Dear Elle: About Your Awful Gluten-Free Cartoon…

gluten free teasing
Dude Update: So after 9 hours of getting SLAMMED by the celiac community (take a bow folks), Elle has completely removed the post from both their Instagram and Facebook accounts (so my links below probably won’t work now). Seen by millions and yet no acknowledgement. No apology. Such turds. Like it never existed. At least it’s gone.

Dear Elle,

It was brought to my attention last night that you posted something on Instagram that had some of my fellow celiacs upset. I figured it was just some stupid attempt at gluten-free humor (because…you know…our disease is funny) and I’d just write it off.

After all, we’ve been lit up by Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, and plenty of other media outlets over the years. Eventually…I just stopped reacting to them as to not draw attention to the negativity of it all.

But when I saw your Instagram post, I was…let’s see, what’s the right word here…disheartened, disgusted, appalled, repulsed. Yeah…those words will work. But then it got worse. Until this morning, I actually missed what you said along side the picture.

Unbelievably, you said: “We all have that friend…

Look…I know you’ve got a tough job. I mean, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders trying to solve life’s problems. It must be so taxing to come up with these types of headlines:


I mean honestly…you are changing the world so I get it that you may not be so in tune with celiac disease and how your cartoon may affect the community. So, if you have not read the feedback from some of us on your Instagram post, let me fill you in a bit.

I wrote a blog post yesterday, asking the 3 things people miss the most since their celiac diagnosis. I got over 400 responses. Besides missing our favorite foods, you know what the common theme was? Here…let me read some to you.

“I miss my son not just being one of the kids.”
“I miss not feeling afraid and anxious.”
“I miss not planning everything.”
“I miss being able to relax at family gatherings/social occasions involving food.”
“I miss spontaneity.”
“I miss not thinking about food constantly.”
“I miss being able to just say ‘Yes, let’s go out to eat’ without knowing every little thing about the restaurant.”
“I miss not having to think about everything that goes in my mouth.”
“I miss not having to explain celiac at every social gathering!”

You get the picture? Because THAT is the life of a celiac. We’re a strong bunch. We deal with it. But we HATE living in that bubble that you portrayed us in. We WANT to be at that table enjoying whatever the f*ck we feel like. And at the end of the day, even though we’re ungodly diligent and careful, one crumb, one little bit of cross-contamination, can set off an autoimmune response in our system that can make us feel like we’re crawling out of our skin for weeks.

And I don’t wanna hear that your cartoon was aimed toward the fad dieters. That line has gotten so old. That is simply a defense mechanism that lazy writers use to make fun of people. And by the way, the general population cannot discern between the two so you are indeed insulting EVERYONE who eats gluten-free.

So please Elle, stick to doing what you do best, whatever the hell that is. Get out of YOUR bubble and learn a bit about our disease. Oh…and I just saw that you also posted it on your Facebook page to your 4 million followers. Of course you did, because f*ck you.


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57 thoughts on “Dear Elle: About Your Awful Gluten-Free Cartoon…”

  1. Thanks Dude! I love that you stand up for us. I just wish Elle would understand that they make it so much harder for people with this disease. I can just “feel” the family members, servers, chefs, and restaurant managers everywhere just rolling their eyes and saying that they can relate to that cartoon. It makes me sad. I can think of no other disease that people make fun of so freely. It’s ridiculous! Shame on you Elle!

  2. I’d like to add to the GF Comments:

    I miss hanging out with my husband, my friends, and family, because I’ve been so sick I can’t leave the house.
    I miss not being depressed because I’m sick all the time.
    I miss my GF buddy who just committed suicide.

  3. I don’t normally post comments online but in this circumstance, thank you Dude…just…thank you. I was beyond appalled when I saw that cartoon. I love that someone who has a loud enough voice and following on the net has the kahunas to stand up for the celiac community, which gives us all a voice.

  4. Thank you for fighting for us. It is exhausting to go it alone. Thank you for being the articulate, accurate and humorous voice for us all.

  5. In my case, it’s caused what they call recurrent miscarriages. My husband and I are trying to have a baby. I now have 19 miscarriages to my name. So a big hearty Fuck You to those that think living gluten-free is a joke.

  6. I’m not even mad right now, just extremely disappointed and sad.

    “Why yes. I am ‘that friend’ that’s gluten free. Thanks for pointing out that I’m different, yet again, when all I really want to do is blend in.” – I’ve actually said this to some people after hearing the same thing about six times. How do people not understand it’s not something we WANT to do and that we would give almost ANYthing to not have to do?

    Thanks for standing up for us. Over the years it’s been harder and harder to speak up, but knowing that there is someone out there advocating and helping us connect and support each other is comforting.

  7. There’s over 7,400 likes on Instagram alone. I just…can’t.

    Will humanity ever grow out of this junior high school type of cruelty?

  8. This is just sad. I haven’t gone out to an actual restaurant in about a year for fear of cross-contamination. I stopped taking advantage of the “free” food at work because signs specifically state they are not allergen safe and contamination can occur. I’m tired of feeling like crap, so many days I wish I could just stay home, but I have to drag myself into work, which is why I so desperately keep trying to build my own side business so I don’t have to worry about being away from home. How sad is that. And I know all the stress of bills and work do not help me in any way. Thanks so much for saying something cause I’m tired of the “fad” dieters when I honestly have no choice. Either I eat this way, or feel like I’m dying, not much of a choice there.

  9. Thanks for yelling at the media again, Glutendude. Unfortunately they tend to deserve a lot of yelling.

    So, here comes a rant. Sorry about that, but today in class we watched the documentary “Harlan County, USA”, and discussed power, powerlessness and the media. Among other things. Let’s just say I’ve reached my tolerance of BS for today, especially when it comes to exploiting and ruining people’s health for profit.

    Here we go.

    Okay people. I am honestly curious about this, as I am not American nor have I ever lived in the US: is it common practice these days to make fun of blind people? Of people in wheelchairs? People with diabetics (any of the types)? Cancer patients? Cancer survivors? People with severe nut allergies? Of people with [insert any disease, chronic illness and/or disability]? I mean, is it common to make fun of all these people in public?

    I know that we are all by now (sick of) playing Cards Against Humanity, where making jokes about everything one isn’t supposed to joke about is a part of the game. But aren’t people tired of making mean comments concerning race, gender, class and whatever by now. Mean comments, camouflaged as jokes, that actually causes harm. Words that marginalize and minimize other people’s current or historical suffering. Yes, humor is important, but so is caring about other human beings. – aka the public audience, for instance.

    If the text in the comic in question had been “I am gluten free, this is my life and I hate this aspect of it”, or something like that, Elle could have educated their audience and still used the same drawing.

    Currently they are just being oppressive.
    – and yes, I choose to use a term associated with social justice movements.

    Because I am angry. Because this is not okay. We are not okay with this. And these kinds of comments/jokes seem to be never-ending.

    And seriously, people; why is it never ending?

    Rant done.

    Wishing everybody a fine week 🙂

    1. Well said Aurora. See…we have this thing in the U.S. that it’s become “politically correct” worrying about hurting other people’s feeling. And the internet has made it 1000 times worse. It’s truly a sad state of affairs.

        1. To be honest, I am more “f*ck people (on the interwebs) not ever giving a sh@t about eachother”. – but that’s just me 😉

          It should be possible talking about really hard things without feeling silenced by PK culture, or being a jerk. But it’s difficult. Truly difficult.

          If I am not mistaken, what we are asking for is a drop of “political correctness”, aka human decency, concerning coeliac/the (non-fad) gf community. And at least here, on the ever-amazing Glutendude blog, this wish is not a bad thing.

          Further down in the comments people have started talking about bullying. Which is, when not physically violent, teasing going too far. Too much. And too loud.

          And yes, only the victims are the ones to tell when “friendly jokes” have gone too far.

          I believe we are in this together.

    2. I’m allergic to corn (as well as wheat – not gf but for obvious reasons I count them in my group). Carry 2 epi-pens (or more) and I can tell you I’ve been “made fun of” by adults. We put corn in freaking everything in America too. I think my opinion is that most of the population doesn’t make fun of those groups. Unfortunately those that do are very vocal.

  10. Sorry, can’t agree. I’ve been coeliac for 5 years now and your response comes across exactly how a lot of people see GF-free folk; namby-pamby, pedantic softies. It is a crap affliction to have but for crying out loud, it’s not the end of the world! How many other diseases/ailments out there can be ‘cured’ simply by changing ones diet? At the age of 36, I consider myself to be fortunate, if this is the only health issue I face.

    I understand first-hand how people can suffer from gluten allergies but i don’t see how ranting at a bloody cartoon is going to change peoples opinion of it, further still as stated, it’ll just serve to reinforce it. Like so many things these days (particularly on the internet), if something bothers you, just turn the other cheek and go about your day. Stressing about it, particularly something as trivial as a cartoon in a crap magazine, is not healthy! :0)

    1. Hey Paul…thanks for the input. A few things. 1) Pedantic softies? Really?? 2) The gfree diet is not a cure, it’s a treatment. 3) I’ve said this so many times, but I’ll say it again. It’s not about ME. It’s about the community. It’s about advocacy. 4) Read some of the responses from kids who have been bullied. They are bullied because of cartoons like this. And if you think that’s ok but it doesn’t affect YOU, that’s a sad way to live your life.

      1. This whole notion that we are being overly sensitive or need to “lighten up” is what’s wrong with the world in general. No, in fact, we need to stop being so lazy and stand up for what’s right, or at the very least not add to the problem by getting in the way of people standing up for what’s right. Adults making light of serious issues is absolutely what leads to kids being bullied and to them growing up angry because they were bullied. Do we really care so little about our own race that we will allow our children to grow up hating each other? Is humour, if it can even be called that, worth the cost? The answer to that question should be a clear ‘No’.

      2. Thanks Gluten dude! The ‘trend’ of being GF is so badly beaten up, that, as a nurse I’ve been asked by a couple of my doctor colleagues if I’ve had the testing, when I’ve told them about my diagnosis.
        I’m a sensible, well trusted nurse- but medical professionals that trust my judgement in serious medical matters, still asked if I was legit, basically. This is how people are influenced by these cartoons. As a coeliac the trendies affect my interaction with others to this point- but taking the mickey out of them affects us. In big and small ways. We do get lumped in with them. It’s not ok. Thank you.

    2. Paul,

      The problem is when people joke about it and don’t take it seriously, that means when we go to a restaurant you can never really trust that the people preparing the food are taking the disease seriously, because they think everyone is doing it for a fad or to lose weight. There have been people who have purposely fed a person with CD gluten to see if they get sick or if it’s “all in their head”. People need to know it’s not a joke and people who have CD can get seriously ill from even a small amount of gluten.

  11. Well said, even though the pessimist in me (brought on by the constant invalidation of Celiac) believes that this will make little difference in the perception Elle has.

  12. “After 5 years” – you are just at the beginning of your journey. Still in that honeymoon stage where life seems great because you think this is easy! Just wait till you need some hospital treatment and they can’t give you any food that is GF. OR – better yet, when you need some medication and you have no RIGHT to even know if it contains gluten.

    “CURED” – really, you don’t yet fully understand the issue. But after all 5 years is still just the very beginning of living life with celiac.

    “At the age of 36” – consider yourself VERY LUCKY! Many of us much older nearly died before doctors recognized it was more than “all in our heads”. Try walking in our shoes for a few miles, then come back and have such a blithe attitude about it.

    There is no excuse for bullying anyone. And this is NOT a cartoon. It is clearly bullying.

    1. Totally with you. I’m now 15 years in. I’ve had multiple surgeries (outpatient, thankfully!) without all the benefit of the recommended post-surgical prescriptions. Simple things, like antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, painkillers. Oh, you have not lived until you have had to use zen-meditation techniques during a surgical procedure done without anesthesia and only local painkillers because you could not take the anti-anxiety and general painkiller drugs they wanted to use, and tried to avoid hearing the scalpel each time they cut into your head. You have not lived until you have had to recover from shoulder or wrist surgery without the benefit of painkillers. All because you have celiac and multiple food allergies. I dread when I may be actually hospitalized, and have taken steps to ensure I have people who can advocate for my care in that situation.

      “namby-pamby, pedantic softies” my butt.

  13. Thank-you for responding to this Dude.

    This is harmful in ways that go beyond simply poking fun at a food intolerance (which is what they will claim to have been doing). As I said on Facebook:

    Boredom and lack of imagination. These are the only reasons I can think of to explain this kind of laziness. Making fun of someone with a serious food allergy or auto-immune disease is laziness. It’s easy, but the cost is high. Not only does it do damage to the person being made fun of, as sure as a punch to the stomach, it perpetuates the social acceptability of a form of bullying behaviour. Do you we not get this yet? Bullying in any form is not okay. By-standers are as guilty as the ones wielding weapons, whether pens or fists. If we laugh at this stuff, or ‘brush it off’, we’re saying it’s okay to us that this ignorance and intolerance continues. Let’s not do that anymore. Please?

  14. Miss Dee Meanor

    Imagine the public’s response if during Breast Cancer Awareness month they had someone with a mastectomy and her friends saying, “We get it, Amanda. You don’t want to go bra shopping.”

    1. That is so on the money, Miss Dee! (And I say that as a cancer survivor with a double mastectomy). Although, sadly, with the state of discourse in the U.S., we are about one smidge away from breast cancer jokes.

  15. THANK YOU! Btw…I think you used one of my responses from yesterday’s post. Totally awesome! 😉

    1. If you are looking for commission or some kind of residual, you’ve come to the wrong place 😉

  16. You realize this Elle post was about the people who decide to go gluten-free for no reason other than they can right? I highly doubt she was directly trying to insult celiacs in any way. You are just blowing this way out of proportion and taking offense to something that doesn’t need to be taken offensively. This photo posted by Elle is literally the same idea as the video that went viral recently about the meat eater mocking vegetarians/vegans. Or the millions of videos mocking bodybuilders, or cross-fit members. If there is a ‘fad’, it will get mocked. It has nothing to do with you being a celiac, but rather, other people jumping on a diet bandwagon to cut out gluten, and then make sure everyone around them knows about it.

    Regardless, I agree, bringing hate on an issue without specifically calling out ‘fake celiacs’ is probably a mistake, and will cause issues to people with the actual disease…

    But seriously, learn to ignore shit and take a joke. This isn’t the end of the world, and it isn’t as ‘disgusting’ as you’re making it out to be.

    1. That’s right Bruno…because we’re standing up for the community, that means it’s the “end of the world”. SMFH

    2. Not the same thing as the thing that was mocking vegetarians… that’s a choice, apples to oranges.

  17. Cheryl, you are absolutely right about hospitals. Five years ago, I took a small suitcase of food with me when I had to have surgery (5 days inpatient) because the only food on the menu I could eat (also have dairy, soy, beef and walnut sensitivities) was a hard-boiled egg. I don’t like hard-boiled eggs. Oh, and rice bread they toasted in gluten-filled toasters.

  18. Nine years ago last week my brother was diagnosed with bladder cancer. That was hard, for him, for his wife and kids, and for me. You know what was harder? Several weeks later, he was diagnosed with celiac disease. The shock of the cancer diagnosis probably triggered the celiac disease, which had been dormant (the stress-diathesis model). He has dealt with the bladder cancer through check-ups, which are no fun, and occasional treatment, which is less fun. But every single day, he has to deal with the celiac disease. His body is incredibly sensitive. Occasionally his feelings are too. The toll on his family, on his work, and on the quality of his life is immeasurable. Those of you in the community get it. Those of you who are ignorant should become educated. Including you, Elle.

  19. Dude, thanks for sticking up for us. Sitting in a bubble is how I feel and it is not funny in the least. That cartoon actually makes me want to cry and I am over 5 years out from diagnosis. It is either bubble or sick, I choose bubble. I am still fighting too hard for my health for any less. A little compassion, understanding, and sensitivity go along way. It is hard to be THAT friend.

  20. Well, Dude, I was in the middle of writing my comment on the Facebook post, when it told me I couldn’t post it because the post was no longer available. Then it disappeared. I think they took it down! There were over 280(?) comments at that point, and all the ones I saw were telling them what a nasty, hurtful thing that was to post… in the middle of Celiac Disease Awareness month, no less! Thanks for the good work you do!

  21. I miss mourning my belived Nana who passed the same day an errant crum entered system. Being bedridden since Sunday since Sunday makes me just the worst friend, and my grandmother would have just though I was stealing her thunder –end sarcasm
    Dear Elle, I’m looking forward to next weeks Lupus jokes, it will be so hilarious to keep picking on those with an autoimmune disease

  22. I Always try to stay positive and upbeat for my 14 and 10yr old daughters who were diagnosed with coeliac disease a few years ago, the embarrassment for a child who has to take their own food to parties, sleepovers, school sausage sizzles, the holding of a motel bin under their chin while they vomit for hours after cross contamination (night before huge soccer try outs), the cuddles with a little girl whose pain is soul breaking etc etc etc etc etc breaks my heart and the utter idiocy of people’s idea of funny absolutely astounds me. I can’t believe I am saying this but I really hope they are touched by this disease or one of their dear loved ones, then and only then, I believe, will their small, uneducated minds be converted to the reality of living with coeliac disease. Ps I have never written on one of these threads but I’m steaming angry!!!!!!

  23. Great work getting that offensive cartoon removed. An apology would have been nice. Guess that’s the level of their Celiac Awareness for Celiac Awareness Month. Thank you all for protesting and being celiac awareness activists not pacifists turning the other cheek.

  24. You do realize that the people actually being satirized here don’t have celiac disease, right? The target is those self-superior jackasses who jump on whatever “hot” shit happens to be trending at the moment, and this current trend happens to have bred a legion of self-superior nitwits who usually don’t know what the fuck gluten really even is, and definitely not what it means to have a real issue with it. They’re like those people who suddenly “find” religion and then don’t shut the fuck up about it.

    1. The people the cartoon is responding to are the ones who make a big deal about needing gluten free food, some of whom also advocate that others go gluten free also. Some (many?) of these are probably disciples of “Wheat Belly” author Dr. William Davis. And for some, it’s the latest fad diet, aimed at weight loss and/or feeling better. (And I don’t know what’s gotten into some of them.) Unfortunately, probably a few are really celiacs who happen to be drama queens as well. (I think most of us who have celiac disease or a wheat allergy or serious gluten sensitivity try to keep a low profile, aren’t evangelists for the gluten free way, and generally try to be as inoffensive as we can about our dietary requirements.)

      But the problem is that we’re tarred with the same brush by a cartoon like this, which does not distinguish between those who have to eat gluten free and those who want to for one of the reasons mentioned above.

      We’ve read here in the forum the complaints of restaurant people who try hard to take care of our needs, only to see some gluten free people drink beer or eat a gluten-filled dessert. So I get the emotion behind the cartoon. I just wish they’d come up with some way to depict the difference between the fool in the bubble and the those who really need to avoid gluten. Not easy in a single-panel cartoon. (But if you can’t do something like this right, you shouldn’t do it at all.)

  25. You are my friggin’ hero – again and again, you take one – and make a stand – for the Team.
    And it WORKS!!! YES!!!!

    Thank you, thank you and ever THANK YOU!!
    All the best.

  26. As an elementary teacher I thought I understood food allergies and how to keep my students safe in the classroom. I didn’t truly get them until 2 of my 3 children were diagnosed with Celiac last summer. One also has a complex heart defect to add to this mix. So now I’m educating others not only on CHD, but Celiac as well. My 4 year old asks everyone who offers a treat, “Is it gluten free?” before he’ll touch it. That makes me proud and sad at the same time. School parties, baseball games, other people’s homes, eating all know the struggles. It’s so hard to always be telling them no, or hold on let me look it up. Our house is completely GF so their older brother has to give things up as well. I hope their food issues help them become more compassionate to other’s issues.

  27. I just found this community. I’ve been GF for 30 years and was there when restaurants and servers didn’t know and didn’t care what GF was. Something a ‘mag rag’ does to sell their magazines at the expense of others is appalling but i’m also old enough not to give a rats butt. It obviously upset many people and I’m glad they removed it. Turn the other GF cheek and stay healthy. Hugs.

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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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