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Gluten Dude

I was more than blessed enough to be married already when I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

I can’t imagine dating while dealing with the food issues we’ve got to deal with.

As Mrs. Dude says jokingly (I think)…”Good luck finding somebody who will deal with all your issues.”

She’s got a point.

Which brings us to today’s guest post. It’s from Erica over at Celiac and the Beast, a fantabulous blog you should put on your “must-visit” list. She’s funny, interesting and informative.

Erica has been thru the gluten-free dating scene. And it isn’t pretty.

Erica…the floor is yours.

———————————–

I’ve been gluten-free for a few years now, but I was single for way longer than that. So when asked to write a post about living with Celiac disease, I first thought of what I was really really good at, and that was being single. I feel like a lot of people out there in the blogosphere can relate – as not everyone can be in a healthy, committed relationship. Some of us are stuck on Match.com and OkCupid hoping for the next best thing to appear in our inbox. Let’s have a chat about gluten-free dating, okay?

Like every single person, dating was the absolute worst, yet necessary, part of my singledom existence. Dating before going gluten-free was easy – you could go to any restaurant, anywhere, and order something tasty to share over what was sure to be an awkward first meal. That was hard enough as it is without adding in any dietary restrictions!

dating gluten free

Celiac and the Beast

When I first starting eating gluten-free, before I was 100% confirmed as a Celiac, dating now became an anxiety-provoking activity.

I’ll start with the story of Boy #1 – for those loyal readers of my blog, this is not my current Non-GFBF that writes with me.

When I met him, I sheepishly talked about my issues, and talked about going gluten-free. At first he seemed really supportive and we went forward with trying to date like normal people. I knew that alcohol was safe, so the bars would be the only place I would go at first. After exploring local restaurants, I had about a handful that I thought were safe (years later, I know that they weren’t, but everyone makes mistakes at first).

So, at least I had four or five places that I would go to that I could eat without having to ask the waitress a million questions at the table. I struggled with coming off as too agressive when dating, because I always had to choose the restaurant ahead of time – it was never my date’s job. He could never “surprise” me with a date, we had to plan on when and where we were going to eat.

During the course of our short relationship, I think we went to just two gluten-free restaurants. Every other date, we would just hang out because it was too difficult to deal with finding a restaurant. I think the worst part about it all was that he would drink my favorite beer in front of me! Now, I never wanted my potential life partner to go gluten-free – that would just be too perfect, but c’mon – don’t drink my favorite thing I could never have in front of me! It was just plain rude. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t work out, not just because of the gluten – but I think that was a part of it.

It really wasn’t him, it was me.

My early relationships mirrored my early gluten-free years in general. It was early in my gluten-free life and diagnosis and I was too timid, I was too afraid, I didn’t feel like myself. I couldn’t approach waitresses, restaurant staff, and chefs like I do now. I just assumed that everything was gluten-free and cross-contamination didn’t exist in the world. I didn’t take the reigns on my own health, because I was afraid of standing out and looking like a fool demanding food that was not going to poison me. I was afraid of asking questions, and afraid to question anything anyone said about their food. How ridiculous.

I went through several relationships after that – say Boy #2 (a chef who liked gluten-free, swoon!) and #3 – and every time I was stronger in my gluten-free convictions and more set in my ways. I was going to Mayo Clinic and felt more informed than I ever have been, even on dates.

“Oh, you don’t know the in’s and out’s of gluten-free? Well, let me educate you.”

“Oh, you’re going to take me to a non-gluten-free-friendly restaurant? I don’t think so.”

“You’re going to eat gluten in front of me? You better brush your teeth before you get a kiss from me.”

I was finally in charge of my health and I didn’t let dating get in the way! I started off my introductions with new guys as “I’m a celiac – that means I eat gluten-free. No wheat, rye, or barley. No, it’s not that bad, there’s plenty of places for us to eat!”

I began to feel confident again, and realized that someone who was going to love me was going to love me for all of me – even the weird food and the cookies that always crumbled because they had no elasticity.

But, alas, several relationships ended, as I’m just terrible at dating (but apparently really good at asking if fries are cooked in the same fryer as chicken nuggets now). After a while I was beginning to think that I was just going to be alone in my lifelong autoimmune disease, and really thought about adopting a few cats.

But then I met him – my Non-GFBF. I came in with the confidence of a champion and laid the wooing on thick. We started dating and I realized something awesome about this one. He 100% genuinely cared about my health, my diet, and everything about gluten-free. He praised me for doing something that “normal” people think is so tough – giving up all the great things we eat and subbing them for…ahem, more interesting versions of the products.

He began to start eating only gluten-free things when we went out for dinner. He started going shopping with me to natural marketplaces, and preparing meals together that we both could eat. He learned how to bake gluten-free, and even surprised me after a long flight home with a GF pizza at the airport he made from scratch. I had never found someone who was so willing to sacrifice his own gluten happiness for a relationship. 10 months later, we’re still going strong and now live together in a 99% gluten-free household (Seriously cats?!?! Why can’t you eat gluten-free food!).

He almost never ever eats gluten in front of me unless it’s an emergency (cookies are sometimes considered an emergency) and tries to keep his gluten relegated to occasional lunches at his office – far far away from me. He brushes his teeth as soon as he gets home so I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. He gave up beer and has switched to New Planet or Green’s when the mood fits him for a lager. He is practically a celiac – but he’s 100% amazing.

I am so lucky to have someone who puts up with everything it means to be a Celiac – restricted diet, crazy anxiety, more expensive groceries, crowded expos and strange restaurants. I’m so madly in love with him, and who he is as a person. His momma should be very proud.

Was that meant to be braggadocios? No, it was meant to inspire all of you single Celiacs/gluten-sensitives out there that this is someone out there for you.

And you can find someone who’s willing to embrace your special trait and celebrate it with you, not make you feel timid and afraid to be you (and healthy) out on a date! Not all of them are going to go gluten-free for you (I mean, can you blame them?), but they will be respectful of your diet and follow rules to make sure that you’re not glutenated and sick.

47 thoughts on “Love and Dating in a Gluten-Free Life

    • There is someone out there for everyone, I promise. And that person will love and appreciate you despite of food complications. It’s just food, right? It’s such a small part of love :)

  1. Preach on sister! I had the same problem – gluten, wheat AND dairy free?! It can be near impossible! I feel bad “inflicting” my diet on friends and family, never mind on a potential boyfriend. But somehow I got sooo lucky with my boyf – he’s brilliant! He’s not gone gluten/dairy free – that’s too much to ask!!! But he always reads foods labels in the supermarket to see if it will poison me or not. He’s happy to go to the same ” safe” restaurants time and again. He’s very patient with me when I complain that “I feel sick”. Men like him do exist! It’s just a case of finding them!

    • That’s awesome! Comments like yours do inspire others to realize that people can adapt to these diets and live with someone with a severe food allergy!

  2. There will be people that get it, and people that don’t. I find it’s the first date that always gets a little hijacked because of it, sometimes. This is something I’m still working on. I’m all for educating people about Celiac Disease, and I understand that people get curious about things they don’t know…and yes, I know, that IS a good thing. But sometimes it feels like the whole first date turns into me giving a seminar. It doesn’t help that I’m still so sick, because I have to explain that, too, and things become more difficult because I have to watch how late I stay up, etc. I like making jokes about it, but sometimes have found that these jokes lead to pity, which isn’t my intention. I never want to assume the guy will pick up the check, and with not being able to work, I have to make sure I can afford it. I just can’t contribute the way I used to in relationships, so I guess I’m still finding my way. And god forbid my brain fog memory lapses come off as insincerity! I want someone I can be myself around and not have to always put on the brave face, but that’s not something that comes immediately, so it can just be tiring and a lot of brave faces for people that aren’t worth it on that journey to someone who is. I miss the people who knew me when I was healthier and more “fun”.

    I haven’t given up hope, I guess I’m just wanting to say thank you for this post. I wanted to point out a few more difficulties that maybe others are having, too. I know the good ones are out there, but gluten-free and illness can definitely make one shy away from the process a little bit!

    • We were out with good friends last week talking about my health (I know…boring) and Mrs. Dude sadly said “This is not the guy I married.”.

      Eff you celiac…

        • Ooof – yeah, that’s a statement I kept telling myself over and over again. But, then I found someone. And like everyone will tell you about dating, it happens when you least expect it with a person you probably don’t expect either. And it will be magic! You’re amazing, and you demand that magic – everyone does (regardless of terrible cookies and lack of restaurant choices).

      • In the past three days I’ve been nauseated twice after eating Glutino’s gluten-free pretzels. The reaction is almost immediate. Pretty soon I’ll be reduced to grazing in the yard. It has gotten where most of the processed gluten-free snack foods make me feel icky (that’s a technical term).

      • comment from Gluten Dude

        “We were out with good friends last week talking about my health (I know…boring) and Mrs. Dude sadly said “This is not the guy I married.”.
        Eff you celiac…”

        Unfortunately every time we eat out with someone unfamiliar, celiac ends up being the topic du jour…a good friend just occasionally asks me how the “silly-ass” is going….

    • Hi,
      Thank you for what you wrote. I just got off the phone an hour ago with my wonderful, amazing, loving son was diagnosed with Celiac a year ago after years of struggling with his symptoms and health. We talked about exactly what this article and your response is about, (which is why I went searching the internet and found it).
      He wants so much to find someone and have a family someday but you hit the nail on the head with his dating dilemma.
      I have no idea where you are or how old you are, but if you are anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area and in the 25-35 age range there is a great guy looking for a great girl.
      Susannah

  3. So very cool of you to share your journey in dating. I’m sure many single people with Celiac (or any other food allergy) feel like such a burden. I know I am blessed beyond words to have my supportive husband, who your boyfriend sounds just like. :) Don’t give up people…your health is worth it and you not only want, but NEED someone who’s going to support you. :) Great post!

    • Thank you! I really didn’t feel “worth it” before, and I’m glad I finally found someone that makes me feel like he’s getting everything he wants even though he’s faced with this challenge. I’m so lucky!

  4. As you know, last month I wrote about this as well. It can be challenging for sure but my belief system has always been that if someone wants to be with you they will no matter what the circumstances are. It isn’t easy and I’ve been told by a lot of people that they will actually hide their food allergies because they feel it would be a deal breaker. However, I do believe it would be easier across the board to date someone that did have the same allergies because of potential cross-contamination in homes etc.

  5. Just so you know, Gluten Dude, I just watched that video and lost it – there are tears rolling down my face right now. I am SUCH a sucker for love, especially since I didn’t believe in it for 20-some years :) You got me!

    • I can’t take credit for it, but it is an awesome video. Not that it made me tear up or anything (sniff…sniff) I swear.

  6. So funny you all are saying dating site as it’s part of my business plan but I’m not sure if just GF is enough. I think it would have too be including all choices, vegan etc.

  7. SO I’ve started this gluten free battle last year. When i shared that i eat gluten free with someone i was supposed to go out on date with, he said what if he finds someone better than me, There it goes- an indicator of him not being the one.

    It hurt but i keep marching forward.
    Thank you for this post. Really appreciate it.

    • You deserve better than that! Good for you for moving onto someone who will love you for you and your terrible cookies. I think I’m going to copyright that phrase or something :)

  8. Hey Dude, Why don’t you set up a GF dating service? I looked for one and not seen any yet. And better yet have it free like plenty of fish dot com where we can message back and forth. But to chat we pay!

  9. Sorry, but I just have to say I love how cookies can be an emergency!
    I miss being able to have those emergencies myself, but I fully understand and don’t blame him a bit.

  10. ugh i so know the feeling!! I once went out with a guy that didnt care at all and told me to “just eat a salad for gods sake” hahaa..one and only date. my hubby was fabulous though..didnt give up beer but always is very considerate and when we started dating he called ahead and asked to talk to the chef directly once we arrived at restaurants..he was even comfortable leaving a place that he felt didnt know as much as they said they did..(it was his fav restaurant). we had to concur the mixing of our families as well..my 2 children are very cautious as they were raised with it and had seen me sick..his 2 kids had a hard time adjusting to “gluten free” rules..but we stay on them like crazy and it works out well:0)

  11. Great post Erica & thanks for sharing it Gluten Dude! There really are some wonderful significant others out there. My husband stuck by my through almost 7 years of dating with lots of medical and food issues – I went gluten free just months before we got engaged and he’s been a prince. The night we got engaged, he had planned out a safe gluten free dinner at a restaurant – called ahead to work out with the chef what was safe – they even had a special menu and table waiting for us when we arrived. The good ones are out there!

    • I don’t mind you adding your site on my blog if you feel it can help people. But if you’re going to use my blog to pimp your site, at least offer something of substance on mine.

      That’s not asking too much…

  12. I just wanted to say that MY cat has to be gluten free because she has some sort of grain allergy/sensitivity that makes her skin fall off badly. I get her BG (Before Grain) food from Petco, or Nature’s Path Green Pea and Duck (she can’t have chicken).

  13. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  14. I just need to share…your story made me smile bc my hubby was the same. I got diagnosed 6 months into our relationship…6 months after sharing beer and wings watching the game together..when we found out I had celiac I have him the out-told him it would be hard and he didn’t need to deal with it…his reply? He looked at me like I had 10 heads and told me we were in it together..he is amazing…3 1/2 yrs later we are married and he is sometimes more cautious then I am! He will ask 500 questions when we go out and stop me sometimes to make sure I checked something when I become too trusting..
    He is 100% supportive!

    See there are good guys out there…they may be harder to find but when they do…they are the true epitome if Prince Charming!! Good luck!

  15. yes.. good for you.. as a woman is pretty there is always a guy which would take a care of her.. protect her.. and her celiatic disease is not a problem for him..

    but imagine that you are not woman but a man as me – which healthy girl with even bother with a man who is having this problems? There are another 90 men which are ok what means:

    1. Our life will be much more easier
    2. much more lower expenses for foods
    3. OUR kids will have a chance to NOT having this disease..

    I think that you see my point.. this is worst than a cancer for a men..

    options?

    1. ear so much money that lady will just overlook this disease
    2. find a girl with this disease
    3. kill yourself and hope that there will be next life

    .. any other options?

    thanks!!!

    • killme, please don’t be like that!

      If a person truly cares about another, they will change their ways to accommodate the other.

      This goes for a lot more people than just those who are gluten free. Drinkers, messy people, religious/non-religious people, even sports fans all learn this in relationships. When you find someone who wants you to be the best you can be, they will change their habits because they want to. Not because you make them, because they want you as your best self. It takes some time and a lot of patience but I have realized this and love to share it with others.

      Sure, it may be more expensive and create a need to be more creative with how your nourish your body, but it is 100% worth it. It is more difficult to have a gluten free lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean for a second that you should quit because of it. As for passing along the disease, you have no control over that and there is no sense worrying about it now.

      To end, here’s a cheesy quote I adore: “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

      You can do it!! It’s going to be hard and I know how much it sucks having to be constantly on the lookout for sneaky glutens but I would rather be happy and healthy any day of the week.

      Good luck on your journey!

      B

  16. Thank you Erica and Glutendude for this amazing post. My first date actually happened a week after my Celiac diagnosis, and it definitely wasn’t easy. I stayed glued to my phone looking up GF options half the time and still managed to get glutened. Gahhh!

    I’m happy to know that it is possible to find a partner while eating gluten free. I’m about to enter the college dating scene so wish me luck! :)

  17. A nice story with a happy ending.
    I am a male coeliac. I’ve been alone forever.
    I can’t tell a women I have a food allergy. They like to go to nice resturants.
    So what do you do? I remain alone. It is very hard to meet a woman who will accept this health issue.
    Dating is bad news.

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