Being “gluten-free” and having Coeliac Disease are two completely different distinctions that people often fail to comprehend. Here’s some more annoying misconceptions about Coeliac Disease.
1. You’re on a ‘fad diet’.
Yes I’m eating gluten-free. No it’s not by choice – why would it be?! All these people following a ‘fad’ diet that excludes gluten (without medical reasoning) have somewhat ruined the experience for those of us who don’t have the choice. Many food establishments that advertise ‘gluten-free’ aren’t Coeliac-friendly, because we’re just on fad diets too yeah? Erm NO!
2. Just a little bit won’t hurt.
If I punched you just a little bit it won’t hurt, right? I can’t even count the amount of people that have said this to me, even my own family. Coeliac suffers shouldn’t be subjected to even the smallest amount of gluten, not even a crumb. Even if we don’t experience any immediate physical symptoms, the smallest traces of gluten can cause months of untold damage to our guts. Coeliac Disease is an immune response to gluten – yes, our immune systems literally attack our own guts if we eat gluten. The gut can then take years to fully repair itself which is why it’s so important for sufferers to remain on a strict gluten-free diet for the rest of their lives.
3. Getting ‘glutened’ is just like getting food poisoning.
To the untold eye, yes. When a Coeliac consumes gluten they will appear to have the same symptoms as food poisoning, but it’s actually whole lot worse. Symptoms can differ from person to person, but usually consist of nausea shortly followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, horrific abdominal cramps for hours on end, followed by ‘brain fog’ and a general feeling of being completely worn out. As before, it’s a rapid immune response which can leave you susceptible to minor illnesses for a weeks after – not something that just disappears within 48 hours!
4. We ‘enjoy’ the gluten-free label.
No-one enjoys having Coeliac Disease and not being able to eat gluten. There’s so many things we miss out on, so many times where we’ve been unable to find anything to eat or been caught out by something we thought was gluten-free. Speak to anyone with Coeliac Disease and they will name 5 things they miss about not being Coeliac in a microsecond. That’s not to say that we can’t enjoy life, enjoy food and have fun – it’s just a lot more difficult for us. We don’t enjoy being the awkward one at parties, or the one everyone feels sorry for when the restaurant doesn’t have any gluten free options. It’s not what you call ‘fun’!
5. Eating gluten-free is good for you.
Well, it depends. If you eat gluten-free food and don’t include the gluten-free alternative products, I imagine the diet would be reasonably healthy. I mean, especially if you subtract all the takeaway meals and fast food stops you can no longer enjoy. However, many of the gluten-free alternative products are packed full of fat, sugar and oil (especially palm oil) to make up for taste and texture often lacking in gluten-free food. Next time you pick up a packet of gluten-free biscuits, check for yourself. Just because they’re located in the ‘health food’ isle, don’t make them healthy!
6. you’re gluten free? me too!
Nah, don’t even. If you choose to eat gluten-free, we are definitely not on the same page. Not only do people with Coeliac Disease have no choice, we can’t just stroll into a restaurant claiming to be gluten-free and just happily sit down and eat. The same goes for the gluten-intolerant or wheat-intolerant who aren’t as sensitive to gluten and don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. What really grinds my gears is when a gluten-intolerant person complains about the lack of gluten-free options, then decides to eat gluten anyway and just ‘suffer the consequences’ for the sake of a doughnut. Go away!
7. We’re just being fussy
OK, if you think that eating the slightest crumb doing untold damage to your gut is being fussy then see ya! Trust me, if we had a choice not to be ‘fussy’, we’d take it!
8. Eating gluten-free is expensive
Yes, many of the gluten-free alternatives you find in supermarkets and specialist stores are more expensive, but eating gluten-free doesn’t have to be expensive. Compared to when I was diagnosed back in 2011, the price of gluten-free food has come down considerably. Many supermarkets now have an excellent range of own-brand gluten-free foods at half the price of other brands. Some supermarkets have better choice than others so it’s always worth shopping around and making the most of any special offers!
Life isn’t always a breeze, but we make do! What misconception about Coeliac Disease annoys you most?
Happy reading 🙂