Food Allergy Bullying: It's Just Not Funny

food allergy bullying

Two emails I received yesterday regarding the Disney and Chelsea Handler debacles really hit home.

Here’s the first one:

That people howl with laughter at skits portraying pancakes being thrown at someone whining “Gluten! Gluten!” is so deeply disturbing, I find it hard to articulate the depth of it. There’s no humor in this. It’s hatred disguised as a “joke.” Seeing people shriek with delight at the sight of someone perceived to be like me having pancakes thrown at them…why is that funny?? Being hated for having a disease can be as difficult to deal with as the disease itself.

And the second one:

I want to cry right now after having two bullying experiences with my best friend last week, questioning why I am so dramatic because I can’t eat “a few things.” Sometimes it gets too hard to continue to stand up to such constant ignorance. When will it end and we will get the respect we deserve?! I hope people who read these comments are learning from it and go out there and teach people the truth about our medical needs to be gluten free, so that next time I go to a restaurant, they will take my celiac seriously and the bullying will stop! This is coming from a college student who activates on a regular basis. Sometimes it just gets to be too much.

Watch the video above folks.

This is not the “pussification of America” as so many of the ignorant haters are so eloquently stating.

Bullying is a lack of class. It’s a lack of character.

It’s the total lack of empathy for someone who has a condition that people simply cannot comprehend. And instead of educating, it’s easier to ridicule.

This country is not being pussified. It’s becoming morally bankrupt.

Gluten Dude: Your passport to safe gluten-free dining worldwide. Every restaurant vetted.

Discover the joy of safe and easy dining on your travels, with restaurants that prioritize gluten-free safety as much as you do. Enjoy more. Worry less.

Find Gluten-free Restaurants

Thrive with Celiac Disease

Subscribe to the Blog

Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Let's Connect

Topics of Conversation


43 thoughts on “Food Allergy Bullying: It's Just Not Funny”

  1. Sue In Alberta

    Again, it’s abundantly clear why advocating and educating are so very important. Many just aren’t used to people with food allergies and Celiac disease standing up to the negative reactions and if it is perceived as “over reacting”, so be it. We can and will make it safer AND socially acceptable for ourselves and our young.

    So, go ahead -sneer and roll your eyes and MAKE MY DAY!!!!!

  2. I think a big issue, as the Dude has pointed out in the past, is people seeing all these celebrities and people hawking bogus diet books causing people to see gluten-free as a fad diet. They don’t get the fact that if someone with celiac eats a tiny morsel of gluten, they will feel awful for an extened period of time and they are damaging their body and immune system.

    Gotta just keep pushing back!

  3. I concur with JVC. It’s the ignorant fadsters all wide eyed and convinced that eating more refined white flours and starches are the secret path to enlightened feelings of purity, oneness with the universe and loss of flab without effort. Didn’t the Indians have a gluten free diet? Or did the Raliens bring it to earth from their home planet?

    I’ll be so glad when this is no longer an idiotic fad.

  4. You know I hate to say this, but this happens just as much to adults as it does to kids. I am almost 26 years old, and my 40-something year old co-workers are even guilty of food allergy bullying. I remember one time where a co-worker (that I normally trust and am friends with) brought homemade spaghetti with meat sauce and told me “No worries, it’s gluten-free I promise.” I ate a whole bowl at the start of my 12-hour shift…and after I was finished they told me it was regular spaghetti. And then another co-worker told someone else, “Oh great, now she is going to call out of work tonight and use the gluten-thing as an excuse.” I spent the better part of my shift in the bathroom and so weak I could barely continue to work…and I work at a busy med-surg/cancer unit in a city hospital. These were nurses that played this joke on me. NURSES….who know what Celiac Disease is and could care less. It’s pathetic. I don’t get why so many people think food allergies/intolerance are a joke.

      1. Those ‘people’, and I use the term loosely, need to get reported. That is endangerment, a hostile work environment, and those ‘people’ are allegedly health professionals who oversee a patient’s health? Would any Celiac patients be safe in that hospital? Fire every GD one of them, pull their licenses, and put them on the street.

    1. Wow, Heather, that is truly awful. I hope you are’t friends with her anymore-not that you were to begin with. I think she should have faced repercussions from that action.

      That said, I would say never eat gf pasta from a gluten household. Too many strainer cross-contamination issue!

    2. why in the world would you put up with that crap, If someone did that to me, I’d beat them with a lead pipe. Still wouldn’t be equal to what the pain of that much gluten would do. You NEED to report that. That’s the only way those “people” will learn. If they are to small minded to be understanding, then make them understand they will get fired if they do that kind of stuff.

    3. I’d have reported it immediately as harassment or hostile work environment to HR too… My best friend is a nurse and she says most of them are really nasty to their coworkers. I can’t even imagine. ๐Ÿ™

    4. That really sucks Heather, my kid gets bullied like that every day. One time, her teachers had a student potluck, and one girl gave my daughter a cookie, and she said it was gluten free. My daughter could barely stand and had a terrible tummy ache . This kid just shrugged it off and called my kid a fad-dieter.

  5. On top of this being celiac awareness month, this week is national EMS week where hospitals and employers of emergency medicine and first responders are recognized for the work we do for the public. I have worked on an ambulance for 9 years now and look forward to this week every year. It is always accompanied by my employer laying out all kinds of food every day of the week. We get pizza, sandwhiches, bagels… Etc.
    As a newly diagnosed celiac, this year I was not looking forward to the festivities as much, knowing there would be little if any of the goodies I could partake in, infact the oh edible item for me was some kettle corn, but thankfully I don’t do this job for the free food for a week once a year! I would have hoped that being in the medical field, my coworkers would be respectful about the situation, especially since I never make a big deal of it and always bring my own food with me. I was wrong.
    Yesterday morning I came in for my shift and I got a mask handed to me as every one laughed and someone commented “hey Alyssa, you should probably wear this there is so much gluten in the air with all this free food we get that you can’t have!” Then, at the end of my shift, I come back to the station and a co worker throws a cookie at my face and every one starts laughing and then following up with “oh hey Alyssa there is a ton of pizza you should try over there…oh wait, you can’t! Hhaahaha” I brushed it all off and went home just to start my day today with the same thing— every one partaking in fresh bagels and laughing at me as I ate my gluten free oatmeal…
    It is sad that its starting to “catch on” that making fun of people who have celiac or gluten intolerance is acceptable and hilarious to people who aren’t affected. It sickens me even more that I get this crap from my fellow brothers and sister in the medical field, where health is our business!
    Thank you for all of your blogs and sharing with us. for me personally, it helps me get through my days quietly knowing I’m not alone.

    1. I am so sorry to hear you have been treated this way. From my experiences, and what I hear from others, gluten-free bullying in the medical profession is more apparent than one would think. A few weeks ago, it was Nurse’s Week at our hospital. Our unit gave us all bagels, pizza, fresh baked bread (not gluten free of course), and so on. The only thing I could even try was the coffee. I definitely experienced the same kind of ridiculing as you experienced (not that extreme though!). But, I do have to give my hospital some credit…some other units are very gluten aware and try very hard to accommodate me when I float to other floors. Some people just need some serious education (and the occasional ass-kicking!). Just know we are all here to help you get through all the crap you have to deal with every day. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thanks heather ๐Ÿ™‚ I just read what happened to you as well, and it really blows my mind that this is even a “thing” in the medical field. Thankfully the nurse I work with on CCT always has my back when he is around

    2. Completely agree with you about this blog. It helps me everyday with strength and laughter. That being said, SHAME on all of your work colleagues. They are not even practicing basic respect.

  6. It is a shame to hear of these workplace incidents. As Celiac Disease is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) it might be a good idea to express your concerns informally with your Human Resources department. This Federal legislation is there for your protection.

    1. Yes, that is definitely my plan of action…to speak with HR. Unfortunately, I brought this issue up with my nurse manager and she basically told me that it was my fault…that I should not have accepted the food and that because I willingly ate the food and got sick that that was not an acceptable excuse for calling out sick. Hopefully there will be corrective action taken eventually. Just another day in the life of a Celiac.

  7. โ€œI paid a worker at New York’s zoo to re-open it just for me and Robin [Tyson’s wife]. When we got to the gorilla cage there was 1 big silverback gorilla there just bullying all the other gorillas. They were so powerful but their eyes were like an innocent infant. I offered the attendant $10,000 to open the cage and let me smash that silverback’s snotbox! He declined.โ€
    Mike Tyson

    Keep doing what you are doing GD. You inspire change.
    Jersey Girl

  8. I am so upset that these health care “professionals” would sabotage a co-worker’s health. I work at a university, in accounting, no health care folks around, and get way more respect for what I can and cannot consume. For our department’s annual “closing of the books” lunch, I get to pick the restaurant. And for our building holiday party (half potluck, half catered) in December – there are many gluten free options for those of us that are either celiac or gluten intolerant. There are even signs at those buffet dishes warning not to co-mingle utensils, etc.
    If I ever have to stay in a hospital again, I really hope that my dietary needs will be treated with as much respect and SCIENCE as I get at work.

  9. Heather and Alyssa

    PLEASE report these obnoxious co-workers to HR.
    They should be reprimanded, then fired.
    Whatever happened to human decency?
    How can a health care professional endanger the life of someone?
    How can they do that to a colleague?…and frankly WTF–what are they 12? asshats.
    I am so angry right now, I could spit.

    1. Amen Irish Heart, I was thinking the same thing. 12? how about half that age.

      This is insane. If someone did that to me, I don’t think I’d be idle. Wait, I know someone would pay, not the nice guy no more.

      Heather you need to go to HR, and do it now. Do you have a video on your phone? Use it.

      I see a law suit written all over the wall. If I ate regular spaghetti, I’d be in the hospital for days.

      I read about a teenager who ate a cookie given to him from his friend who swore there were no peanuts in the cookie. Except it was made with peanut oil. The kid died. How funny is that.

      There is no difference. I need to check my BP, cuz I know its soaring as I type this.

      When 1 out of 110 people start to get diagnosed with celiac disease, this won’t be so humorous will it.

      I see a surge in toilet manufacturers, maybe we buy stock in toilets. Not to mention cream for our DH, pills for our Hypothyroidism, meds for small intestinal cancers, hair loss, migraine’s, neurological disorders, ADD, brain fog….gut pain. Maybe we control the market.


      1. oh and I forgot, thank God for the planet, we don’t poop methane gas. sometimes I feel like I do. It would be like being in a a Sci Fi movie. All celiacs please report to section V. People with celiac disease would be eating wheat to prove they can handle gluten so not to be subjected to section V. If we did poop methane gas, we would all parish.

        No I am not drunk. Wish I was though. All these stories about hateful people, can drive me to drink.

  10. Wow- I’m just speechless by these stories. My co-workers are very respectful of my CD and seem to be very interested in learning what I can/can’t eat.

    You really do need to report these people. If they treat your CD as a joke then god knows how they’re treating their patients that have CD.

    I’m so very sorry that this happened to you.

  11. After all the “noise” this week, Dudes support, when you have clearly been attacked beyond. Tonight, I read inspiredrd blog post. I cried. Yes, she nailed it! I am so thankful that there are people out there that so get me and understand! Thank you, thank you, for your determination, heart, and compassion. Thank you for standing on that front line helping us have a voice! I’ve had a former co worker try..let me say, TRY, again to chase me with pizza..others taunt gluten to me. I work in education, this would not happen on my watch. Keep up the good fight Dude!

  12. Gluten Dude, thank you for sharing.
    I was thankful to wake up to Alysa (InspiredRD)’s blog post this morning. Even though it made me cry, it was spot on and reminded me of what a strong support group of celiacs we have out there and that there ARE people who understand. Many times people challenge me on whether or not I am “making this up” or make me question if my symptoms are real and worthy of complaints. But then I try and remember, there are so many more people out there, who have even worse problems than me, and understand what I’m going through.
    My favorite parts of Alysa’s post are below:
    “I want all health care providers to hear this: Stop telling your newly diagnosed celiac patients that treating the disease is easy. ITโ€™S NOT. And stop calling celiac disease โ€œtrendyโ€. Itโ€™s like a slap in the face.”
    “I want you to know that you know someone with celiac disease, and they need your love and understanding. This is harder than it looks.”

    There are days, when it is SO much harder than it looks.

    1. One of the most strangely comforting things I came across in the early days of my diagnosis over a decade ago, was an article in which a celiac specialist said that he’d had patients so despondent over trying to cope with the diagnosis, that they’d had to be hospitalized for suicidal depression. Up until then, all I’d heard was how “lucky” I was to have such an “easily treated” illness. The stress, social isolation, exhaustion from endless cooking and the logistics of just trying to eat, hostility from friends and family, grief over foods forever lost and the severing of cultural connections that went with that… and still feeling physically like garbage…I’d felt somehow that I must be crazy for not being grateful that I had such an “easy” to treat condition. When I finally saw someone admit that this was actually very, very hard and my feelings were given some validation… it was more helpful than a lot of things, honestly.

    2. Alysa did a fabulous job in that article! made me stand up and shout “good job, little sister!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Validation from another one who has walked this path is very reassuring indeed. It’s why I always say to someone who worries
      “people do not believe me, they think it’s all in my head”…..It’s not. I believe you!

  13. I was a bit surprised to see myself quoted in your post. Thanks, Gluten Dude. I’m so grateful for this forum you provide. These horrific stories of bullying and workplace hostility…my God. It’s so depressing. And reinforces why we must speak up and not be pressured into humiliated silence.

    I’ve read before that bullying in general is frighteningly common in medical workplaces. I suspect it’s a thread that runs through the culture of medicine, beginning with the way so many go through their training. People with special dietary needs (as well as those with other illnesses) are perceived as weak, and, in the minds of insecure bullies looking to have control over someone, this makes them easy targets. It’s disturbing, to say the least.

  14. The worst I ever got at work was when a co-worker (who didn’t know me well) got the hump because I wouldn’t share her birthday cake.

    Some people forget me when they have birthdays.
    I suspect one might do it deliberately – but she’s a diagnosed coeliac who isn’t gluten intolerant, so seems to delight in eating gluten at every turn, making me look like I’m paranoid and fussy (when I’m actually just very sensitive to gluten). Annoying!

    But other people DO remember. I get jelly, or yoghurt in place of a cake. Some people even make the effort to visit the free-from section and get me something seriously nice (Waitrose gluten-free millionaires blondies, anyone?). If any of my colleagues are reading this THANK YOU for keeping me safe, and sometimes getting me treats.

    1. “but sheโ€™s a diagnosed coeliac who isnโ€™t gluten intolerant, so seems to delight in eating gluten at every turn, making me look like Iโ€™m paranoid and fussy (when Iโ€™m actually just very sensitive to gluten).”

      ??huh?? is she insane???

      of course she is “gluten intolerant”–she’s a celiac!! that’s the most extreme form of it.

      She should NEVER ingest gluten, even if she does not get overtly sick. She’s going to die an early death being so stupid.

      1. Hi Irish,

        By “not gluten intolerant” I do, of course, mean that she doesn’t suffer the raging intestinal symptoms that I do. There are 3 coeliacs I know of at my place of work, neither of the other 2 were diagnosed as a result of becoming obviously intolerant. One was breaking too many bones, the one I mention above started to go bald (which demonstrates that just because her guts are not screaming at her, there is still damage being done).

        She troubles me more than my other colleagues who are either ignorant of the condition, or ignorant that I have it. They do at least have the excuse of not knowing. This particular young lady is completely in denial about the potential seriousness of the condition, to the extent that she will flaunt her gluten-eating habits. (Look, I can eat this, but you can’t… – extremely childish)

        If I had the time, and I thought she was worth the effort, I might try and do something about it. But if I’m honest, our colleagues (who know both of us) simply accept that although we have both been diagnosed with the same condition, I will refuse to eat anything that might have gluten in case it makes me ill. Whatever my thoughts on the matter (or those of her healthcare professionals) she is an adult and is therefore allowed to make her own choices; provided that they do not harm anyone else, there is nothing that anyone else can do.

        1. I hear you, Kate. I am afraid we can only shake our heads at those
          who continue to ingest the poison. Frankly, hair loss was devastating to me (one of dozens of symptoms I suffered) so I am stunned to hear she chooses a bagel over her hair.

          ah well, to each her own I guess?
          You just do what you need to do to stay safe!

        2. Omg Kate, I have someone who does exactly that. This lady flaunts her delicious eclairs and cookies and what not in my face every freaking morning. It is very aggravating and immature, but sadly, even that is too much for her to comprehend.

  15. Wow. I feel fortunate that I don’t have co-workers who bully me. I don’t have a celiac diagnosis, but I do have a very serious gluten intolerance, so I eat strictly gluten-free, and i *know* when i’ve been glutened. Once I got past the education state with the co-workers – as in, “no, i can’t have just a litte,” and “no, i can’t just take a benadryl,” and “no, i can’t just have whole wheat instead of white bread,” (yeah, believe it or not, i did get asked that once, which just proves some people have no idea what’s in the food they eat) – and though i have to revisit that stage on occasion, for the most part everyone’s respectful and concerned to at least tell me what’s in dishes that are brought for potlucks. the worst i get is an, “oh, wait, you can’t have that because you can’t eat real food.” not great, but i can put up with it. blessings to those of you who have to put up with so much worse. i hope your HR people respect and respond appropriately.

  16. Hey Dude, this post (and so many of your others) would be perfect on right now. Cheryl the CEO is one of the speakers at Fablogcon in Vegas and she is looking for posts on “things that need to change” for celiacs and people with food allergies: social, policy, products and research. If you have a minute, would you mind adding a link to this post to the “blogs” section on Freedible?

  17. I actually do not have celiac. I just have NCGS. Sadly, for a lot of people, that’s too much to comprehend. Some people are just Douchebags.

  18. I am dairy intolerant and suspected allergies to gluten. I was accused of being unnecessarily health consious and being rude because I wouldn’t eat a piece of cream cake. This was an old person who said in her day there was no food allergies . Another woman said I should eat it anyway even if I did have an intolerance. And another woman said to me I get all the luck to be skinny. As if allergies are a fad diet. It’s not fun getting sick. She wouldn’t have said it if she got sick each time she ate something. It’s pathetic!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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 didnโ€™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, Iโ€™ve done my job.

Follow me on this journey

I hate to drive alone

Download my app

And live a better gluten-free life

Send me a message

I'm all ears

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Please type your message.

ยฉ 2024 Gluten Dude: The Naked Truth About Living Gluten Free | Legal Stuff

Scroll to Top