I was staring at my computer screen, willing my fingers not to angrily type a reply to smear video about gluten-free people a Facebook friend had just shared.
I guess you could say I get a little emotional about this whole gluten-free/celiac thing.
The funny part is, I don’t even have celiac disease. Thank goodness, because I don’t know what I’d do without my yearly Papa John’s pizza indulgence.
But I’m married to a guy with celiac disease.
Unfortunately, too many “regular” people, aren’t happy enough just to live and let live in the area of gluten intolerance.
Oh, it’s not everyone, I understand that, but it’s a lot like white people and racism – we’re not all racist, not even most of us, but it’s the ones who are that make it look like everyone is.
It’s the few misogynists that make women feel like all men are out to get them.
The one kernel of wheat that contaminated the whole stack of gluten-free tortillas.
It’s unnerving for me, because I’m caught in the middle. I’m one of THOSE people. A wheat eater, but I cook gluten-free.
So I get the remarks. The “you people just need to eat what’s put in front of you” The “you shouldn’t make the church use gluten-free communion bread” (we don’t by the way, many churches do it as a courtesy – for which we’re very thankful!) the “God made wheat too ya know” remarks.
And then I get the other side, where people think that since my husband doesn’t eat wheat, and I do (sometimes), that I sympathize with their dislike of gluten-free folk. And boy do they have a lot to say about that.
And today, I’m fed up.
But while I’m not going to reply angrily to that Facebook video, there are 10 things I’d like you to know about gluten-free people.
10 Things You Need To Know About Gluten-Free People
Wheat is slowly killing them. Wheat damages the internal vili of the small intestine of a person with celiac disease. It makes them feel terrible, but worse, those damaged vili let toxins pass into the blood stream that shouldn’t. It causes new food sensitivities as the body tries to fight back. This autoimmune dysfunction can lead to more and severer allergies, leading to poor health, and eventually death.
Eating wheat for your sake, makes life impossible for them. My husband, the guy with celiac disease I mentioned earlier? I’ve seen him on wheat. No, it doesn’t send him to the hospital the way peanut allergies do, but it ain’t pretty let me tell you. It’s like he’s on drugs. He can’t think, he can’t function properly, He does things that make you question his sanity (not hugely weird things – like opening and closing the cupboard doors looking for something, but when you ask him, he says “uh, I don’t know”). In addition, he feels terrible
Going without wheat is hard. Do you think they cut wheat out of their diet for fun? If a person is cutting out all those fun foods (Krispy Kreme anyone?), don’t you think it’d be easy to convince them to go back if it truly didn’t make them feel terrible? Do you think they want to read every label, and scour store shelves for wheat-free products? Do you think they relearned how to cook completely differently because they didn’t have anything else to do? Yeah, probably not.
They know you think they’re weird …and they don’t care. Well, maybe on some level they care, but really, when it comes down to it, your opinion isn’t worth destroying their health over. So it doesn’t matter how loud you are, it’s not going to change their opinion.
They wish you would respect their limitations. What do I mean by this? Mostly, stop trying to sneak wheat in on them. It’s not nice. It hurts people.
They wish you would just drop it already. There’s no need to keep bringing up their “frivolous decision” to give up wheat. They know you disapprove, and it won’t change their minds. For them, going gluten-free isn’t a fad, it’s a necessity.
They know it isn’t necessarily healthier to give up wheat. There are a lot of nutrients you give up when you go gluten-free, and you have to consciously put them back in. Similarly, just because a package says “gluten-free” we know that that doesn’t necessarily make it healthier. It’s still packed full of grains and empty carbs, often with even more sugar than the original – we know that, and it’s why so many of us try to stick with home-cooked whole foods. The long and the short of it is, giving up wheat may not be healthier for everyone, but it’s healthier for them.
They know that giving up wheat isn’t a weight loss plan. Again, gluten-free substitutes can be just as calorie-dense, and nutrition-less as traditional junk food, and again, that’s why many of us avoid buying-prepackaged gluten-free treats except for the occasional actual treat. The sticky part is that while wheat is a perfectly legitimate source of carbs for many people, going gluten-free has gained popularity as a weight-loss diet, because those who are allergic to wheat often find that giving up gives their body the ability to finally lose weight, unhindered by what the body was seeing as toxins.
The bottom line is that going gluten-free may be a fad for some, but it’s not a fad for us. It’s serious business. We work hard to keep our homes and lives free from contamination. Sometimes we fail, and we – or in our particular family’s case, my husband – suffer the consequences.
That’s life, and it happens. And with all that said, there’s one last thing you should know about gluten-free peeps:
It’s okay to eat your wheat in front of them, they really don’t mind. Every gluten-free person I’ve ever known has gone through a phase where it’s hard for them to deal with not being able to eat food that they formerly loved, and during that phase, it hurt them a little bit to see us eat our wheat, BUT it they also – every one of them – got over it, because once you start feeling SO much better now that your not eating all those yummy things, and once you figure out how to make yummy substitutes that don’t hurt you and taste just as good, it just plain doesn’t bother you anymore.
It’s still inconvenient – hard even – to go without wheat, but they’re really, truly, not jealous.
And that’s why it was me, the wheat eater, straining at the bit to write a retort to that ugly video, and not an actual gluten-free or celiac person.