5 Things You Should NOT Say To a Celiac (or her mom)

Keep it to yourself. Please.
flickr, misscelophane

As a celiac, or in my case, a mom to a celiac kiddo, you hear a lot of annoying things about food. Sometimes it’s about food you can eat, but often it’s about what you can’t.

While most people don’t mean any harm, sometimes harm is done regardless. Some comments make me cringe, others make me feel like this:

flickr, Greencolander

Most of the time I nod and smile, or change the subject, but neither of these coping mechanisms is very helpful. How will anyone figure out what’s offensive if you don’t tell them? It’s tricky though, because people get guarded (I know I do) when they’re called out about saying the “wrong” thing. I get it.

So let me try to make it easier. Here are my top 5 things NOT to say to a celiac, or in front of one, because let me tell you, those small ears hear everything.

Feel free to pass this list along to those who may need some (gentle) help. No judging here.

And now, here it is. The comment first, then my commentary. (You didn’t think I would have nothing to say in response, did you?)

  • “I just had the most amazing cake/cookie/pizza/pasta … “

I’m sure you did. I can see it in my mind, and almost taste it. And so can my kid. This kind of careless statement could make a grown man cry. Especially my husband, if you’re talking about chocolate croissants.

  • “Do you want to go to blah-blah restaurant? Oh wait, never mind. There’s nothing you can eat there.”

Thinking out loud is really the problem here, and perhaps this isn’t as upsetting if you’re a grown up. But to a kid, getting uninvited to a glutinous restaurant hurts. Probably better to check in with the parent out of earshot of small humans.

  • “Wow, that cookie/cupcake/cracker/pizza/etc is really good … for gluten free.”

Ouch! Okay, so this may be true to you in the moment, but to us GF-ers – big shocker here – we may actually like the taste of our GF food in and of itself. So a comment like this reminds us that what we’re eating seems subpar to everyone else. Bottom line: You may not mean it to, but this comment sucks.

  • “There’s so much gluten free stuff around now!”

Believe me when I say I’m grateful that my girl was diagnosed in 2011 and not 2001. Or earlier. The GF options nowadays are of better quality and quantity, BUT, that doesn’t necessarily make everyday life easy. Food is social, and so much of it is full of G. Like, for instance, bagels (see #5). And croissants (see #1).

  • “Want to go out for bagels?”

Never. Ever. Say this to a celiac.

The bagel thing is just tragic. Seriously. I weep for gluten bagels, the ones I used to share with my girl and husband. The ones that are thick and chewy and melt in your mouth, as opposed to the pathetic GF ones that are really just crumbly wads of bread snaked into a giant puffy circle and then sold for (at least) 2 bucks a piece. Frozen. I don’t even buy them anymore. I think it’s possible that they got more disgusting.

So that’s all I’ve got for now. But I know there’s more. Please let me know what comments make your top 5.

8 thoughts on “5 Things You Should NOT Say To a Celiac (or her mom)

  1. “There’s so much gluten free stuff now!” irritates me to no end. For starters, it minimizes what you’re/we’re going through. You wouldn’t say to someone who found out they had cancer, “Oh well at least there’s chemo now!” Not to mention, all the gluten-free foods are processed foods anyway. If you want to go from gluten-full processed foods to gluten-free processed foods, it’s fine, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest.

    • I love that I’m not the only one who is so annoyed by that one!! It’s SO minimizing. And I find people say it almost immediately upon hearing the words “gluten free.” I get that they think they’re being helpful, but it’s frustrating because the thing newly diagnosed celiacs need most is compassion, not someone to “fix” the problem.

      • Yes, they really do! “At least there are so many options nowadays!” Someone told me the other day that Celiac disease is really popular nowadays. LOL.

        Plus, all the gluten-free menus at restaurants are BARELY meant for people with Celiac disease as there’s often too much of a risk of cross-contamination. So yeah, it’s frustrating.

  2. Pingback: Taking a Stand | celiac kiddo

  3. I think the worst one might be “hmm I think you’re exaggerating a little bit. I highly doubt you’ll get sick from using my toaster.” Or the lovely “I think you’re being a bit hysterical about this cross-contamination thing.” What a confidence builder.

  4. I got this comment from my sister-in-law when I was commenting on how much i miss bread that has gluten in it. Oh well theres worse things than celiacs disease like your child getting shot. Commenting on the latest news tragedy. What the? She was also the one who served everyone chocolate sauce even by diabetic husband except me because how was she to know if it had gluten in it. It was only plain chocolate, liquor and cream and she could have asked me before cooking it to check labels. Then rushed out and gave me chocolate squares and cream uncooked on my strawberries as if this is the same. Trivial I know but annoying.
    I feel hurt because my in-laws and family might buy gluten free dip but serve it with wheat crackers. My brother and his wife eat sweet biscuits in front of me when I visit and offer me rice crackers with coffee. So I have to bring my own treats. I have bought a packet of biscuits for mum to keep in her cupboard.
    Yet my husbands Aunt who is diabetic bought me gluten free chocolate biscuits when we stayed at her house for only 3 days. My husbands cousin was also wonderful and kind when I stayed with her buying me gluten free bread, biscuits and crackers so our holiday would be easier.
    My brother thinks I am over the top with this gluten thing. Yet he has rashes looks bloated and has health issues which may be related to celiacs disease but refuses to get tested.

    • Oh Janine, I feel for you! Some people really don’t get it and sadly some of those people are inevitably in our families. Mine too, sigh. I don’t think you’re being trivial at all. The social exclusion part of celiac is a very big deal. But I’m glad to hear some family and friends do understand. I certainly do! Come visit anytime for understanding and solidarity. Hope you have a peaceful holiday season.

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