Gluten free is not just a diet, it is a medical condition

I know that I’ve written about my frustrations with misconceptions about gluten free living and dietary restrictions before, but really & truly it drives me a little nuts when I am told “oh so and so is gluten free and they’ve lost all this weight”. It bothers me, not because I am jealous that so and so has lost a bunch of weight (although I admit I am a little jealous). It bothers me because I fear that people think of the gluten free diet as being just that “a diet” and not a medical condition that requires significant attention and attention to detail regarding ingredients in foods, cooking preparations and so much more. I feel these views create a lack of seriousness in regards to what we go through and have to do each day.

It bothers me to hear that so many people view the gluten free diet as a diet meant to simply lose weight. For some, maybe cutting out gluten does enable them to lose weight and if so good for them. However, please do not belittle my very frustrating dietary restrictions into simply a weight loss program because that is not it at all.

I have to be careful when speaking with these people because after all they are never people I consider to be close friends or family members who know me well, know my dietary restrictions (Celiac) and know me as a strong willed, determined, sometimes overly cautious individual. Instead these people think I am just one of many following a fad diet and so-called “making a big deal over nothing”.

I have even found that some of these people feel that having to eat gluten free is “no big deal”. Ummm are you kidding me? Seriously? I think it’s a pretty big deal. I think I’d much rather not have to be so careful. I’d much rather be able to simply eat whatever I want whenever I want without direct consequences. I would much rather have my main concerns when going out to a restaurant for dinner be the question of “should I have the pasta or the pizza tonight”. But instead I have so many more things to keep in mind and take into consideration. I need to ask about preparation and contamination, I need to ask about seasoning and spices used; I need to ask questions to ensure the restaurant understands the severity of my dietary needs and knows that I cannot simply assume it is ok for me to eat. There are just so many things we with Celiac must take into consideration before we put any food in our mouths.

People just don’t seem to get it and while I do believe that we as a gluten free community are increasing the amount of information available to those people who do not understand, I want to do more.
Any ideas?

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta


  1. Wow. It most certainly IS a big deal and the fad GF diet right now is pissing me off too. However, There is a good side and thats the fact that because it's a fad right now I'm noticing a whole bunch of new products out there and stores carrying so much more!
    Not to get away from the fact that celiac SUCKS NANNY GOATS and it IS a medical condition, not a choice. I'm with you!

  2. What a great post. It really does reflect how most celiacs feel when they need to venture out into the gluten-filled world. I definitely think that you and Abisaac should look at submitting some of your articles to the Edmonton Celiac Circular. Your blog is such a great resource to the Edmonton community, we need to let more people know about it! :)

  3. @ Scully: I totally agree with you, as GF has been seen as a fad diet the positive of that is that there are more and more products and restaurants popping up that are seeking to catch those who are eating GF (whether by need or desire) either way, we benefit! Great point.

    @ Dani: You're right we'll have to look into that. Thank you for the compliments, it is so appreciated.

  4. My spouse is celiac and he is also nervous about how eating gluten-free seems to be becoming a fad, particularly with some high profile athletes. I think the only thing we can do is continue to educate people about the truth of celiac disease, one person at a time (especially servers and chefs!). The more that celiacs question ingredients and preparation methods at restaurants, the less likely restaurant staff will be to get wrong ideas, and possibly glutenize the next celiac guest to come along.

  5. All fantastic comments! And here I am commenting again.....
    People need to realize that there is no such thing as "just a little" That's what the fad diets are doing to us. My sister said, you can have just one! People definitely need to understand that this is a serious medical condition. not just for fun. Need to write a blog post about this now!

  6. Gluten Free is for Me!September 16, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    I feel your pain. I actually had someone (who I thought I knew quite well) look at me and tell me that my symptoms were "all in my head" after I explained how I felt better after eating gluten free food since being diagnosed as a Celiac.

    I'm afraid that as much as we can educate the masses about the medial gluten free diet, there will be those out there who will choose to think it's nothing more than a fad or a joke.

    I, personally, have run into people who tease newly diagnosed Celiacs about what they are limited to digest in the non-gluten free world. I find it very arrogant and immature of these people. I now respond to their teasing with "Would you tease or make fun of someone with Diabetes or Cancer?". And then I educate them about the severity of Celiac disease. It may seem a bit abrupt but I, who was also teased by my peers after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of 27, found that these people wouldn't think of gluten-free as anything other than a joke!

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