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Dear Gluten Dude,

First off, and I know you get this a lot, I like your blog. I don’t know what else to say……it helps me a bunch though.

Anyway, I am a college student now and I’ve had celiac for the past few years. I know you had a post about dating a while back and now you are doing the celiac love story thing. We all know dating is so hard with celiac. However, it seems most of the stories are from ladies with celiac who found a guy who is great and does everything. I have yet to find a story online about a guy openly dating with celiac…..a lot of the guys with celiac seem to have been married before.

Now, I really hope this doesn’t sound sexist at all, but I just feel from a guy’s perspective, it’s different. It’s not a fun feeling to be on a date with a girl and looking for a place you can actually eat at with her on the spot.

I was wondering how you would address the issue of a guy with celiac dating. It’s just a tough issue for me, especially when I am a college student and get to meet some amazing girls. Thanks a bunch!

———————————————–

Oh boy…the dating scene. I was god-awful at it.

I’d like to think that it wouldn’t matter where you went; if the girl likes you, she’ll be happy to go anywhere with you.

But I know that’s not reality…especially when it’s one of the first dates where you want everything to be just so.

You want to come across as cool and confident, but I know that can be a battle when you have to worry about every morsel of food that goes into your body.

I know that if I was single again, I would struggle with it a bit; but not nearly as much as I would have when I was in college. Yes…age does have some benefits. Not giving a crap about what others think quite as much is one of those benefits.

You’ll need to do some planning ahead of time. You will need your safe go-to places and go-to menu items so you can keep the focus on the two of you and not so much on the food.

And when she asks why you’re not having any of the pizza, just confidently say “I have celiac disease. That sh*t would kill me.”

But I will open this up to the females out there.

Is there a certain approach he should take in dealing with his celiac disease when he is out on a date?

32 thoughts on “Dear Gluten Dude: Any Dating Tips for a Single Guy with Celiac?

  1. First dates don’t have to involve meals. Go do something active together, run, bike, skate, swim, ski, roller blade. Then go for lemonaid or coffee. Go to a concert. Pack your own picnic for the lake, bring some photos from when you were a kid or of a recent vacation, to keep the conversation rolling. Head to the movies, then take a walk under the stars.

    Cook for her on a subsequent date, and explain the ingredients as you go so she understands what is different (or not so different depending on the recipe).

    Most importantly, be yourself, be open, be a good listener, be a good sharer about yourself. Make eye contact, smile, be friendly. Be interested in her abd be present in the moment.

    Carry a new packaged toothbrush and toothpaste for both of you if you want to kiss her so you don’t get cross contamination. ;)

  2. Tracey has some awesome ideas! What girl wouldn’t want to go on a date like the ones she describes? Celiac or not. I think if you are comfortable with your condition, then the girl will be too. Its a conversation, albeit potentially lengthy. If she is really interested in you, she will be interested in learning about Celiac. If not, she’s not for you and better to find it out early.

  3. Just tell her what’s up! When you’re planning your date, ask what kind of food she likes, then try to find a gluten-free restaurant that serves it.

    If you don’t have a lot of gluten-free restaurants near you, just explain that you have Celiac, suggest what restaurants you can go to, then let her pick.

    I like the idea of a date that doesn’t involve dinner, too! I know as a single gal I would enjoy doing something on a first date that didn’t involve me being self-conscious every time I took a bite, or constantly worrying if there’s something in my teeth! AND ladies loooove the “cook for her” idea that Tracey mentioned. It shows us that you can do more than pick up the phone and order take-out!

    Good luck on the dating scene! :)

  4. Tracey, Sue, and Laura pretty much covered it all! :)

    But I will say this to you, kiddo. Celiac is an equal opportunity disease.

    It’s the same whether you’re a guy or a girl–and it’ s only an impediment if you make it one. Just be honest about it as you get to know each other and do not start with ” Hi, I’m Joe and I have celiac. soooo, will you be willing to brush your teeth after that beer ‘cuz I want to get busy later.”. :)

    One thing we have all learned is this: celiac comes with a built-in jerkometer. If she really likes you for YOU, the celiac is a “non-issue”,
    I promise you. I dated a guy in college with diabetes and he showed my his kit with the insulin, needles and meter on the 2nd date. I even saw him shoot up once, but I never gave it another thought. He was too cute to think about much else. ;)

    You sound like a great guy. Anyone worthy of you will not view celiac as a problem, but will, instead, embrace the opportunity to get to know you better and in turn, maybe learn to cook in new and inventive ways.

    Go, have fun and enjoy! Invite us to the wedding.

  5. Website called find me gluten free.com has been a god send for me “being normal”. The only times I have had embarassing stomach issues were when someone else in the group picked the restaurant. (Seriously TGIFridays how do you mess up chicken breast, mashed potato & cheese???)

    On the dating note, I like the advice the others have given. I can’t say I’ve been able to use it in the almost 3 years I’ve been diagnosed. I’ve been called “high maintenance”,”crazy diet girl is too much trouble” & guy that said “its a healthy way of eating I could embrace” kept having sudden scheduling conflicts at the last second so I had to say “look I like you & want to go out but don’t have time for this constant (3 times in a week) last minute reschedule stuff”.

    They make disposable tooth brushes with the paste built in. I haven’t checked the label but think they are a great non-threatening option. Guy that “happens to have” new toothbrush in bag for a date would be a little unsettling. Something disposable (yes bless the environment) would be less threatening & smaller from my view.

    Hopefully we both will find someone that “understands”. I would volunteer to help you out, you know practice & all that, but I’m guessing I was in college when you were born :(

  6. I’m a single lady and I opt for something active, non-food related especially for the first date. Before I had celiac disease that was a a turn on anyway b/c it was creative and not run of the mill. Cooking for a lady is super impressive and having your go to restaurants is key. I know I have anxiety about new restaurants and first dates are already anxiety ridden so just take the food part out of the equation!

  7. Hey there College Man :)

    Try to keep your spirits up!! College is stressful as it is, i hear you on that. Being single with Celiac + College=sucks. One never knows, are you aggressive or a laid back kind of guy?
    Have you thought about posting to a dating website. Bleep. Are there websites for meeting/dating for celiacs? Another idea….I sometimes wear a celiac t-shirt casual fridays at work. Buy one and wear it around campus. I have a feeling that it will spark some coversations. It does when i wear it-are you celiac? I know so and so that is celiac, can you tell me more about it? etc, etc. Give it a shot!

    Cheers!

    Jersey Girl
    ______________________________________________
    Andy: You guys, she’s picking me up in a hour.
    David: Oh, drag, dude.
    Cal: She’s picking you up from here?
    Andy: Yeah.
    Cal: That’s fucked up, man.
    Andy: Why?
    Cal: Why?! Seriously! I mean, look at this place, man. You gotta see this through the eyes of a woman, you know? What is she going to think when she comes in here? “Look! He’s got a billion toys!”
    Andy: So what?
    Cal: And more video games than a teenage Asian kid.
    Andy: Okay.
    Cal: [Pointing to an action figure on a shelf] Is that the Six Million Dollar Man’s Boss?
    Andy: That’s Oscar Goldman.
    Cal: Why do you have that?
    Andy: That’s worth a lot of money. That’s much more valuable than Steve Austin.
    Cal: Well, that may be the case, but none of this shit is sexy, okay?
    Andy: I’m not trying to be sexy, man.
    Cal: [Pointing to a framed poster] I mean, seriously, Asia? You framed an Asia poster? How hard did the people at the frame store laugh when you brought this in?
    Andy: They did not laugh at me.
    David: Know why you’re gay? Because you like Asia.
    Andy: You guys, cool it with the gay! You know, she on her way here, okay?
    Cal: First, you relax, okay?
    Andy: Just stop calming me down and tell me what I should do.
    Cal: Okay, we just take everything that’s embarrassing and we move it out of here so it doesn’t look like you live in Neverland Ranch.

    ——————————————————————————–
    ~40 Year-Old-Virgin

  8. I dated a guy in college where our best dates barely involved food at all – they were mostly long walks through the historic area near campus, or lying on a picnic blanket beneath the stars. When we did have food, it was usually ice cream (on a cone, that was before gluten intolerance for me) – just explain to her your dietary restrictions. Like stated above, you want a girl who wants to spend time with you. Plus, cheap and free dates are great for the cash-strapped college student.

  9. I like the Dude’s advice on this one – go where you know it’s safe and if asked be straight up cool and confidant with a little meh…food is such an intergral part of society, it’s hard to avoid it – you might come off as being cheap not to go to dinner…thanks goodness I’m old, female and married I think you dudes have it way rougher than us in some ways. Best of dating luck -I hope for a love story from you in the future,

  10. I was always a fan of foodless dates. Or near foodless dates. Heck, my husband and I are planning a near foodless date for our anniversary next week! We’re going out for frozen yogurt (or some such, maybe cupcakes, really pushing for cupcakes) after our activities. Things like that are fun and cheap and involve so much more talking and so much less money. A girl who is going to be all “but you didn’t take me out to a nice place to eat” is really only after a free meal or your wallet, or doesn’t have an open enough mind to be fun.

    Even in winter, if it is cold where you are, start researching things that are cheap or free or just restaurant free. Do you have a local candy factory that does tours? Those sorts of things are almost always free because they expect you to spend a fortune before you leave. Zoos, planetariums, aquariums are all a little pricier but still cheaper than dinner for two and show a lot more personality and give a lot more room to get to know someone. One of my favorite activities? Miniature golf. You learn a LOT about a person from such a simple yet super competitive game.

    So much good advice already. Just relax, and be yourself. The same rule applies to you. Any girl who can’t accept you and love you as you are, sans gluten, doesn’t deserve you.

  11. I love all the suggestions given here. But I also second GD’s idea – do some planning ahead of time. Have some restaurants you know in your back pocket so you don’t have to worry as much about the food. Throw a set of the basic restaurant cards in your wallet (Spanish, Japanese, and Polish work well in Chicago, but that may not work elsewhere).

    Also, when it comes to the date, don’t be shy about it. Confidently talk to the servers. Make like this is not a stressful, unusual situation for you but an everyday thing that you can handle (because you have to), and she won’t be weirded out. Seriously. Chicks dig confidence and we respond to how the other person on the date is handling things.

    That said, planning your dates around non-food activities is a good idea, but be prepared that a food situation may come up, and you’ll do fine. (Might I also suggest cider tastings or vodka events so the beer issue doesn’t come up? ;-) )

  12. First of all you should be yourself. A first date could be a coffee date. Some coffee places have fruit and that’s safe. You should be honest after all, if that person truly likes you—-and liking a person is more important than love as its the building block of love, that person will understand. The paramount issue is that you have Celiac disease and ANY gluten will make you sick for days. It can always be approached as an allergy if you so choose. Being calm in a restaurant is your first line of defense. Take it slow, go with the flow. My father always said to me “There is someone for everyone”. Take a deep breath, tie a rope around yourself, and jump in. Own it!

  13. There are some really good suggestions above. It’s tough to say because I am a long-time removed from college and have been married for the better part of 10 years, so dating someone new isn’t exactly in my realm of knowledge these days. BUT, I think you just have to be creative and think outside the box. It’s a tough conversation to have with people when you first meet someone, so if it’s that uncomfortable, try to steer clear of eating out. You can go to a movie or rent a movie and get your own popcorn and snacks you’re sure you can have. You could go for coffee at a place you know to be safe….or go for ice cream in the same way. You could definitely order take out from someplace you know you’ll be okay to order from and just order out of ear shot. Depending on where you live and what’s available, there are a lot of pizza places now that offer GF pizza or ever GF take-and-bake pizza, so maybe that’s an option. You wouldn’t even have to tell her it’s GF unless you wanted to. Definitely cooking her dinner would be nice, but some guys don’t like to cook and if you live in an apartment with other guys, that’s probably out too….the whole privacy thing. I would say that your best bet is to try to find some things to do that don’t involve food. Give it a few dates and see how it goes. If you really like the girl, then tell her. And if she really likes you, she won’t care. It really shouldn’t be that big of an issue if someone matters. Good luck!! :)

  14. A lot of good advice! I wanted to echo the folks who said that your comfort is really important – if you know of a range of restaurants that are safe for you, and are confident in how you order, you can keep it from being a bigger deal than you want it to be.

    Since a lot of fad diets are adopting the whole ‘gluten-free’ thing, I have sympathy for feeling awkward around it. But if you approach things with a straightforward ‘I have celiac disease and can’t eat gluten, so just wanted to make sure the _____ is gluten-free,’ I think you should be set. If your date asks questions, then this can segue well into what you can + can’t eat, and will set the stage for a discussion about kissing when it comes up later.

    One thing I think would be a good idea is to ‘practice’ what you’ll say if your date asks you about your celiac – since there’s a LOT of information around it, it can be kind of an information dump if you’re not careful. (I’m a chatty person by nature, so have consciously had to keep myself in check on this one!)

  15. Nothing – NOTHING – is as sexy as honesty! We love it when men open up emotionally – so after you meet someone you like, bring it up casually and then just go for it. Impress her with dates that don’t involve food – or cook meals for her in the safety of your own house! Then bring up your story with a bottle of wine. Don’t treat it like ex-girlfriend baggage – just describe it as part of you that’s important to you. A girl has to respect that about you, or at least understand it. And if she doesn’t, she’s not the one!

  16. Dear Single College Dude With Celiac,
    I, myself, would take it as a personal challenge to find a special place that we could eat safely together. If there was not a place that we could “go out” to eat together I would make sure that I learned how to prepare gluten free meals and I would probably go gf right along with you. There is a woman out there that will WANT to learn about your Celiac and WANT to watch you enjoy a meal as much as she does!!!!! Just chill out and wait for it to happen!!!!!

    Jersey Girl….LMAO!!!! I LOVE 40 yo virgin!!!!!!

  17. I agree with the other commenters: don’t do food dates.
    Not just because of the celiac issue. Frankly, food dates are kind of lame. So many things to do that don’t involve staring across a booth and worrying if you need to pick food out of your teeth.
    Also, way more budget friendly to go to a local outdoor festival, go to a weird museum you never had an interest in going to before, go to the thrift store and try on crazy coats, go to the arcade and blow some quarters, play board games at your friendly neighbourhood board game cafe (what, your city doesn’t have one of these?).
    The possibilities are endless. You can impress her with your personality and build rapport before you feel like celiac is going to get in the way.
    As a single girl with multiple food allergies, I cringe at the idea of the “food date.” How do I handle it, what if I get sick, can I sit there without eating if it feels unsafe?
    The best was when I dated a guy and we just never ended up having the “food date” and never spent much money going out, apart from cover at shows or cups of coffee. It was such a relief not to have to worry about the food issue. I could just be myself and have a great time.
    Also, if you’re looking for the keeper, she’ll be someone who sees YOU, not the celiac disease.

  18. Plenty of girls may actually appreciate the chance to not act like “one of the guys” by swilling beer and matching their date’s pizza consumption slice for slice. The need to express a certain nonchalant attitude about food while also avoiding the freshman fifteen can be a tough part of being a college girl. (Obviously, this is a generalization…but I bet you’d be surprised at how many girls are NOT all that bothered by eating only at places they most likely view as “healthier” choices.)

  19. Yeah, recently I’ve been dating a bit, so I’ve got this covered. My string of early dates: a hike, a coffee, another hike, bowling, supper at his house, supper at my house, a movie, an art gallery, dancing, more dancing, workout together at a gym, salsa lessons, skiing. The one time a guy took me out for a meal after a first date at the art gallery (he was famished), he ate and I had a drink. I said that was cool (I’d eaten before). But at some point, I picked up his plate and SMELLED it. It smelled so good! I asked him first, but he still looked at me weird… that one didn’t last.

  20. Gluten Dude, this dude needs to join a local celiac support group. In my 30+ years of being a Celiac I find the women outnumber the men in these groups usually 10+ to 1. If his local group is anything like our NYC Celiac Meetup group, there will be tons of caring Celiac women that would love to date this guy!

  21. I just read this… Like, honestly? Where were YOU some 15 years ago??? :P I’d kill to have someone like you to date right now! You see, most guys I know usually take the girls where they “think” she might like to go. So, even if she doesn’t have any allergies, she may have some food preferences… I can come up with two suggestions: (My wonderful friend James does this for me -too bad he’s gay!). Come up with like 3 restaurants that offer GF menus and ask her to pick one of those. Or, ask her to come up with 3 restaurants and, maybe there’s one that offers a GF menu among those. Perhaps, looking together for GF places on the internet might turn out to be an interesting search! She might even like to try it! All of my friends love the GF things that I cook or bake, better than the “real” thing! Good luck, sweetie! And let us know how it went… ;)

  22. Would anyone here be interested in a Celiac and / or food allergies, dating site? I’m weird about dating sites but it seems that people have way too much trouble finding people they’d be good with, let alone having Celiac and allergies….thoughts?

  23. As a single 20-something, I am also in the celiac dating scene. I have a couple go-to places or I suggest coffee instead. Typically, I don’t bring up that I have celiac on the first date. It’s just easier to pick a place, order what I know is safe, and not explain.

    And having a toothbrush handy for the girl would be super weird. I totally get it, but I still would be weirded out.

    Like many of the people said above, how YOU present it is key. If you handle yourself confidentially and limit your locations to places you trust, it will be a minor issue. That’s what I’ve done and everything works out smoothly. Well, celiac and food wise, the dates not so much…..

  24. I’m a fellow (female) college celiac who also struggles with dating. I tend to prefer to drop the Celiac/ gluten bomb much later into the relationship unless there is unavoidable (life or death) situation where I absolutely must tell them. While I agree with the foodless date ideas (all good!) sometimes situations with food become inevitable, which subsequently can become disastrous. (If you’re on a foodless date, and say it’s going well, at one point or another SOMEONE will get hungry!) I find it necessary to prepare just in case.

    Speaking of dating, I am one of those Celiacs who is absolutely SICK and tired of being *that* customer at restaurants. I’ve been strictly gluten free for 8 years now, and I am STILL terrified of eating out. Even more terrified of eating at someone else’s house…don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s next to impossible to go on dates (especially with someone new) without feeling like you’re being difficult and making a bad impression. It’s exhausting to be the one – EVERY time at a restaurant – who asks too many questions, makes a million food substitutions, AND has to call over the manager to ensure that there is no cross-contamination, etc etc. A good date can go completely awry just because you’re being interrupted every 5 minutes with another gluten question. Sometimes you feel like you’re being treated like royalty “Ma’am, this dish has been prepared on it’s own pan and in a completely separate part of the kitchen from everything else…” but most of the time it makes you out to be a pretentious gluten-free snob. Frustration and self-consciousness kick in. And of course, there’s always the likelihood that the server will smile and nod and say “of COURSE there will be no gluten on that! …Soy sauce is okay, right?”

    But we can’t avoid restaurants forever if we want to have a semi-decent social life. So how to deal with the inevitable food confrontation? If you must go out to dinner, I always call ahead and ask if there is someone at the restaurant who knows what Celiac disease is or understands how to handle food for a customer with a severe gluten allergy. Often, someone at a good restaurant knows what celiac is. I just ask the manager (or server etc) which items on the menu can be prepared completely gluten-free (for celiacs….not mostly ‘gluten free’). Then I know what I’m ordering (no need for questions!). The last step in the phone call is to make sure that the person you spoke with will be present during your date. Have them write it down if they won’t be there (i.e. Thursday night expecting Celiac customer). I have been lazy at restaurants (I remember all too well taking a bun off a burger last month…..hospitalized the next week), and I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure the kitchen is not caked in flour when you arrive. If you need to, mention that if you get glutened, a 911 call might be in order. That will get their attention to take you seriously. All of this pre-planning ensures minimal pain-in-the-ass attention. And since the restaurant has time to prepare for your arrival, you won’t need to worry about your date thinking you’re a crazy, eating-disordered person.

    But what to do about the spontaneous food situation when you can’t plan ahead for days? That’s easy. Go to a bar! Get a casual glass of wine, or, my fave, vodka soda w/lime. Any girl would gladly substitute food for liquor, especially if she’s the self-conscious around eating type.

    If food absolutely beckons: SUSHI. just plain sashimi. Rolls can be too risky. Just don’t use the soy sauce. If you eat rice, go for it. Sushi is the safest thing on the planet.

    You can also risk the bunless burger….this is another of my go-to’s. Just make sure that the burgers are far away from the buns. At Four burger, if you order it bunless, they give you a free salad. Score!

  25. Coming from the girl who dates the gluten intolerant dude…you have to find someone who is passionate about health. And not just the “I work out” crap, but the one who understands how your body is a freaking machine and needs to be treated right or it will break down. And asking a girl out that you barely know and then broaching the whole…”Oh hey, I have CD, how bout that weather…?” conversation will not end well in your favor. Get to know a girl first before you even consider anything romantic with her. It’s easier to tell friends than partners anyway. be honest with her. Don’t act like it’s not a big deal. Tell her you will frickin’ hurl in her face if she insists on playing that let me feed you game. I know it might not sound romantic, but a good sense of humor goes a long way :)

  26. Whenever I go on a date, I always make sure to fill up GF at home and head out fairly well fed. If it’s dinner out, I’ll have a salad with fish, chicken or steak, take most of it home and enjoy the wine instead. Most restaurants will have something like that. I avoid the ethnic restaurants (although I was always a bug fan of exotic eateries) because the spices can be tricky. Hopefully as you get to know your date better and she grows to like you even more, you can educate her and it won’t be a big deal. Good luck and live it up!

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