I’ve been gluten-free for just about six full years now. It’s been so long that I can hardly remember what life was like before celiac disease.
However, everyday that I’m gluten-free, I’m reminded that it’s not easy being gluten-free. No, it’s not. There are real struggles gluten-free people have to face day-in and day-out.
Unfortunately, most gluten-eating people have little sympathy for the plight of a gluten-free dieter, mainly because they think the gluten-free diet is just a fad diet, or maybe they diss the GF way of life because they want to feel better about the fact that they continue to eat gluten (even though gluten has been proven to create inflammation in all humans).
Whatever the case, gluten-free people face real struggles. Today, I will share with you 15 struggles that only gluten-free people will truly understand.
(1) Paying More for Less Food. Have you ever noticed that pizza places offer gluten-free pizza, but they give you a smaller pizza pie and charge you $2+ just because it’s gluten-free. “I like paying more for less food,” said no gluten-free person EVER!
(2) I’m Not Trying to be Difficult, But… If a salad comes with croutons mistakenly placed on it, I have to send it back. Not even a crumb of gluten can touch the plate and, no, I can’t just pick off the croutons. The same goes for burgers – I cannot just pick off the bun. I’m not trying to be difficult when I send my food back and request one made (san croutons or bun), but I sure do sound like a diva!
(3) Um, Rice is Actually Gluten-Free. Eating out when you’re gluten-free is full of fraught and frustration. (You can read my best tips for eating out gluten-free here.) So many servers have told me I can’t eat something because it has rice in it, for example, however, rice is totally gluten-free. Few people truly understand what is and isn’t gluten-free, so everytime we eat out, we have to take precious time explaining and educating the staff on what we can and can’t eat. It’s exhausting.
(4) Yes, I Have a Dozen Different Flours in My Pantry. Baking used to be so easy and I used to have just one flour…. but now, as someone who bakes exclusively gluten-free, I need a lot of different flours. I even have a container of xanthan gum in my cabinet too – only gluten-free people have that and understand the need for a variety of different flours and starches.
(5) Wait, There’s No Food For Me? All us gluten-free folk have been in this exact situation. We’re at a wedding, special event, work conference, etc., and yep, there’s plenty of food for everyone else, but no gluten-free options for me. The host didn’t think of us, after all. Guess I’ll eat that gluten-free bar I keep in my purse for emergencies like this.
(6) It’s OK for a Gluten-Free Cookie. My cooking and baking get judged by gluten onlookers often. “It’s not that bad,” I’ll hear, or “I could eat this if I had to.” Geez, thanks for your (gulp) “compliment.”
(7) Where’s the Bread? If you find a decent gluten-free bread, I’d really like to know about it, please.
(8) Eating at a Friend’s House. While it’s nice to get invited to someone’s house for dinner, for those of us on a gluten-free diet, eating at someone’s house is a big source of anxiety and A LOT of work. There’s a lot of explaining and planning. I often find myself spending the day cooking in order to bring a few safe dishes to my friend’s house. I rarely get to sit back and simply get hosted. If you’re going to host someone who is gluten-free, please read my article about how to safely host your gluten-free friend for dinner first.
(9) There’s Never a Break From Being Gluten-Free. While people on a variety of diets will allow themselves “cheat” days, or they don’t fret if they ate something outside of their diet parameters, there’s never a break from being gluten-free for us celiacs and gluten sensitive folk. We can’t eat just a little gluten and be okay. Ever. We constantly have to think about what we can and can’t eat.
(10) No Dedicated Fryer? Blasphemy! Gluten-free people like French fries too but we can’t eat ’em if they’re cooked in a shared fryer that contains oil used to cook foods containing gluten (like chicken nuggets).
(11) Planning Your Day Around Grocery Shopping. Until you’ve been gluten-free for a few years, grocery shopping is such a chore… a long chore. There’s no such thing as quickly shopping for the week. When you’re at the grocery store, you’re at the grocery store for awhile!
(12) I Hate “Gluten-Free Friendly” and “Gluten-Conscious” Menus. Blech. Restaurants use these confusing terms to get out of offering safe gluten-free meals for those who need it most. Just tell me if it’s gluten-free or not and please don’t give me the run around about whether or not my meal can safely be prepared gluten-free. I just want to eat something safe and feel normal, okay?
(13) Domino’s, Papa Murphy’s and Papa John’s. These pizza joints offer gluten-free pizza that isn’t really gluten-free. Even if they’re using a gluten-free crust, they’re taking no precautions to prepare a pizza that is safe for someone with celiac disease. Papa John’s even says that people with celiac disease should not eat their pizza. These restaurants are simply teasing us gluten-free folk with food we can’t actually eat. You all suck.
(14) Who Put Gluten In My Rice Krispies? You know what, if you make a product with “rice” in it, it should be gluten-free. Please, please, please leave all rice products alone. They don’t deserve to be glutened and it’s just so darn confusing when you add things like barley malt to Rice Krispies, which should be a naturally gluten-free product but isn’t!
(15) Stop Calling My Diet a Fad Diet!! Being gluten-free is no fad to me nor the millions of people who have diagnosed celiac disease or who suffer from gluten sensitivity symptoms. Quit calling it a fad and thinking it’s okay to poke fun at us – just stop it! Gluten-free is not a fad diet and if you still think that, you just a big bully.
There you have it – 15 struggles that only gluten-free people will truly understand.
Which one resonates with you the most? Are there other struggles you face as a gluten-free dieter that I did not include on this list? Please sound off in the comments section.