Celiac Disease. The name surely doesn’t give anything away as to what the disease is all about. As Celiacs, we struggle daily when friends, family and coworkers ask even the simplest questions. How detailed do we really need to be? It becomes a small dilemma in our everyday lives.
As difficult as it may sometimes feel, educating family and friends makes living gluten-free a lot easier in the long-term. If the people you surround yourself with understand your dietary needs, a more stress-free environment is created. You’ll hear less of those annoying comments and questions. “Can’t you just have a little?” is one that gets me every time.
This is how I like to answer a few common questions that family and friends ask about Celiac Disease:
- What is Celiac Disease? Celiac Disease is hard to sum up in a sentence or two. I usually like to explain that it is a hereditary autoimmune disease. When I eat foods containing gluten, my body attacks it as it would an invader causing a range of awful symptoms.
- What is gluten? This one is easy. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats.
- What happens when you eat gluten? I really despise this question. While I want to tell people what really happens when I get glutened, I will normally generalize my response. I’ll say something along the lines of being in pain for hours and getting physically sick. I also like to add that the effects of getting glutened will stick with me for a few weeks. It depends on personal preference and who you are talking to as to how you might answer this question. The most important thing is that the seriousness of a reaction is relayed.
- So what CAN you eat? Every Celiac has been asked this question, even by the most empathetic person. I sometimes get frustrated when people ask me this question. Depending on what type of mood I’m in, I’ll either make a joke out of it or explain that I do a lot of cooking at home. It is important for people to understand that we don’t just eat fruits and vegetables.
I’ve noticed that it takes awhile for friends and family to fully understand what Celiac Disease is and how frustrating a gluten-free diet can be. The most important thing is to be patient with people or you’ll start to become slightly crazy.
How have you helped family and friends understand your dietary needs?