It’s become a major fad to eat “gluten free” as a weight loss diet. People who don’t have celiac disease (or even an intolerance) are often choosing gluten free products, making sure they order gluten free meals in restaurants, and double checking what food they can eat by whether it has gluten in it or not (when they can, but they’ll be flexible if it’s too inconvenient).

These people are ruining my life.

I don’t mean you, girl with an intolerance who chooses to cut gluten out because it makes her feel sick. I don’t mean you, boy who finds out he has celiac disease after being in pain and malnourished for months. I don’t mean you, person who chooses to eliminate gluten 100% and stick to it because you feel more vital and alive.

I mean you, person who doesn’t care about soy sauce or a bit of flour, saying “A little bit won’t hurt.” I mean you, person who says they’re intolerant and then “cheats” on a brownie. I mean you, person who is gluten free without really being gluten free.

You are ruining my life.

See, when you tell a waiter that you’re eating gluten free but “a little bit won’t hurt,” when I come in and tell that same waiter that I need to eat gluten free (due to my extreme, medical, auto-immune disease) he assumes that since that “little bit” didn’t hurt you, it won’t hurt me.

When you say you’re gluten free and then eat a brownie, you undermine my need for respect for my severe (medical) dietary restriction. You undermine what people think of me, and my disease, and the precautions that people take to protect me.

When you say you are gluten free, you are representing a community of more than just yourself. You are representing people with intolerances, people with celiac disease, people with IBS. You are representing all of us, and you are ruining it for all of us.

If you choose to avoid gluten, that’s fine. Don’t partake of the bread basket at the restaurant. Don’t have croutons on your side salad. Don’t order the tortellini. But don’t tell someone you can’t eat the tortellini because you’re gluten free and then snag a ravioli off your dining companion’s plate “just to see what you’re missing.”

You are ruining my life. And I need you to stop. Have respect for all of the people that you are misrepresenting and stop trying to represent us.

Instead of saying “I’m gluten free, is there gluten in the pecan-crusted salmon?” just ask “What’s in the crust for the salmon?” Instead of saying you’re gluten free, choose items that naturally look like they should be gluten free – and feel free to ask more about what you’re eating. Avoid heavy sauces and dressings (thickened with flour), fried / crusted items, and most thick soups or chowders.

If you ask about gluten specifically, and they ask you if you’re allergic, please say no. Don’t hurt those of us with allergies to help yourself meet your choice to eat gluten free. We don’t have the privilege of making that choice.

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July 19, 2013

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