Being a Bitch Girl with Celiac Disease

girl with celiac

I know what you’re thinking…

“Gluten Dude, unless you somehow “changed teams” over the weekend, how you can possibly know what it’s like to be a girl with celiac disease?”

In response to your wise-beyond-your-years observation, let me introduce you to today’s guest blogger. Her name is Anna and she runs a great blog over at Gluten Free? Gimme Three.

Be sure to check her out.

Anna…take it away.


Being a Bitch Girl with Celiac Disease

When I was thinking about what to write about for this guest post, I thought, “What better topic to write about on Gluten Dude’s blog than Gluten Non-Dudes? (aka women)?” I loved the post written by Dude’s wife, and I thought that I’d bring a bit more of a woman’s perspective to the Dude-o-sphere 🙂

This post is about something I think a lot about. I wouldn’t say that I worry about it, per se, but it’s something that pops into my mind a lot when I’m out in social situations as a celiac.

Namely – Do people think that I’m a bitch because I’m gluten free?

While all celiacs have similar challenges to navigate when eating out or dealing with the disease, to be honest, I think that celiac men have it easier. I don’t think that people question why they’re eating the way they are – because it’s a given that if they could eat normally, they would be.

For women with Celiac Disease, I think people are quicker to judge – women can be more easily mistaken as eating gluten free as a way to lose weight, or as a way to be trendy/healthy.

I feel like the reaction to men who have Celiacs is one of sympathy: “Dude. That blows. Can you still eat steak?”

The reaction to women with Celiacs is more like: “Really? Come on. Eat a sandwich and quit being so picky.” Followed by an eye roll and some reference to the latest celebrity eating gluten free.

That might sound ridiculous to some people, but I think there’s a bit of truth to my theory, so stick with me.

These are the top three reasons I think celiac women can come off as bitches, based on my own experience:

1. People think that I’m not eating because I’m dieting. (The Skinny Bitch)

Picture this scenario: I’m out at a bar with a group of people I just met, and someone goes, “We should order food!” There is nothing gluten free on the menu, so I just let everyone order and figure I’ll get something to eat later. Food arrives at the table and everyone starts to dig in – all the other girls are chowing down on sliders, getting their hands dirty with wings, and gabbing about how good the mozzarella sticks are. =

I just sit there sipping my drink and hope that no one notices I’m not eating. Someone holds a plate up and says “Ohmygod, you have to try these breadsticks.” I say something to the effect of “No thanks! I’m good,” and hope they drop it.

And then I become the skinny bitch who hates food, and fun, and thinks she’s better than the breadsticks.

I think it makes it worse if you’re thin too because (in my head at least), people think that I’m not eating because I’m dieting, or because I’m too good for the bar-fare food, or because I’m picky.

And judging by the looks I get sometimes, I think that my theory is valid.

2. People think that it is a choice for me to eat gluten free. (The Trendy Bitch)

I get this one a lot. Because the greatest amount of exposure that the general public gets to gluten free eating is through celebrities going gluten free (Thanks, Miley and Kim. Not.), people think that I just made a conscious choice to give up gluten. Like joining Weight Watchers, or going vegan, or jumping on a trendy bandwagon to seem cool.

Most people also seem to assume that I just recently became gluten free (?). Because gluten is just becoming a household word, and seen as a trendy dieting technique, I don’t think that a lot of people understand that the disease was actually discovered in 1887. People have been living without gluten for a long time to fight the effects of Celiac Disease. No celiac that I know just woke up one day and thought, “Hey, I think I’ll go gluten free today!”

Most suffer for years without a diagnosis – it is not a choice.

When I tell people that I’ve been gluten free for six years now they seem to be surprised, but also take it more seriously.

3. People think that I’m uptight. (The Stuck Up Bitch)

Believe you me, I’d love to be the girl who can go to the bar or a restaurant and order a beer instead of a glass of wine. I’d love to not have to check the label on everything I eat. I’d love to be able to eat cupcakes at office birthday parties or bagels at morning meetings. I’d love to be able to order delivery pizza, or grab Chinese take-out when I don’t feel like cooking.

But I’m not. I have to calculate and evaluate everything that I eat. And sometimes that can take extra time. And sometimes that means I’m going to have to be “that girl” eating salad at a burger place.

Am I being overly cynical in my view on how celiac women are viewed by the general public? Possibly.

With more awareness-raising on the serious effects of Celiac Disease, I hope that there will be more people who have an accurate understanding of what it means to live with the disease.

Until then I’ll just deal with being a “bitch” sometimes. Hopefully my charming personality will help those haters out there get over my gluten-freeness.

Anyone else think that men and women with Celiac Disease are viewed differently? Are women judged more harshly for eating gluten free?

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87 thoughts on “Being a Bitch Girl with Celiac Disease”

  1. Miss Dee Meanor

    I would like to add “The Psycho Bitch” – You know..the one whose friends and family determine she has an eating disorder because she has lost 20 lbs and only weighed 100 lbs to begin with. It doesn’t help when it is sometimes difficult to call their names due to “brain fog”. I’m surprised I was never ushered into a hotel suite to meet Jeff VanVonderen or Candy Finnegan for an “Intervention”. Maybe next season.

    1. This is another popular one 🙂 Yes you must be nuts! Brain fog does not exist…. this is not possible. That is some of the nasty stuff that has been shoveled at me, and I am far too familiar with the feeling of being in a room full of people that you know, and wishing that everyone was wearing name tags because you just cannot remember their names….. and I am talking about people that you know fairly well…..

      1. I’m glad I’m not alone in that sometimes I just can’t remember a name or a word is on the tip of my tongue but I can’t think of it. This bothers me so much more than what others think of my food choices. I’m way too young to be having these “senior moments” so I come off as stupid or uncaring to those whose names I forget. (Yes, I know we’ve worked with each other for three years… but today I can’t remember your name.)

        1. Miss Dee Meanor

          It’s become so common with me in public situations away from work that my husband and I have developed a system. If someone stops to chat he will quickly extend his hand and introduce himself. This saves me the awkwardness of not doing an introduction because I have no clue what their name or names are. Grocery stores have a particularly high amount of people who can remember my name, but I can’t remember theirs for the life of me.

    2. Miss Dee… you are SO right!! My friends (many of them Ex-friends now) thought I was creating drama/ being anorexic b/c I couldn’t recall things, I would get super tired, and I ran to the bathroom after every meal. Can I blame them? No. But, it really bites my butt. Even after DX, I still have that same shadow over me because I won’t eat random items that are out at parties, I don’t like to go to restaurants (mine field waiting to be tripped!), I don’t drink beer, I don’t drink the mixed drinks unless a trusty companion made it and checked all labels.

      Thanks for bringing the anorxic bitch title up. I am truly frustrated at that scenario. Actually, I am frustrated with the whole celiac thing. But, I guess when life throws you lemons, you might as well sqeeze them on the fish since you can’t have the breaded fish!

  2. You bet they are! You describe my experience well, and I am so tired of trying to explain to people who just will not listen and still wave the breadsticks in front of my face. (Knowing full well that I used to love them)
    I equate it to people who, if for whatever reason you are not drinking alcohol keep trying to shove a drink down your throat and will not back off.
    Do I want them to stop eating these things in front of me? Not at all, I just feel that having them try to make me join in after they are full well informed that joining in will make me extremely ill is rather thoughtless, and just nasty.
    Some people just like to undermine others – and in my opinion it should make no difference why you are gluten free, illness, choice, whatever, your needs should be respected.
    Offering whatever it is, well that is just polite, but if turned down you don’t push.That’s just good manners, especially if someone knows there is an issue.

  3. Yep…get the you’re a food snob or you’re doing it because it’s the new thing or you’re not really sick….I’ve even gotten the you’re going through PMS -___-

    Weird mean folks. We just have to continue educating and hope one day they understand.

  4. So far I have not gotten the stuff you’ve described but my friends sometimes forget. Mostly they are completely supportive and ask tons of questions about how I found out, does it suck (yes, it totally does), and isn’t wheat in everything (yep, pretty much). I was at a bbq grad party for my daughter’s friend the other day and almost everything they served was gluten free. It was wonderful to pig out with everyone else! They had asked me before hand what I needed so I could eat. While I said don’t worry about me, they did. That’s how most of them are. However, the bitch in me comes out at the grocery store. The people at King Soopers are becoming ever more wary of the crazy celiac woman who complains when they drop a GF product because I have to go to ANOTHER store just to make dinner! I hate the smell of Vitamin Cottage, Sunflower Market is nice, Sprouts and Wild Oats are too far! Frankly, I hate having to go to 3 or 4 stores to go grocery shopping!

  5. oh i feel the exact same way! like people will think im stuck up, or just trying to be a skinny bitch. but really, when they offer me that doughnut, they dont know how badly i want it.

  6. So. True. Loved this post, definitely sharing it. My favorite bit was the part about being too good for the breadsticks. Man, there are days that I would punch babies to be able to eat some greasy bar mozzerella cheese sticks.

    1. Laughed out loud at “punch babies” haha. Maybe I’ll use that next time someone gives me ‘tude for not eating: “Believe me, honey – I would punch a baby if it meant I could eat that breadstick.”

      1. Ditto on laughing out loud to the “punch babies” part. That was hilarious. So sad – but yet SO TRUE for so many of us. But, people simply just do not understand unless they are in your shoes.

  7. This was definitely a great post. I get the other side too because I am over weight and starting to lose now that my diet is fixed, people always assume that I am dieting or just trying to not be big. You should see the looks when I order a salad with a skinny friend of mine, it’s like I’m pretending before I buy that baker’s dozen of donuts to enjoy in my car alone later.
    One woman at a place I frequent often said I should get tested for something with the way I eat my food… of course I responded, that’s why I eat this way! I’m not sure what it’s like for a guy, but I can say as someone who would eat food that I didn’t order and never complained, it feels weird to now have to be super picky and demanding. I’m learning to not feel guilty and ask for what I need because my health is important. Thanks for posting Anna. This was great!

  8. My Husband was just diagnosed with Celiac 2 weeks ago and everyone that I have told that he can’t eat gluten are like oh thats no big deal. I’d like for them to be in my shoes and try to grocery shop! Everyone does think its a trendy thing. We’ve only been dealing with this for few weeks and I wish people would just realize that this is a serious disease not some “trend”.

    1. The Gluten Dude

      Sorry to hear about your husband Frankie. It’s a great community here and you will learn a lot. Hang in there. It gets easier…I promise. Not easy…but easier.

  9. Anna, this is spot on!! I hate feeling like everyone is constantly judging me for food I eat and don’t eat. It’s especially annoying because we gnerally have to eat (at least) three times a day, so it comes up all the time!

    Just last week a group of colleagues asked me to go to lunch at a southern-style restaurant (read: friend chicken, gravy, etc.). I wanted to go with them to be social, so I brought my gluten free sandwich with me. I bought a drink at the restaurant and quietly asked someone working if they would mind if I ate my own sandwich since I had severe food allergies. The waitress said that would be fine, but my colleagues wouldn’t let it go. They started the “can you eat game.” I’m sure you’ve all sat through that: “well, can you eat the collard greens?” (I don’t know!! But would you want to eat a plate of collard greens for lunch?!) “can you eat the chicken if you just pull off the breading?” (no, no, no!) “can you eat the white bread, instead of the wheat bread?” (oh boy, should I really start my standard lecture on what gluten is?) Ugh!! Suddenly my lunch choice dominated the entire conversation and I had to sit there convincing everyone that I wasn’t willing to take contamination risks at the restaurant, that my sandwich was quite good, that the restaurant was ok with my eating my sandwich, that I just wanted to come along to be social and get out of the office for a bit. It can be so, so, so annoying!

    Guten Dude and other male celiacs, do you get bombarded with similar questioning on your food choices? Do people constantly analyze what you’re eating? I’m curious if there really is a difference or not?

    1. The Gluten Dude

      Speaking for myself, I don’t get analyzed, but I’m also not around a lot of people who don’t know me. I work for myself and from my home office, so there are no office parties or lunches with colleagues.

      But if people questioned me like you describe above, I think it would eventually lead to fistacuffs.

    2. Oh the “can you eat” game – every celiac’s favorite! 😉 I’ve had way too many meals where conversation is revolving around what I am or am not eating and it’s exhausting! Can we just talk about something else and enjoy our gluten-filled or gluten-free food in peace?!

      1. This is totally my life it seems. Once upon a time I would go out with friends and we would talk about sports, books, movies, and life…and now, it’s “wow…what can you eat”. I am a foodie through and through and having Celiacs hasn’t changed that one bit, if nothing else, it has made me more passionate about food. The other thing I get from people who can eat gluten is “there are so many options out there for gf food now…the other day I thought of you when I saw gf crackers on the shelf”. It boils down to undereducated people and them not knowing how to connect with us anymore.

  10. Oh Anna I love it! I have suffered through the same Celiac Bitch Trifecta and despite the fact that I’m one year in, I still struggle with all of the bitch types you have so perfectly described! It makes me angry and laugh all at the same time.

  11. I’d like to add the neurotic bitch to the mix. I am constantly correcting those around me as to what’s happening inside my body. This makes me sound extremely over anxious to others as they see someone desperately pleading their case rather than defending their their health. When I’m asking the kitchen to use separate utensils at a restaurant, 10 years ago I never would have gotten the stink eye, the manager would be sent over because its obviously an “allergy” of some sort. Now? I hate going out anywhere (sometimes I even hate going out with friends) because I’m always viewed as this neurotic, trendy, psycho, skinny bitch. I’ve lived with Celiac for 15 years and I’m just now feeling this way? Society disgusts me. It reminds me of when I was newly diagnosed in second grade and someone threw my gfree food on the floor and said, “If that’s really all you can eat, then pick it up. Eat it.”

    The rest of them are the bitches if you ask me.

    1. Pamela – your comment breaks my heart! Poor second-grade you! I also spend way too much time trying to overcompensate to not seem neurotic (apologizing for having them make special accommodations, trying to explain that it actually is that serious, etc.). I like your “the rest of them are the bitches” mantra though – lol!

  12. I love it when I confess to an acquaintance that I have celiac disease and they say how many gluten free products they see on the shelves in the store all the time. Lucky me!

  13. This is so right on! I was feeling this way yesterday at a birthday party for my son’s friends. The kids were all eating their cake, and the hostess asked if I would like a piece. She INSISTED, so instead of just politely saying no, I finally told her I literally couldn’t eat it. Most of the time, I would just rather say no instead of bringing up celiac, but I felt like I would be looking like your #1 example if I didn’t tell her why.

    I also wrote about this topic here:

    1. Totally agree, Alysa! I try to avoid bringing up celiacs unless it’s absolutely necessary. A celiac friend of mine says that just saying “I have food allergies” works for him, but people tend to just pry more if I say that I think. And thanks for sharing your post! It’s definitely much easier for you to find peace with/embrace your eating than for others to accept it. Totally relate.

      1. I just love this post!! It is simply a fact that we have to deal with ‘more’ than just focusing on what is gluten-free and what is not once we are diagnosed with Celiac. There is an entire social aspect to this disease as well. Most blogs don’t discuss this part – so I want to genuinely thank both Gluten Dude and Anna for sharing this with us.

        I think we have all ‘been there’ …..the times when someone offers you food and after you politely decline (not wanting to get into yet another gluten-free discussion) they look as though you have just betrayed them. So….. my usual response (since I am offered food all the time at work – that they ‘should’ know by now I can’t eat because I have explained it enough times already) has become…. “You know, I would LOVE to try that……but as you know, I can’t have ANYTHING with wheat in it.”. (As much as I try…. the “common non-Celiac folk” just don’t understand what gluten is.) This at least lets them know that I “would if I could, but I just can’t”……and it has nothing to do with them.

        Part of me also wants them to know how much of a struggle it is to NOT eat that pizza, or donut, or breadstick they are offering. I think some people are so used to the way I eat….they assume I enjoy it. Yes, I’ve learned to live with it…. but every time I have to pass something up – it is still difficult. I just wish the non-Celiac community would “get” that. But, until they do….. it’s been wonderful having a fellow Celiac community that DOES get it. 🙂

  14. There is definitely a difference between the way male & female celiacs are treated. For dudes, yes – “Dude. That blows. Can you still eat steak?” But what I’ve heard most from dudes is “That blows – no beer!”
    From women directed toward women (me) – yeah, all the bitch varieties. And they are the bitches! I really don’t feel like discussing what it means for me to be “sick” an hour after eating when they are no longer around. Lucky them – as if I want someone around when I run to the bathroom with explosive diarrhea. I don’t want to be the center of attention because of my food restrictions. If I say “no thank you”, leave it at that!
    And I am right on board with punching babies for breadsticks, or a good pizza, or a really good doughnut!

    1. ” If I say “no thank you”, leave it at that!” AMEN, Andrea! And I promise, no babies will be harmed in the writing of this blog post 🙂

  15. I’m a medic/physio for the local rugby team and this reminds me of a particular away game. It’s tradition to attend the home team’s clubhouse, where they usually serve up drinks and a meal. For starters, I was the only female. Then I had to go up to the “bar” and ask, “Do you have anything other than beer”. I don’t know what it is, but guys seem to think that girls who don’t/won’t drink beer are “pussies” or “prissy”. No, I don’t want a “bitch pop”, I just don’t want to go to the hospital. So, even worse was that they didn’t have anything other than beer. Most of my team go it, but I felt judged by the other team, for sure. Then came the food. The away team eats first. I sat quietly watching the rugby game on TV hoping that I would go unnoticed, but of course, everyone starts telling me to go eat, to which I decline. So then I’m the skinny bitch who doesn’t drink beer. The best was when my athletes tell me I look like I’m having a miserable time just sitting there, and one asked me to be the DD LOL I guess I didn’t hide my insecurities as well as I’d hoped 😉 I also have been the bitch who brings her own food to the bar, the bitch who doesn’t want to go out and see how many hot dogs you can stuff in your face, and the bitch who makes you wash your hands and brush your teeth before you touch me. All hail the Celiac bitch 😉

    1. “I don’t know what it is, but guys seem to think that girls who don’t/won’t drink beer are “pussies” or “prissy”.” – Sad but SO true! Not drinking beer at a sporting event in the company of men is like you’re breaking the eleventh commandment or something. Usually if a guy starts giving me sh*t for not drinking beer, I’ll order something even more manly, like bourbon or a gin martini, and that usually shuts him up (although, obviously can’t do that when the bar only has beer! Grr!). Hail!

    2. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

      Eh, I go from being the “Chick who doesn’t like beer (and never has)” to “oooh, the chick who drinks hard liquor!”. . . though I just don’t drink that often for it to even matter. Most of the athletic people we hang out with don’t care/judge what another does.. . . hanging out with office people is COMPLETELY different.

  16. How about the Party Pooper Bitch? 🙂

    At the last place I worked, every birthday, there was cake. Everyone came out of their offices (no cubes for us!) and had cake around the reception area. Of course, I couldn’t. But rock and a hard place. If I stayed in the office, I was too stuck up to socialize. If I came out and didn’t eat, I was questioned about it like I was personally telling the woman who brought the cakes that they sucked, told to stop dieting, *praised* for dieting (seriously?!), or just plain uncomfortable.

    So… I explained it every damn time. And then my birthday came. And no one brought anything for me. So the next day, I made a gluten-free cake and brought it in for everyone. No one would try it. Seriously. If it wasn’t from a bakery, they weren’t eating it. And, to make things worse, the woman who did the organizing was sooooo mad at me for doing it, all birthdays were cancelled after that.

    Then the big boss came in and asked what was happening with the birthdays (I could hear from my office). The organizer said, “Seems we can’t please everyone. Some people refuse to participate. I don’t know why she can’t just have a small piece. Jeez.” This, after I explained in all sorts of TMI detail (after being questioned too much, and trying to deflect questions, I just go whole hog on the details. People tend not to ask again).

    So. I quit a few months later. Birthday parties started up again THAT WEEK.


      1. I quit for entirely different reasons, but I’m glad too. 🙂 I get to be a stay at home mom for my kids, and that’s pretty awesome.

    1. It’s not unbelievable, this happens ALL THE TIME and you are not alone!!!! I am so sorry this happened to you. This injustice curdles my blood. People can be so cruel.

      1. Thanks! I’m not the kind of person who really lets this shit get to me. I found it more exasperating than a real piss off, if you know what I mean.

        And now I’m vegan too (well, except free range, local farm eggs). I’m the trendy bitch all over the place. 🙂

        1. Oh my gosh I’m considering becoming vegan. I’m lactose, gluten and beef free so why not all meat? It almost seems easier. I was telling some friends over the weekend I feel like a hippy and was thinking of investing in hemp or something. 🙂

    2. The Gluten Dude

      Just a horrible story, a horrible company and a really, really horrible person. Glad you’re not there still. Ef them.

    3. Boo on them! What a toxic office culture – glad you’re out! And I also get “praised” all the time by coworkers for not eating the birthday treats. It’s not willpower – it’s not an option at all, period!

      1. I know EXACTLY what Luna is talking about. My office had monthly birthday parties as well and for 45 people they brought a TON of food…. all of course gluten-filled. We’re talking burritos, casseroles, donuts, pastries, pie, cheesecake, cookies, and of course, birthday cake….. basically anything & everything that I couldn’t eat. You were admonished if you stayed back in your office working (God forbid!) and if you stood there and didn’t eat – I was assumed to be dieting. When I first started working there, i was still really skinny from being first diagnosed – so, they would look at me like “why on earth is SHE dieting??”. Then, when I finally gained weight back and felt healthy again, it was “oh, GOOD for her for trying to lose weight!!.” Ugh. Not to mention…..OMG, the incredible willpower I must have.

        So… I love Anna’s line, “It’s not willpower – it’s not an option at all, period!” I feel like putting that on a T-shirt!! 🙂

        1. Miss Dee Meanor

          That would really be horrible if the workplace treated you that way. I’ve been really luckier at work than with family and friends. A couple of years ago our staff devlopment day was held at a conference center that provided lunch and had strict rules that no outside food could be brought in. One of our staff on the planning committee (from a different location that I work) went to the extra effort to meet with the center’s administration and arrange it so that I could bring in my lunch. I never asked. My branch manager mentioned it to the committee chair and she took it from there.

          My co-workers have always made every attempt to not only understand the restrictions of my diet, but work around it if possible. When we’ve had restaurant lunches after meetings they ALWAYS give me the opportunity of picking the restaurant even though I usually tell them to choose wherever the majority wants to go and I can find something. I agree with those who feel the social aspect is the hardest.

          1. And I think it’s even more difficult when it’s with coworkers over friends/family because you feel like you can’t be completely honest. You want to seem like a team player and keep your professionalism, so you sometimes can end up “sucking it up” or compromising when you otherwise wouldn’t. Glad that your coworkers are so great!

            1. Anna, you are completely correct….. when I was just a “newbie” 10 years ago – I started a brand new job and in the most ‘professional’ manner possible I had to let them know that I brought my own food (and at the time was having some weird blood glucose issues….and needed to eat something at least once an hour). They were understanding, but still thought I was ‘odd’ for such a request. Finally, my boss sat me down one day and said that I “had” to start going out to lunch with them because they talk “business” over lunch and I needed to be involved. I tried to explain how it was really risky for me….and at the time there were no restaurants that I knew of that had a “gluten-free” menu. I finally agreed to go with them, but couldn’t find anything I could eat. They didn’t understand why I just couldn’t “pick something” and I was so nervous – being the youngest among the executive management team. I was so new to the job …and as Anna pointed out….I wanted to still appear to be as professional as possible – so, I just picked something. And….guess what – I got sick. I am happy to say I have come a long way since that point and have learned to be assertive with what I can and cannot eat. I am also more comfortable talking about it…. since it’s basically a necessity of our disease. But, I feel bad for those other “newbies” out there that may feel exactly the same way. What I have also found that helps is to find at least one co-worker who completely understands – so, you have someone to back you up when you are questioned and/or feel pressured to compromise.

          2. Dee, I am happy to hear that you have had some great experiences at work. I do have a few co-workers who take the time to understand my diet (and one who would occasionally go out of her way to pick me up a gluten-free muffin) – but those people are hard to find. I switched jobs recently (same Department, different Division) and I have been attending a lot more out of town conferences. This has brought up a whole new ‘worry’ for me. The first conference was amazing – even had a list of the ingredients in everything on the buffet table and had an (*) next to everything that was gluten-free. It was incredible. But, the very next conference I was unable to eat anything except for a few bits of fruit in the mornings. The meals were “paid for” – but since I couldn’t eat anything, I had to go pay an extra $12 out of pocket at Baja Fresh (the only option available nearby) for lunch and dinner for 3 days straight. (Breakfast was just cereal bars I had brought with me.) So…..we do what we have to – and I always arm myself with a ton of ‘snacks’ just in case. But, when you come across something like this where there are thousands of people from all over the U.S. in attendance and the conference organizers still don’t provide possibilities for all types of food allergies, etc…. it’s very disheartening and makes me feel like I’ve taken a few steps back again – to what it felt like when I was first diagnosed and Celiac was still largely a rare and unknown disease.

    4. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

      I would have walked out and told the BOSS Man, but then again, I would have hoped he knew already. I can’t stand hissy fits of people who have to have THEIR way in the work place when they aren’t the higher ups. . . really, the woman who just LOVES to bake can’t accept that someone else can’t eat her food?

      Everyone at work loves my MAGIC BROWNIES> ooh, they’re so great. “yeah, they come from a box’

      what kind?

      ‘they’re in the health food section at the store”

      ohhh, so they’re healthy? this is GREAT!

      ‘uh, not really, there’s a stick of butter in them’.

      O__O why are they in the health food section then?

      ’cause they’re good for people with food allergies (which is simplest put for smart people who can’t comprehend food issues).’

      One of the bosses refuses to eat htem any more as they’re “GLUTEN FREE and anything GF sucks”. . (though he loved eating them before)

      me (thinking only, never saying) huh, and here I thought ingesting gluten with celiac causes problems whether they’re visual or not.

      I so LOVE my hubby who won’t let me eat gluten and

      1. The Gluten Dude

        I used to eat “magic brownies” in my youth…but I don’t think we’re talking about the same kind 😉

        1. “Magic brownies”…a friend suggested that I start a line of “magic” gluten free baked goods. Now there’s a niche market!

  17. Anna, thank you for writing this article. These are the types of discriminatory injustices that America is supposed to abolish with equal rights. Obviously, the world isn’t happy-go-lucky or remotely fair, but it’s very clear the government should be stepping in with some damn laws by now. Labeling laws help prove it’s more than a fucking choice to live with Celiac Disease. Please excuse the language, I’m just so fed up! (As are all us Celiac Avengers fighting to eat freely in a corrupt world).

    So again, THANK YOU! (It’s also extremely important for those diagnosed to feel less alienated, and you are have brought light to an issue most of us deal with!)

  18. Wow, I’m so sorry you’ve all had to go through this, people can be so cruel! I guess I was lucky in that where I worked, when I was first diagnosed, I wasn’t the only one there who had celiacs, and she had already educated people enough that when pizza parties came up, the two of us were allowed to pick out whatever we wanted to eat in the store that was gluten free. While we didn’t have a big selection of things at that time, it did allow me to try some of the pricier things that we did carry.

  19. I’ve never been so grateful to work at home. Jeez, people! These are some awful stories.

    I was only recently diagnosed with Celiac, but last week at a food blogging conference anytime people found out I was gluten-free they totally assumed it was by choice. I had one blogger say to me, “Oh, I have friends who are gluten-free but they’re really gluten-free because they’re Celiacs.” I was like, “Ummm, yeah me too.”

    It’s fascinating that people just assume you’re trendy, rather than actually ill. Whatevs. Pass the gluten-free nachos, and you can think whatever you want.

  20. Very well put! I tend to fit in the perceived stuck up bitch category among the people I know. Or, better yet, the freak of nature category. People and their opinions! It really should be “I care enough about my body to care what I put in it”. We are what we eat.

  21. I totally id with the stuck up bitch. I’m the one who always has to ask about the content of the food, be it for wheat allergies, gluten allergies, and diabetes. I’m the one who always has to be a big deal to the server and I feel bad for how much I have to annoy them.

    I was just reading this morning in Crains Chicago Business how non-drinkers have to go through this too, so I don’t feel as bad about it.

    In the comments, I made this statement: “alcohol and food are social handcuffs. People feel when you don’t drink or can’t eat their cookies that you are personally offending them, because its like you are refusing their culture or “hospitality”. It shouldn’t matter to people if we’re eating, not-eating, or eating differently than others, and yet…we are the stuck up bitches of the world.

    That being said, I feel we have developed a resiliency that people w/o celiac or allergies don’t have. I have a problem with something? I take care of it, calmly and assertively. You make my dinner wrong? I’m sure as heck going to talk to the manager and get it remade. Not just bread roll removed (as in one local instance). Friends w/o celiac come unglued and get nowhere, where I have the problem solved within minutes. Need to vet a restaurant to see if its ok for eating at? I’m the one who goes in, says hey to the manager, and boldly inspects the kitchen to see if its safe for my celiac/gluten allergic, dairy free, soy free, and egg free friends. Should we have had to develop this resiliency? Heck no, but I’m dang glad I have!

  22. For me dating is so difficult. I am 36, single and get asked out pretty often. I generally decline because it is so embarrassing to say I can’t go out to eat, can’t go to their house and have them cook for me and I certainly am not inviting anyone to my house so I can cook for the date..I hate cooking in the first place. Men find it flakey and their friends think you are picky. So I just keep my Nasty Bars (think thin bars) in my purse and eat those. It’s no fun to be single and celiac.

  23. I tend to find myself as the “Too Careful Bitch”. I work in a very small office (less than 10 people) and one of my co-workers has Celiac. I have a wheat allergy. This sounds like it might be a good thing, making people aware of people who eat gluten-free, etc. But she “cheats” frequently. I don’t. So whenever we have a pot-luck luncheon, or worse, a birthday celebration with cheesecake (can’t you just eat around the crust?!?) and I sit there with the one thing that I brought and nothing else, everyone questions me on why she can eat it but I can’t. I generally fall back on the answer of – “Oh, I am just being extra careful right now”. But I definitely get eye rolls.

    1. That’s a tough situation, Mandy! I hate the concept of “cheating” because it makes it seem like it’s an actual decision and also undermines your dedication to your health and gluten free diet. Maybe just say something like “I have to eat this way or I’ll get sick. The long-term consequences of eating wheat are pretty serious”. Good luck!

    2. That cheating celiac is killing herself. Next time, when someone says “have a little, it won’t hurt you!” , you could say out loud, so celiac girl hears you—“No thanks, gluten is like rat poison to someone with a wheat allergy or celiac. Is a little bit of rat poison okay?”

      or not. No one likes the “Gluten Police”. (see my post below)

      (but seriously, she is not doing herself any favors and she obviously
      does not understand the mechanism of celiac at all. It’s a shame.)

  24. I do the same thing — the going along to get along and figuring that I’ll get something to eat later. The worst part is when someone suggests that I should have a salad. My reaction is always the same — they’re pigging out on stuff that looks pretty tasty and I should have salad? When people question whether my eating habits are medically necessary, I now go into a long litany of what happens in the bathroom post-gluten. I figure, they asked for it!

  25. Miss Dee Meanor

    I may be in the minority here, but I never take offense when someone asks me questions regarding what I can eat and what I can’t eat.How else are they to learn? I didn’t know what to eat when I first had to go gluten-free and probably asked the same questions. It also allows me to bring up the dangers of cross-contamination in a kitchen instead of placing me in the awkward position of having to decline that “gluten-free” cake or brownie they made just for me. The things I most take offense to is when others assume that it’s not a big deal, it’s all in my head, I’m trying to be a drama queen,and/ or that “one bite can’t hurt you.” 🙂

  26. Great guest blog!! I like your take on this topic. I have to say, I never thought that I was treated differently because I am a woman with celiac, I just felt I was viewed differently because maybe “they feel sorry for me”. I do not know why. I eat really well.

    I have a different spin on it, but I’d like to add being thought of as the “Gluten-Nazi Bitch”

    I can rattle off foods and ingredients I know are not something I can have and I am also someone who cannot use anything from a “shared facility” so when talking with someone who is still learning the ropes of this disease/diet and they ask me “is this okay?”, I say NO! a lot. I have thrown foods out of someone’s fridge on a gluten-hunt and slapped it out of a hand. I dumped someone’s Russel Stover candies in the bucket. Hey, she asked for my help! I sniffed it out. I’m like a dig with a bone.
    What can I say?:)

    so, I was called a Gluten Nazi Bitch.

    She was kidding…..I think…..

  27. Wow some of things I’m reading are crazy ! I feel you can’t please people , some people want to control everything and when you say you can’t they lose their minds ! Lol , I go thru it everyday, but I learned to commit to my health 100% screw them if they can’t get it !

    1. “I learned to commit to my health 100% screw them if they
      can’t get it !”

      YOU GO, GIRL! 🙂

      That’s how it has to be.
      Whose business is it what we eat anyway?.
      The crap they are eating is going to clog their arteries and cause diabetes and obesity anyway.

      As much as we hate the inconvenience of a GF diet, it’s healthier
      to eat fresh fruit, veggies, meats, fish, nuts and eggs, homemade breads and muffins.

      I have never paid so much attention to my body in my life. But it had to break down and become a screaming mess from gluten and celiac before I “got it”.

  28. how about Know-it-all Bitch? I often find myself lecturing people about Celiac Disease, giving them way too much info that they probably don’t want to know in the first place.

    I haven’t really dealt with a lot of insensitive, inconsiderate people like some of you have. Most people are pretty sympathetic. Many are well-meaning. Occasionally I come across someone who is less than desirable, but a lot of times I think it’s mainly due to ignorance.

    That said, I have felt that doctors have sometimes treated me differently because I’m a woman. I’ve had a couple of male doctors tell me that my problems were mainly psychological, the “it’s all in your head” crap. The worst, however, was a female doctor. She got very angry at me and told me that I was “paranoid” and needed “psychological evaluation.” She was awful and she was a GI at the University of Chicago. I had another GI doctor (female again) who told me that I had “mild Celiac Disease” and that I “might” benefit from the gluten-free diet. Like saying you’re mildly pregnant. She also described our local Celiac support group as being “paranoid.”

    I’m sure that a lot of double standards exist for women with Celiac Disease, but fortunately I haven’t experienced many of them myself. My family is pretty respectful and understanding (although a few of them just.don’

    1. Same here, Rachel

      But I also sought out a WOMAN doctor during my pre-DX horror whose specialty was treating women, so I thought I’d get a more empathetic ear. HA! After telling her my many symptoms, she told me I was just “stressed” and needed anti-depressants.
      When I gave her my long list of symptoms and asked “but what about the intense pain in my bones and muscles and the hair loss and the abdominal pain, etc? ” she said
      “Oh, I can’t solve all your problems. C’mon girlfriend, let’s go. I have more patients. See you in 6 months” and ushered me out the door. I never went back.


      oh well.

      Hey,I am thinking
      Gluten Nazi Bitch
      Know-it- all Bitch are twins.


      1. Wow. She had a lot of nerve to say that. Yes, sometimes the women doctors are worse than the men. I don’t know why they can be so insensitive. I’m sure it’s still very hard to be a woman doctor and to be taken seriously. Perhaps they think that they have to be hard-ass bitches to be taken seriously. I don’t know.
        Yeah, the woman who balled me out was a GI and is well respected at the Univ. of Chicago. I think she was mad because I went to an alternative medicine clinic in a small town and got a lot of bogus tests there that she then felt she had to interpret. But the reason I went to the alternative medicine clinic is that I felt my general doctor in town was blowing me off and saying many of my problems were “psychological.” I was desperate. As it turned out, the alternative medicine clinic just added a lot more anxiety to my situation by doing all these bizarre tests and then convincing me that I was dying. WTF?
        Anyway, the Univ. of Chicago GI was just angry as hell at me that I “dared” go see a quack before seeing her (she doesn’t realize that it can take months sometimes to see her and that Chicago is a 2 1/2 hour drive from where I live). She just scolded me and my mom for long periods of time and as far as I’m concerned, was wasting her own time just balling me out. She said I was being “paranoid” and needed “psychological evaluation.” (as it turned out, I was still very sick ingesting gluten by accident and my antibodies were extremely elevated, although that doc didn’t know at that time and instead just said these shitty things. Nice, eh?) My mom and I were really taken aback by her rudeness. Since then, I found out that other people have complaints about her as well. That was the last time I saw her. I switched to another GI doctor at the University of Chicago who is very warm and patient. This woman is soooo much better than the previous one I saw.
        I’m no longer putting up with doctors who treat me like shit.

        1. “I’m no longer putting up with doctors who treat me like shit”

          you got that right!

          it’s the exact same phrase I said after 3 years of that nonsense.

          Screw that.

    1. What a fantastic article! Thank you for sharing it. I had no idea that Chuck E. Cheese was introducing a GF pizza. Of course, their regular pizza is kinda gross, but I appreciate the effort. 🙂

  29. Anna, I can completely relate To your “Skinny Bitch” comment, (actually, all of them). When I was first diagnosed I weighed 115 LBS and I used to get, “you don’t need to loose weight”, Now I weigh 180 LBS and I get, ” well…there’s healthy choices”. I want to scream!!! I eat 1000 calories a day, 99.9% of my meals are prepared from scratch by myself (mostly grains and produce) I hate it when people see it as a diet issue. I ate like a pig at a 115 lbs, I eat like an infant at 180 lbs. Sometimes I want to choke people, but then I have to remember they don’t get it.

    1. Kara – when I was first diagnosed people also thought that I was doing it to diet. But, six years later I think most understand that this is a permanent thing. I’m guessing that you feel a hell of a lot better at 180 than you did at 115, so let them think what they want – your opinion is the only one that really matters 🙂

  30. I totally get what you’re saying. I was out at a sushi restaurant the other day, and I asked the waitress if the eel and spicy tuna were gluten free. In my experience, they never are, but I always keep up hope that one day I’ll eat a yummy dragon roll again.

    Anyway, she informed me that as long as I steered clear of the imitation crab and tempura, i’d be fine. I was surprised, but happy. She came back a few moments later to take our order, and i asked for tamari. She looks at me and goes, “oh the soy sauce is fine.”

    “what do you mean the soy sauce is fine?”
    “well unless you have like celiac disease you can eat the soy sauce.”

    Um EXCUSE ME? Why do you think I was asking for gluten free in the first place? As it turns out, the eel and spicy tuna weren’t gluten free either (surprise surprise) the waitress just assumed I was being “trendy” or “dieting” and didn’t bother to think I may have had an actual intolerance to gluten.

    1. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

      I can’t figure out why sushi places can’t have REAL crab on hand! One place does, but it costs $2 extra and the reason? They use the canned variety. UGH.

      Though now that I try to avoid soy, I just avoid gluten free soy sauce as well. I get some really strange looks, but have to wonder who was the human who decided to ferment soy beans in order to get a product to put on top of fresh fish and rice?

      so many things about our food system scare me.

      1. The Gluten Dude

        I bring my own sauces to my sushi place as well. And I simply get salmon/avocado rolls every single time.

        1. Yep – I swear that they manage to sneak “crunch” or soy sauce into everything at Asian restaurants so I just keep it simple with tuna or salmon avocado/cucumber. I’m surprised that the waitress even knew what celiac disease is if she was so reckless with the information she gave you. Sometimes I feel like wearing a doctor’s note pinned to my coat when I go out to eat that says “Anna has celiac disease and cannot have any gluten under doctor’s orders” so they take me seriously! lol

          Also this IS the Anna who wrote this post, but thanks for being prudent, Anna #2 😉

        2. I haven’t been able to find a sushi place close to me. Whenever I ask about gluten they never really seem to quite ‘get it’. In addition to imitation crab and soy sauce, you’re supposed to ask about Malt Vinegar in the rice too, right?

  31. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

    I’d like to add the “granola chick” a/k/a healthy bitch 🙂

    I’ve become a food snob. There. I admit it. I can no longer handle the smell of deep fried anything and looking at people chow down on sodium and fat laden foods as if *this* is normal is just sickening to me.

    I know I shouldn’t be judgmental about it: I wonder WHY and WHEN soda pop became such a food necessity that it is paid for with food stamps, and yet I wonder why what I eat and what I choose to ingest is any one else’s business.

    I work in an office with 8 women. Three of them don’t care what I eat, Two of them try to shove food down my throat. they offer, I say POLITELY, ‘no thank you’. ‘but it’s really good.’ I’m sure, but no thank you.

    I generally think People think my being a runner makes memore of a food snob than the fact that I have food reaction issues.

  32. I can relate, however I’m coming up on the anniversary of my first year after diagnosis. I recently confided in my husband that I am happy he has known me for so long because I can’t imagine if we had just met and I had to fear seeming picky in where we eat on a date. On top of that, I can’t eat corn or oats (I get the same Celiac symptoms from both) and if I get even the smallest cross contamination, I feel like crap for about 2 weeks. When my husband and I met, I threw up popcorn in his new car and he hung in there with me knowing I seemingly had a “weak stomach.” However, over the years, more and more symptoms kept popping up. So the diagnosis was as much of a relief for him as it was for me. I admit that I am ashamed to talk about the depth of my disease with strangers, but I am comfortable simply saying I have Celiac, since many people know what that is. Corn is in SO much and it’s not on the labeling list, so I end up shying away from talking about it since most people just respond in a manner that sounds they think I’m overreacting. Even some Celiacs will actually argue with my corn intolerance. I kinda want to eat corn on purpose and video tape myself afterwards just to make a point. Sometimes I’ll joke that I was the kid in their 2nd grade class who threw up after lunch and had corn coming through my nose. “Yep, that was me, nice to see you again after all these years.” It is very nice to feel normal for the first time in my life, so in the end, I really don’t care what anyone thinks.

  33. Once back when I had just started to date my now husband, he introduced me to his best friend at their favorite sandwich shop– of course as a celiac I did not order anything except a bottle of water.

    As we were leaving the shop I heard his best friend say, “Dude, how can you like her? She’s so high maintenance. She doesn’t even eat bread?!”

    The only thing that saved me from running out in tears was my honey’s prompt response, “Don’t be an ass. She’s allergic!”

    (Note: My husband now knows the difference between a celiac autoimmune response and the type of response that an allergy would have.)

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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