. So many of us get our news by clicking links from Twitter or following stories on friends’ Facebook walls, but that reading can be scattered and pell-mell, bopping from recipe to environmental disaster to movie review to breaking news. It’s enough to make your head spin. Offline Magazine acknowledges that many of us read on our phones and tablets now, while a good number of us would like a more focused, single-pointed reading experience.

Each issue of Offline Magazine contains five, long-form essays. And in their first issue, I wrote a piece about how the experience of needing to be gluten-free brings out the 7th grade in so many of us.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Of course, 7th grade also meant bullies. Kids for generations have been quieting themselves, trying to fit in, to make sure they weren’t picked on. And there are plenty of bullies around when it comes to gluten. Every nationally published piece I have ever read about why gluten-free is becoming so widespread — and many of them have quoted me — has a series of comments so vicious and ugly that I want to take a shower after reading them. Within four or five comments, someone writes, “Bread is the stuff of life. Man has been eating it for generations. If these people get sick from eating such an essential food? Well, maybe this is survival of the fittest. Maybe people who can’t eat gluten shouldn’t be breeding.” (I’m not kidding. I have learned to not read the comments anymore.)

Nearly everyone who has to be gluten-free for medical reasons has endured the relative at a party who pishes and poshes about this, saying, “Oh come on. What harm could a little bread do you?” These are the same relatives who complain you are ungrateful if you don’t eat the Thanksgiving spread in front of you and snack on the one salad you know has no gluten in it. You can’t win.

Recently, a comedian with a national television show performed a particularly unfunny sketch where he pretended to interview the author of a gluten-free cookbook. After saying he found the author tiresome and a liar, he shoved a gluten-filled pie in his face. The audience roared with applause.

Friends of mine once attended a cooking demonstration from a famous chef who assured everyone, repeatedly, that the dish was gluten-free. They ate it. When the chef demonstrated the recipe in front of them, however, she put a tablespoon of bleached wheat flour in there. There were gasps. Someone asked, “Wait, is the same recipe? I thought you said this was gluten-free.”

At this, the chef brushed away the air with her hand, and said, “Oh, a little flour can’t hurt you.”

My friend was sick for nearly a week, with terrible vertigo, repeated trips to the bathroom, and a debilitating migraine.

Guess what? A little flour can hurt some of us. Bullies usually have their facts wrong. These gluten bullies do too.”

* * *

There’s much more to the essay, which is called I Can’t Eat Gluten. Does That Bother You? I thoroughly enjoyed writing this one, as it gave me a chance to dig into the psychological aspects of gluten-free in this culture. Tell you the truth, I think it’s one of the best pieces I’ve ever written.

I think you’d enjoy it too.

To read the piece, and the four others that accompany it, you’ll need to buy a copy of Offline Magazine. But here’s the good news. It only costs 99 cents. Just click over here and download it onto your phone. 

(And one of the most intriguing parts of this endeavor is that each essay has been recorded by a professional actor, as well. So you could listen to someone else read my essay while you go for a walk or drive in the car, if you want.)

The team who created Offline Magazine believes in treating writers well. I’ll be receiving a bit of the revenue share from all the sales. So I’d love if you could support this, and make this essay a topic of conversation. We need to be talking more and more about how those of us who are gluten-free deserve to be treated in this culture.

 

59 comments on “it’s time to leave the 7th grade

  1. Stacy Spensley

    Never read the comments!
    That’s how kids with peanut allergies die after someone forces a peanut butter cookie on them. I’m a long-time vegetarian and get very sick if I accidentally eat meat, so yes, it does matter if it’s chicken or vegetable stock.

    What a fun project to be a part of, Shauna! Congratulations.

    1. Sandy

      Hi all, this is my first post as I am new to this blog! My husband and I are both gluten sensitive, me more so than him, ie hives vs bloating. We also are both lactose intolerant so, long story short, we have shielded our 2 year old daughter from both gluten and cow milk and she is very healthy! Yesterday a lady in the hair salon gave my daughter a gingerbread cookie without asking me!! My baby girl had eaten half before I realized! She had cramps and diarrhea the rest of the day and has eaten very little and has dark circles under her eyes today! So for some, an offending substance does make them sick. The lady asked what my daughter can eat if she can’t eat gluten. I was happy to rattle off a list of her favorite snacks which are primarily fruits and veggies.
      Looking forward to reading and learning with u all!

      1. shauna

        Thanks, Sandy. So sorry that your daughter was sick. You and she both will get quite good at advocating for her, preventing situations like this in the future.

        1. Sandy

          Thank you Shauna, she is looking and feeling much better today:) Lots of alkaline foods, water, and chewable acidophilus! You are right about advocating! I am getting thick– skinned regarding our dietary needs and others’ opinions, which often seem to be made from lack of knowledge. Our daughter told her grandma on the phone “No cow milk no cookie. Makes tummy sick.” Pretty good for barely 2!
          Happy holidays!

  2. Kate

    Thank you, thank you. Every time someone feels the need to weigh in on my medical issues (as if it is their business), I can’t help but see red. I can’t wait to download the whole piece you wrote.

    1. Sarah

      I don’t know…my husband and daughter are diagnosed celiacs, and while we have encountered situations in which people didn’t understand the technicalities we have not had any “bullying.” I don’t like the self-victimization of this article. Nobody is persecuting you for not eating gluten, and it’s only as big of a deal as you make it. We try very, very hard to strike a balance with our daughter wherein she understands her eating restrictions while acknowledging that they are the least interesting and defining thing about her. She’s going to deal with people who don’t understand in her life and I wouldn’t want her to cry “Bully!” every time someone has the nerve not understand her personal and specific eating issues.

      1. Rachel

        I’m sorry, but I feel the need to point out that someone inserting themselves into a situation and attacking, deriding, intimidating and making fun of someone for something they have no control over is pretty much the definition of bullying.

      2. shauna

        There’s no self-victimization here. If you have ever read our site, you will know that is not our way at all! Much of my work is showing how vibrant and full my life is without gluten. As you wrote, it’s the least interesting part of me, for the most part. With respect, I’d like to point out that you only read an excerpt, not the entire piece. Bullying does happen. But so does self-advocacy, which I addressed in the piece as well. This is a piece about a cultural response, not an individual one. As a culture, we have work to do.

        1. Sarah

          First of all, I didn’t mean to reply to the above comment, sorry about that. Secondly, it’s because I’ve been reading your site for many years that I got such a victimizing vibe from this. You make your Celiac the main point of your life, and I’m not surprised that it inspires frustration in the people around you. And I’m not surprised that you see that frustration as bullying. We teach our daughter to explain her restrictions — when necessary — and move on. I can’t imagine her or by husband dwelling on them and forcing them to the front and center of every human interaction. I agree with you that “as a culture we have work to do,” but I think it goes both ways. The “culture” of celiacs (and I cringe at the idea that gluten-free is even a culture — it is such a small aspect of our lives, and we are a GF household) also needs to understand that the world isn’t out to get them, there are actual victims and bullies in this world and that doesn’t accurately describe your Aunt Sally who doesn’t understand why you can’t eat her pasta salad.

        2. shauna

          Again, I would ask you to read the entire essay. I have never made my celiac the main point of my life. Nor are the people in my life frustrated that I am gluten-free. Where in the world did you get that idea? When I wrote the essay, I wrote it from the thousands of voices I have heard, here and in person and in emails and from friends and in the press, not my own personal experience. In fact, for me, living gluten-free is pretty darned easy but that doesn’t mean it is the experience of everyone who lives gluten-free. I am lucky that people share their stories with me. And I have heard from so many of those people, including some in this comment thread, that they have felt derided and bullied for being gluten-free. I’m not sure why this has bothered you so much but I would ask you to read the entire essay before you continue to make comments such as this.

        3. Kimberly

          Hi Sarah,

          Thanks again for your comment and your level headed approach to this issue. I really appreciate your perspective on this issue and I think your daughter is extremely lucky to have you as a mother. Please keep commenting here. I think your opinions are quite refreshing!

      3. Jen

        Just want to add that I choose not to eat gluten (I haven’t been diagnosed as celiac — nor have I been tested — but it’s a choice I’ve made) and sometimes I get some weird and occasionally judgmental energy from people who seem baffled…Like why in the heck would you do that if you don’t have celiac disease? I don’t think this is feeling victimized, it’s just what it is; just describing reality. It would be great if other people were simply be more open-minded and interested to learn more. I think that’s where the seventh grad mentality can be. Sometimes I allow myself to feel guilty or embarrassed if I won’t eat something and people seem to notice, or feel like maybe they think I’m just following a fad. Fortunately with more and more information coming out about issues with gluten (including those who don’t have celiac), hopefully this will help the change this somewhat immature mentality.

      4. Janie

        Your experience does not define anyone elses. Lots of people have been persecuted for eating gluten free, as evidenced even just here on the comments to this post. Given that this blog is titled ‘Gluten Free Girl’ it’s a little rich to accuse the author of ‘making everything about gluten’. It takes ten minutes and two different blogs to find HUNDREDS of stories of family, coworkers, friends, treating people badly over their dietary needs. It’s wonderful that your daughter doesn’t have that problem. And good for you for helping her get to a place where she doesn’t. That doesn’t make it appropriate to criticize other people for discussing a real problem, simply because you don’t have that problem.

  3. Loz

    The bullies are interesting. One of my kids is at least in the gluten intolerant camp if not actually coeliac (the proper test is a bit too much for me to put a 3 year old through, and anyway I would have to feed her gluten to produce a testable reaction — no thanks). I have an uncle who is a bit of a “parenting bully” — whatever I do with my 3 kids he always has stern advice to the contrary. But when we took gluten out of the kids diets, and this poor little miss went from being cranky and withdrawn to running up to him and having a big giggly cuddle for half an hour, he said to me “whatever you are doing, keep doing it.” If he sees her walk near a gluten product he freaks out. so there are the anti-gluten-bullies out there too, thankfully!

  4. Claudia

    Thanks for this, and all you do. Timely, once again. Just a couple of days ago, a close friend threw a plate of cornbread across the room, shattering the plate, because I turned it down. Stepping way back from this relationship.

  5. Kim (Feed Me, Seymour)

    I don’t know why dietary restrictions or choices bother people so. Really, is it affecting me at all that you’re gluten-free? No. Unless you count the great recipes and sage advice that’s been given here as affecting. Not every food lifestyle is going to work for every person, for one reason or another. It’s not as if a chef would wave off a child with a deadly peanut allergy. So why should gluten be any different?

  6. Jenn Sutherland

    Oh, I love this idea of Offline Magazine, and love trying out new formats and content on tablet — I’ll be downloading, and reading this one over the holidays — can’t wait. The timing of this article could not be more perfect, as the holidays always shine a spotlight on our dietary differences, and stretch our families to be a teensy bit more inclusive at the table, with varying degrees of success. It sounds like your essay will be a lovely grounding piece for the drive to Michigan this weekend!

  7. Libby

    Until I became a faithful reader of your blog, I WAS one of those people who thought “oh, just a little such and such can’t hurt.” I don’t think I was ever a bully about it (it’s just not in my nature) but I was certainly very ignorant to the harm and the truth about gluten intolerance. Just because I know one person who can have a little bit without significant consequences, doesn’t mean that everyone can. Everyone is different.
    I’m grateful to you, Shauna, for continuing to educate us about the how and the what and the why of all of these complex matters.

  8. Melissa

    While I fully support those who do not have celiac abstaining from gluten, I think those who make the choice or describe themselves as having a “slight intolerancy” can confuse people (family, restaurant waitstaff, coworkers included). You are correct about bullying though; why should I feel guilty for asking the waiter or waitress questions? I shouldn’t. People with serious nut allergies ask questions, but people I find take them fairly seriously. Why is my dietary restriction different? Confusion about if someone has celiac or is avoiding gluten by choice isn’t a valid excuse. Family, friends and restaurants should be respectful enough to assist (or in the case of families, not complain about) anyone’s food choices. Making a personal choice to not eat gluten and having celiac should be regarded with equal seriousness and compassion. Thank you as always for your kind and thoughtful words! They always make me feel less alone!

  9. Tina

    Man, I just had this conversation with my mother-in-law last night. She insisted that I’m only allergic to gluten because I don’t eat it. Then she went on to tell me that she read somewhere that not eating gluten is bad for you. Can’t win.

  10. Marianne Parker

    The only time I get aggravated is with folks that seem to have a restriction of the week and get ticked with me when I can’t keep up. That would be one of my family members. He was ticked that we didn’t accommodate his current no pig or bird rulings, but refused the alternate meal I had for him as well. Went on a facebook rampage about how his family doesn’t care about his food needs that he’s had since being 3. Otherwise, I try to accommodate. Upfront about the realities of what’s in the food. And, move on. I’m finding that I’m gluten sensitive. And, I’m just making better choices. If it’s not something that I can eat, I move on. I don’t expect anyone to cook for me or to change their life for me.

    1. Kimberly

      Thanks so much for this comment. There are always two sides to every story and I’m glad you acknowledge that there are some (not all, not by a long shot) people who hop from one trendy food allergy to another and it can be hard to keep up.

      Of course, who this really harms the most are the people who have legitimate allergies.

  11. Kathleen

    This is a conversation that needs to happen. I saw a pretty awful segment a the Today show clip that made fun of gluten-free and nut allergies. And a doctor was sitting there taking part! I was just horrified.

    Some people just get upset when anyone makes choices that distinguish them from the status quo. Countless times I have heard something to the effect of, “Cheetohs aren’t going to kill them! Y’all ate them and turned out just fine” when I opt to buy apples for my children instead of junk in the presence of extended family. We aren’t purists, but our tendency to try to eat mostly whole foods with relatively little sugar definitely bothers some. Or alternately, using whole fat milk and butter. That also irritates some people.

    For us, these choices are truly an option, but for you, it’s not. That makes it all the more ridiculous that people get angry. I am thankful you provide me a place to find delicious recipes for my friends who need to eat GF. Thank you!

    Here’s to 2014 being a year of continued education and growing compassion on these issues.

  12. Elizabeth

    I am one of those people who tested negative for celiac but who avoids gluten anyway, just because eating it makes me feel lousy. But I can ingest very tiny quantities — communion on Sundays, a beer now and again — with no perceptible effects. Unlike someone with Celiac, where I guess even the tiniest amount, from a crouton removed from a salad, can wreak havoc. That said, my experience eating gluten free since 2007 has been the opposite of yours, especially in recent years. Restaurants (maybe this is a Boston thing, who knows) are extremely understanding and forthcoming, to the point where most menus now have a little reminder to alert server to any food allergies. And in company, when I pass on the bread or explain that I don’t eat gluten because it leaves me feeling groggy and depressed, responses are generally sympathetic. I’m never sneered at, anyway. Of course, I’m not writing online … while most of the food blogs I read are very friendly, I am sometimes stunned at the vitriol in the comment sections of, say, the New York Times and other news sources. So I guess what you are dealing with goes with the territory of being a public figure. Which is really and truly sad, but kudos to you. That’s it’s getting easier and easier to eat gluten free every day is thanks in large parts to your efforts.

  13. Rachel

    I applaud your courage. And though I know you’re not trying to convince the masses that gluten is universally harmful, there is more and more information available about how gluten is damaging to our digestive systems. I will be very curious to see if by the time my children are adults, gluten will be mostly phased out of our diets.

    1. Jan

      Yes, I can’t recall the percentage offhand, but apparently, grains (especially wheat) contain far more gluten now than they did 50–100 years ago, due to changes in growing, hybrids, possibly GMO, etc. The authors of these articles I’ve read usually suggest that
      wheat is no longer that healthy for anyone!

  14. Kristy

    Wow, I never thought of it as bullying, but now see that it is. Recently it happened to me with new friends…I was ridiculed for bringing my own food because I wasn’t sure where we were going to eat. One actually told me it was no fun unless everyone at the same thing!
    Not being in 7th grade anymore, I had no problem cutting the evening short and going home to enjoy a safe meal that made me feel good. As adults we get to choose if we are going to be a victim or not.

  15. Rachel

    How timely. I just attended a holiday luncheon at my workplace, my first since being diagnosed with celiac disease. Of course I couldn’t take the risk of eating or drinking anything, as it was a potluck sort of thing. I was already feeling bad for having to bring a very plain salad to eat alongside people feasting and choosing from literally 10 big folding tables full of tasty looking food, and I couldn’t even have a drink because the beverages were all punches someone had concocted. So I had just sat down and I took the salad out and scooped it onto the plate, and the guy next to me (who I’ve never met or had interaction with) turns to me and says, “You brought your own salad to a catered lunch? Classy.” I just stared at him, smirked, and said that I have celiac disease and will get sick if anything I eat contains or comes in contact with certain things. I kind of shut him down and he responded with something like “Oh well I’m glad you could come.” Obviously (sarcasm), because he managed to make me feel even worse about something that I have no control over that greatly affects my quality of life, and which to this day I am still healing from (some days feeling like I’m moving backwards). And obviously this guy never left the 7th grade.

    1. April

      Yes, the workplace luncheons are the worst! The best you can do is bring a very tasty gluten free dish and a fabulous dessert so you know you will have something wonderful to eat. My co– workers know I am gluten free and often cannot tell that the dishes I bring are. I was diagnosed with celiac over 8 years ago and it is a constant battle.

  16. Kimberly

    Nobody should have to read the kind of comment that you cited above. That is completely inappropriate.

    That being said, I think there is a climate in our culture (possibly due to anonymous online postings) where anybody who disagrees is a bully. Anybody who criticizes is a troll. Anybody who disagrees in the slightest is to be ignored.

    I wish we could have conversations that included constructive criticism or thoughtful commentary without immediately adopting a victim or bully label. I think it would make conversations much more interesting and helpful.

  17. Mrs Brownie

    Totally passing this along to my mom. I’m her anti-bully, hahaha! And my dad is incredible, he’s still the main cook and makes incredible safe meals for them both to share. I’ve met a lot of people whose spouses just make them fend for themselves.

  18. DragonLady

    I used to mess with one of my friends nearly relentlessly over her diet until she suggested that a lot of issues I was having might be a gluten intolerance, and lo and behold, she was right. And for the past 2 years, I have been discovering all kinds of chemical sensitivities too. But, yeah, now I’m on the other side and thankfully I only get “harassed” by a very small number of family and friends.

    I’m about to download the full article. Can’t wait to read it! :)

  19. Sensible_Shoes

    Just read a really good book “What You Don’t Know About Gluten May Kill You.” It referenced an NBC Today Show story about how “prenatal exposures to gluten…” could lead to hypersensitivity in an infant — even resulting in anaphylaxis (not sure of spelling — but it is a serious allergic reaction)! Shuana’s article makes me really think about the 7th grade mentality for my 7th grader!

  20. Bee

    I so agree with what you say, Shauna. When I developed an allergy back when I was a child (in the 1980s) many people didn’t know about allergies and kept telling my parents that I simply “had to get over it”. Such comments still make me furious. They are hugely unfair and ever so hurtful.
    However, part of the problem is that nowadays it’s very popular to declare oneself sensitive to — insert whatever comes to your mind here — one week and forget all about it the next. Only recently I had lunch with a friend who some days earlier had told me that she had a serious sensitivities regarding gluten and nuts and when I met up with her she was happily munching a chocolate bar that contained both. When I asked her about it she just assured me that she had re-assessed the situation and come to the conclusion that maybe she wasn’t sensitive to either after all…
    Since I have observed exactly the same thing with many of my friends (I can still remember when back in the late 90s every person I knew suddenly discovered that they were highly sensitive to lactose and refrained from touching any milk product — for a couple of days or so.) I feel that such trends and whims are what those bullies need to strengthen their stupid arguments.
    Bee

  21. Lisa

    I don’t disbelieve you or think this is self-victimization…but I have literally never encountered this kind of behavior. We live in the PNW too, but travel regularly to the South and to New England, and the same has been true.

    Perhaps this is because the celiacs in the family are my kids, or maybe it’s because I am quick to tell the stories of the violent vomiting that happens at so much as a cross-contamination or the terror of watching them nearly starve to death before my eyes when they were tiny. Or maybe it’s because I make it pretty clear I suffer no fools on this issue. I’ve never seen as much as an eye-roll in the nearly seven years we’ve been dealing with this.

    I did read an article somewhere saying that celiac is a rich-person’s disease, and that no poor people ever get it. I sent a note to the author suggesting that she might not know very many poor people (the food bank I donate to is always begging for gluten-free items) or that poor people may not have access to the medical care that would diagnose celiac, which can be notoriously difficult to pin down. She responded, and we had a very civil exchange.

    1. Lisa

      Also, sadly, I won’t be able to read the full essay because the magazine is exclusively available for iOS, and we are an all Windows family (a Microsoft salary funds all our gluten free pancakes and gastroenterology visits, so we’re going to be a little brand-loyal). Bummer, because I am curious to read it and see the wider array of experiences you mention.

    2. shauna

      I have seen this behavior and heard it from many, many people. That’s part of the joy of my job, that I have the chance to hear many more people’s stories than simply my own.

  22. Kely

    As a purveyor of high gluten products I just want to say I applaud your attention you bring to this article and subject. For many years, I have seen many an industry jump on the gluten free band wagon yet still using flour and products that by themselves may not have glutten, but actually produce glutten once mixed together. Education is key and just because something is popular doesn’t mean its the right thing to do. Until I come up with a good honest glutten free method for creating pizza I will advertise we use high glutten flour. I offer a selection of items that are glutten free, but it’s limited. We will offer glutten free pizza crust eventually just like we don’t serve peanut products. High Fats reduce the glutten process, but then the cholesterol levels skyrocket, so sugar is used to stabilize then this sends the calorie counts high as well. It’s a mixed battle and those that try to profit from the “diet fad” that is a byproduct of a very serious issue are a culprit to misinformation. Thanks for articles like these and the awareness it raises. I’m a fan now.

    1. Dotty Young

      Kely, I’d be VERY interested to learn more about this!! What gluten-free products combine together to actually produce gluten?

    2. shauna

      Kely, I applaud that you don’t attempt to call your products gluten-free, since there is so much cross-contamination. However, I don’t know what you mean that gluten-free products mixed together produce gluten. Also, fats do not reduce the gluten content.

  23. Jean S

    It’s a rising tide. Anyone who wants to be a bully on food issues (of ANY sort) is like the person who goes down to the beach to watch a tsunami.

  24. Dotty Young

    Amen, Shauna! Recently, “Real Simple” magazine did an article on “Medical conditions you don’t need to worry that you have” or some nonsense like that. I was in a waiting room w/ my daughter, and read that, since ONLY 1% of the population have Celiac disease, and since ONLY 6% of the population is gluten sensitive, you don’t need to worry if you have gluten issues. If you have a family history, sure, get a blood test, but otherwise, don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

    Gee, I’m glad I married a mathematician, because I know that 1% plus 6% equals 7%, which comes out to ONE IN FOURTEEN PEOPLE. Nope, nothing to see here. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

    I wrote them a sarcastic letter to the editor, and posted it on Facebook–THANK YOU for writing about this important issue. :)

    1. Kimberly

      So it is acceptable for a person with gluten sensitivity to post something to Facebook and write a letter to a publishing house with a sarcastic tone when they feel the story is incorrect, but that is not bullying? But it is bullying if an extended family member accidentally makes something you cannot eat and you have to skip a part of a meal? I am seriously asking this question. It sounds like what you did is EXACTLY the type of behavior that Shauna was talking about, just on the other side of the issue.

      No need to be a bully about gluten sensitivity. On EITHER side of the issue.

      1. shauna

        Kimberly, I don’t believe that either one is bullying. If a family member makes a mistake, no one would call that bullying. Leaving a comment on a company’s, Facebook page, telling them that you are unhappy with a story, is the right of the consumer. You are making it clear from your many comments here that you are unhappy with what I wrote, but I am not calling you a bully.

      2. Dotty Young

        When someone with as much respect and authority as Real Simple magazine tells an entire population that they “don’t need to worry” about a potentially serious medical condition, comedy and humor and sarcasm can often make them see the ridiculousness of their position, without being offensive. I don’t believe that’s bullying at all. I certainly never called anyone a bully who made something I couldn’t eat.

  25. annelies

    I’m pretty sure I remember that cooking demo and the, “oops” there is gluten flour in there comment… What does it take for people to actually take what other people say at face value? And, why should it matter in the end? If I don’t eat pork for example, that does not make me a bad person. And, I don’t understand the vitriol that sometimes gets hurled at people who cannot eat gluten or they will get sick. There is an actual lack of understanding at work here. It bugs me a lot. But then again, bullies have always rankled me.

    1. shauna

      That’s what I will never understand. Why would it bother someone if another person cannot or chooses to not eat a food. How could it bother us? There’s a lot of complexity to this, of course. Food is a complicated issue in this culture.

      1. Rachael

        I completely agree with this statement and wonder that all the time. Why does anyone care what I choose NOT to eat?

  26. Charlotte

    I’d love to read your article but I don’t think I’ll be able to as I’m in the UK. I’ve read your blog pretty much since I found out I couldn’t eat gluten (6 years ago nearly) and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the same problems from someone else’s perspective. Every time I go to America I find eating out so much easier. Over here, I rely on people in restaurants to tell me whether something has gluten in it and i’ve had the weirdest responses. I went out for a thai meal and the waitress stood there and said “oh I can’t eat Gluten either but the curry only has a tablespoon of flour in it and I’m fine!”. Hmmmm…. I think wires might have been crossed rather badly on that one! I’ve had numerous incidents like this one and over here there’s nothing to stop them from claiming it’s gluten free when it’s not. Choices are so limited as well. I went to a little cafe and my mum (bless her!) tried to explain Coeliac disease and the woman replied “oh so a croissant would be ok?!” WHAT?! I do feel like people judge me for being gluten free and it’s not like they’re subtle. You get everything from people not understanding to people refusing to understand and labelling you as picky. Rubbish. I’m not picky as I’m sure none of you are! Bullying may not be the correct choice of words but I certainly know what you mean… I say this with all the love in the world… BRAVO Shauna :)

  27. Lisa

    This has been one of the most frustrating parts of being gluten-free for me. I have some friends who are literally appalled by my (medical) choice and make fun of me for it, ‘Oh, what do you eat now?’ or ‘We forgot, Lisa doesn’t eat anything anymore.’ I feel like I have to apologize for it, and even when I go to restaurants I try to be as little of a bother as possible. In fact I recently ordered from the gluten free menu, and my dish seemed to have a flour batter, and I almost didn’t send it back until my friend insisted. I thought maybe it was a gluten free flour and was going to eat it to be polite. I’m glad I sent it back, since it turned out they had sent out someone else’s dish (so they said) and I got the version with flour.

    Also, I am pregnant, and people seem to think I’m putting my baby in danger by not eating gluten. That’s the most frustrating part actually, because I inform them that yes, I do eat carbs, there are plenty of gluten free options out there, and I am not starving my baby. Sigh.

  28. jacquie

    having been a vegetarian for more than 30 yrs this echo’s so many of the comments I have heard and had made to me. people become vegetarians for many reasons including that meat is just a problem for some people to digest — not that the reason you become a vegetarian or GF should matter at all. can we all just respect one another a little more and the individual challenges that we all have to face? please.

    I wish the online magazine downloaded to a PC since I don’t read on my phone or have an I-pad but I didn’t see a way to do that. it is a very interesting and timely concept though

  29. Shanique

    The more people request gluten-free accommodations in restaurants and at social events, the more societal adjustment there will be over time. I have already noticed a big change since I had to go gluten-free two years ago, although there is still a lot of progress to be made. I don’t require a full accommodation, just an option that will allow me to eat something in settings outside my home. Wish I could be more flexible, but I have no choice due to the bad physical reactions that I experience. I don’t make a fuss about it, so I expect others not to make a big fuss either! Shauna focuses on it because it’s a big part of the service she provides for viewers.

  30. Gina

    I recently took a nutrition class and the subject of food allergies and gluten was brought up. I actually had a fellow student debate that most people are going gluten free as a dieting trend and that it’s not necessary. Shauna you are so lucky to have a husband so willing to accommodate your needs. I am not so lucky and will often receive snotty remarks and frustration from my husband. Many times if he cooks dinner he will just not bother fixing something for me because he feels it’s too much of a bother. As if writhing in pain due to getting glutened is just a fashionable choice for me. Believe me, my life would be so much easier if I could eat gluten and dairy products.