One of the most empowering things about having celiac disease, at least in my opinion, is that our health is largely under our own control. By following a gluten-free diet and learning what foods help us feel our best, we can not only live with celiac disease, but thrive! However, sometimes we need to rely on accommodations from other people to stay healthy with celiac disease. And sometimes these requests can sound a little strange at first.
That’s why I’m talking about 17 “weird” requests that actually help people with celiac disease stay healthy! If you don’t have celiac disease but know someone who does, I hope this helps you understand the “why” behind some of their more unusual requests. If you do have celiac disease, I hope this lets you know you should not feel embarrassed or scared of asking for accommodations that make living with celiac disease a lot easier.
So whether you have celiac disease and want to stop feeling self-conscious about accommodations or are a celiac’s loved one and want to better understand what it takes to live with celiac disease, keep reading to discover 17 “weird” requests that help people thrive with celiac disease.
1. Let me have the top shelf of the fridge.
In order to make sure no crumbs will ever fall on my food, I always request the top shelf of the fridge when I’m sharing an apartment with people. Maybe this isn’t necessary since all of my food is always in containers anyway, but it makes me feel safer when sharing a fridge with people who eat gluten. And none of my roommates have ever minded when I call dibs on the top level!
2. Don’t judge me if I’d rather bring my own food to social events or restaurants, even if they have “gluten-free” options.
One of the hardest things about living with celiac disease is that many gluten-free options offered today are not actually gluten-free. So if we bring our own food to events or restaurants that supposedly have gluten free options, know we’re not trying to be difficult or picky. We’re just doing what we need to in order to be safe.
3. Avoid putting paper towels or plates you’ve already used back with the fresh/clean ones.
I’m all about reducing waste and reusing paper plates or towels when possible. However, if you’ve recently eaten some wheat-filled crackers on those plates or napkins, please keep them away from the clean versions! Otherwise, it can turn into a crumb-filled, crummy situation.
4. Please don’t rush me while I’m grocery shopping.
Even though I was diagnosed with celiac disease over five years ago, grocery shopping can still be a challenge. Why? Instead of being able to grab whatever looks tasty, we need to read the labels and sometimes look up products on our phones. If you see me staring at my phone in a grocery aisle, know it’s not because I’m a “stereotypical millennial” addicted to technology. I’m just trying to make sure some new brand of granola bars won’t hurt me!
5. Don’t eat my food without asking.
Have you ever spent the whole day drooling over the leftovers you know are waiting for you in your fridge at home… only to find out someone ate them all while you were at work? Now imagine that was the only “safe” food you had prepped ahead of time for the day… and you spent a ton more money on those special ingredients. A pretty cruddy situation, right?
That’s how it feels when someone eats the gluten-free snacks in our pantry or the “special” food we splurged on buying the day before without asking. It’s awesome that gluten-free food has improved so much, people who don’t have to eat gluten-free still want to enjoy it! But please check with us before you dive into our gluten-free goodies.
6. Brush your teeth before kissing me if you’ve recently eaten gluten.
Being glutened by a kiss is a controversial topic in the gluten free community. However, I personally have felt pretty crummy after kissing someone who recently ate gluten, so this is a common request I make with significant others. On the plus side, my boyfriends always joke that their dental hygiene skyrockets while dating me!
7. If you want to offer me some gluten-free food, leave it in the original packaging.
I’m always so grateful when friends or family bring gluten-free food to socials or other events to let me feel included. However, if you do want to spread some gluten-free love, keep the food in its packaging. Not only will this prevent cross-contamination, but it will let us read the labels and make sure it’s truly celiac safe and doesn’t have any other ingredients that bother our system.
8. If I get “glutened,” let me get some extra rest and forgive me when my brain’s too foggy to understand what you’re saying.
Everyone with celiac disease has different symptoms when they’re glutened, but I think we all need and appreciate some extra TLC when it happens.
9. Please don’t call attention to my “special” or “different” food.
I get it. When I attend a Friendsgiving and am the only one to bring a Tupperware container full of my own gluten-free food, I’m going to attract some attention. But I’m always appreciative when people don’t make a big deal of my different diet and let me enjoy the party or the club meeting or whatever event I’m attending along with everyone else.
10. Keep crumbs off the counter and dirty dishes out of the sink.
It may seem like we’re demanding neat freaks… but we’re just trying to lower the chances of cross-contamination in a shared kitchen.
11. Be patient when I need to spend time talking to a restaurant server and chef about my gluten-free food.
When you have celiac disease, eating out can be a big challenge. And unless it’s a 100% gluten-free restaurant or a restaurant we’ve gone to many times before, we’re gonna spend some time talking to our waiter and/or chef about our gluten-free meal. But know the extra time is worth it — we’re a much better dinner date when our meal is delicious and celiac safe!
12. Don’t laugh or get annoyed when I’m packing for a trip and 90% of what I bring is emergency food and snacks.
I know there are stores where we’re going for vacation. I know I don’t need to pack a million gluten-free granola bars for a three-day trip. But knowing I have some emergency gluten-free snacks on hand is a huge source of comfort. And if turns out that gluten-free food is hard to find where we’re going, my suitcase full of food is gonna be a lifesaver.
13. Be willing to experiment with some “far out” gluten-free foods, like buckwheat or banana milk or even chips made out of crickets!
Especially since the gluten-free diet became “fashionable” to eat, more and more unique gluten-free products have hit the market. And I’m not gonna lie — some of them sound a little strange at first! But I’m always super appreciative when friends or family aren’t afraid to try gluten-free food, or even experiment with some more unique products. And you might be surprised how delicious gluten-free food actually is!
14. Don’t be offended if I turn down some social invitations because I don’t feel like being around a bunch of food I can’t eat.
Most days, I don’t let my gluten-free diet get in the way of hanging out with friends and going to social events. But sometimes I don’t feel like going to a pizza party and packing my own food or watching everyone else eat. And it’s super helpful when friends and family know this and don’t judge.
15. Avoid bringing gluten into my gluten-free kitchen.
If we have an entirely gluten-free kitchen, it’s our “safe” place. So please don’t bring gluten-filled foods, especially without asking first.
16. Let me vent from time to time when I’m frustrated about my gluten-free diet or jealous of your amazing pasta salad…
Because as positive as I try to be about celiac disease, sometimes following a gluten-free diet is a major pain.
17. … But also help me remember how tasty gluten-free food can be — and how lucky I am to be able to thrive with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet!
I don’t even have the words to explain how powerful a positive, solid support system is!
The Bottom Line
At first glance, it may seem like all people with celiac disease have to do is take the wheat out of their diet. However, like I’ve written about before, a celiac disease diagnosis changes way more than simply a person’s diet. And sometimes that means we need to ask other people — friends, family, roommate, waiters, significant others and many more — for help.
And yeah, these requests can sound a bit weird the first time we ask. But know we’re doing what we need to feel healthy… and we are grateful for everyone who doesn’t mind lending us a hand.
This post first appeared on Casey the College Celiac.