How to Survive as a Gluten-Free Dude

gluten free guy with celiac

Dude note: This article was written by yours truly and appeared in the latest issue of Simply Gluten Free magazine. If you are not a subscriber, it’s a good magazine run by good people. More info here.

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The gluten-free industry, for whatever reason, is represented in the public eye mostly people of the female persuasion. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I’m sure there are a plethora of gluten-free dudes out there, but I suppose they just keep a lower profile. It’s kind of like how we don’t ask for directions because “we’ll just figure it out.”

Well let me tell you…the gluten-free life ain’t easy to figure out; for anyone, regardless of which rest room door you choose.

Speaking from personal dude experience, talking about food and our health issues just doesn’t come as naturally to us. Don’t ask me why. It’s just one of our endearing shortfalls I suppose.

But there must be lots of dudes out there who are lost in the gluten-free wilderness; who are looking for someone to guide them through the bevy of dude activities.

gluten free dude

Gluten Dude…at your service.

Let’s take a walk through some typical male activities and see how we can turn gluten-free frustration into a good time had by all. You’ll see two common themes along the way: making the best of things and being prepared.

Oh…and yes I know these are totally female-friendly activities too so please no “Gluten Dude is a sexist” emails to the good folks at Simply Gluten Free.

Hiking/Camping/Boating

I’ll put these all into one “being one with mother earth” category. They mean being out in the wide open and not having any access to a refrigerator, freezer, wine cooler or juice bar.

My parents had a cool 17-foot Aquasport motor boat when I was growing up. We had a beac house at Long Beach Island and the boat was docked right across the street. Man was that awesome. My parents worked all week so my brothers and I had free reign with the boat. Sometimes you don’t realize how good you have it until you don’t have it anymore.

Anyway, if you are going on a simple day trip, it’s pretty easy to keep gluten-free. Pack snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. And not unhealthy crap that you might find in the gluten-free aisles of your local grocery store. Think smart. You want your energy to last for the entire day and not get dragged down by processed junk.

Here’s what I would bring for a day trip with mother nature: plain almonds, natural peanut butter (the kind that does not have to be refrigerated), bananas, apples, chocolate bars (a little won’t hurt), and tons of water.

Tailgating

I wish I could tell you I have fond memories of going to the NY Giant football games with my dad when I was young. But my only memories are of not being able to feel my feet because it was so ungodly cold. You see…my dad could only get tickets for the games later in the season. And when I was young, the Giants were awful; kind of like they are now but with absolutely no hope for the future. So we’d go to games against some crappy team in early December and absolutely freeze our rear ends off. Bonding with my dad was awesome…the rest of it…not so much.

Anyway, the tailgating parties I experienced back in the day don’t even compare to some of the tailgating parties I’ve seen recently. I mean people seriously go ALL OUT.

So what do you do if you’re invited to the big game and the festivities beforehand consist of burgers, dogs, ribs, bbq chicken and tons of other food items you can’t partake in?

If you’re hell-bent on joining in the grilling activities, bring your own food, condiments and utensils so you know they’re safe. Then grab a spot on the grill that will be reserved just for you. Scrape the heck out of that section of the grill and toss your food on. Now here’s the important part: do not take your eyes off that grill. One slip up from someone else and your meal, your game, and possibly your next few weeks, are ruined.

Dating

I thank my lucky stars that I was already married to the wonderful Mrs. Dude when I got my celiac diagnosis. Between the celiac, my cancer and my blood clots, I’m not exactly the catch I once was in my younger days.

But if I had to date now? Oh boy, I’d be a lost soul.

But not when it came to the food. One of the few good things about getting older is you gain a level of confidence and more of a “who cares what others think” mentality. While I don’t enjoy being gluten-free, I really don’t care what other people think about it.

So if you’re on a date, don’t be embarrassed about eating gluten-free. Embrace it. Tell her/him ahead of time that you have to eat gluten-free and what that means. You choose the restaurant. Explain why if questions arise. Bring her into the conversation and be open about it. And no, this does not mean talking about your disease the entire evening. There are so many more interesting things to discuss.

Keg Parties

I saved the toughest for last. My keg party days are a distant memory. Partly because they were so long ago and partly because I killed a lot of brain cells at those parties. I simply cannot imagine now waiting on line for 10 minutes to get a cup full of semi-cold cheap beer. But dang…I certainly did enjoy it back in the day.

Anyway, if you can’t have beer and you’re heading to a kegger, you’ve got some options:

  1. Bring a six-pack of your favorite gluten-free beer in a cooler with you. I know, kind of a pain and you’ve got to keep tabs on it, but at least you’ll be able to join in the beer-fest still.
  2. Get yourself a nice flask and make yourself a cocktail for the evening. No waiting on line and you’ll have the best drink in the house.
  3. Don’t drink. There’s no law that says you have to drink at a keg party. Sometimes watching everyone else make fools of themselves is more fun than being one of the fools.

What’s the lesson here? Never, ever let your food restrictions get in the way of a good time, whether you’re a dude or a dudette. Yeah, you’ve got to modify. Yeah, it takes more planning. And yeah, it can be a pain in the butt at times.

But what’s more important? What you’re doing…or what you’re eating?

Enjoy life to the fullest.

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24 thoughts on “How to Survive as a Gluten-Free Dude”

  1. I’ve said it before: I would have been completely lost without this site.

    Dating sucks. Even without celiac. But yeah, if a woman isn’t able to deal with it, I don’t sweat it. Next…

    I’m still getting my footing at BBQ’s and parties. But I do have a flask, and it has been useful. My friends are pretty cool about watching out for me too. My extended family is clueless. So I make a couple of dishes for my brother and myself, and make a separate pan for the rest of them.
    Oh and Kind bars are awesome and make snacking at work (my office is a subway train) easier.

  2. Fine article & post GDude.

    Like Ken, I also appreciate all of your hard work keeping us CD dudes informed – the journey would be much more difficult without you.

    Thanks!

  3. I was reading this magazine the other night and at first thought someone had Stolen your “gluten dude” moniker – until I got to the end of the article. It was great to see you are writing for them. It’s a great magazine!

  4. I am 40 yrs old this year. I was diagnosed as a celiac wheni was a baby, long before many people knew it even existed. I had many long hospital stays as a child and was always sickly and had dark eyes. I developed Psorisis at around age 8 when I had a terrible reaction from my celiac. I remember my grandmother flying across country to try to learn new recipes to teach my mother. Growing up in a single parnt home with a little brother and very little money did not allow me to always eat gluten free… I ended up eating whatever I wanted whenever i wanted. drank beer through my twenties and loved bread… I learned some things were worse than others…. Pasta was a absoliute no no….. but when was still two days till payday….it was SPAGETTI for dinner…. I always paid the price with days of pain, bloating etc. This past year any and all gluten has left me with severe reactions. I am now finally committing to a 100% gluten free diet! As I write this I am in tears and can barely see what I am typing. As I have read your site today almost every word…. I have realized alot of my health issues including my severe deppression can all lead back to my celiac disease…. I am scared and deeply saddened but also very relieved to have some long awaited questions answered…. The first 40 years of my life have been full of health and mental issues, I am going to make sure my next 40 years are much more healthy both mentally and physically…. I am making sure I am gluten free for the rest of my life….
    Thank you for your site and helping me through this disease I always knew I had, but never knew how to manage…..
    my one question right is…. if I accidently have gluten and I have sever stomach symptoms is there anyway to relive them? Or do I just have to let it run its course through my system…I find I end up fasting for 24 to 48 hours before I can eat anything again…. That can’t be good for me….
    Thank you again… I will be here often

  5. Another note of appreciation from a fellow GF dude.

    When I was first DX’ed in May 2013, I blanched at the cost of GF bread and other such “substitute” foods. I knew that foods like meats, fish, nuts, produce, beans, etc were naturally GF… but would I be able to build an entire diet around such items? Then I found this site — in particular, your article “Stop Eating Gluten-Free Foods” — and it completely validated my thinking. If I’m not mistaken it’s one of, if not the most commented article on this entire blog, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s not just coincidence. When I found that article, I knew this blog was for people like me.

    So I don’t eat a lot of those replacement foods. I do a lot more scratch cooking now than I ever did pre-DX, and I’m probably better off for it. While I do partake in things like GF waffles or pasta occasionally (I only buy them on sale!), they’re not the core of my diet, just more of a way to supplement the rest of my eating when I don’t feel like preparing, say, a buckwheat pilaf, shakshuka, chicken tikka masala, a triple egg & ham omelette or a six-bean casserole.

    I would have driven myself nuts always making it about what I can’t eat. I had to turn it around and make it more about what I CAN (most of those dishes I just mentioned were things I never ate pre-DX). And this blog has definitely helped inform my approach.

  6. My husband has celiac. Keggers are not an issue. Work lunches are. He’s middle management. When upper management has a lunch, he often has to go, and it’s not him choosing the restaurant. It sucks. Same with all the other lunches (except the 2 he organizes). Christmas parties, retirement parties. Gah.

  7. Not to mention all the extra salt GF processed foods have in them. Celiac 6 years now and it is completely normal for me to have snacks with me in my purse at all times. Gluten dude I feel for you, maybe a nice fanny pack, murse, or backpack will do. : ) I also take a bag of food with me on all trips. Thanks goodness my hubby had gold status (up to 70lbs per suitcase) with the airline we flew to Disney World with, I packed one suitcase mostly full of GF food (nervous about 9 days away). Glad I did.

    1. High blood pressure runs in my family so I began to cut my sodium even several years before my DX. I realised at that time that processed foods in general have a lot of added sodium. The GF stuff is hardly any better as you indicate.

      I haven’t read it except for a couple excerpts that my local paper published at the time, but someone wrote a book in the last couple of years under the theme that fat, salt and sugar are the three ingredients the processed food industry overloads into their products. If at any time one of these falls into public disfavour, then they trumpet how they’ve cut back on it while quietly loading up on the other two. That is, until one of those becomes the next bugaboo, and then it’s lather, rinse, repeat.

      http://www.amazon.com/Salt-Sugar-Fat-Giants-Hooked/dp/1400069807/

  8. I went to a team dinner a week or so ago at a restaurant where the waitstaff advised I not eat anything from their menu. (I called ahead and they told me I shouldn’t chance my health to them.) I appreciated their honesty and ate something before going to the dinner. The people around the table asked me why I bothered showing up to the dinner if I couldn’t eat. I asked if they considered me part of team. They enthusiastically said “YES”. I replied that if I am part of the team I should celebrate with the team – even if that means I have to sip diet pepsi while they eat. They couldn’t argue with that. In my mind it was better than being excluded and staying home or risking my health.

  9. Things I eat that any dude can eat that are naturally gluten free:
    – Steak
    – Bacon
    – Baked potatoes
    – Butter
    – Sour cream
    – Bacon
    – Bourbon
    – Wine
    – Fish (grilled)
    – Shrimp (boiled)
    – Bacon
    – French fries from 5 Guys
    – Ribs
    – Chicken
    – Corn on the cob
    – Pop corn
    – Other things made from corn like bourbon
    – Bacon
    – Hamburger
    – Cheese
    – Lettuce and tomatoes (for bacon cheeseburgers)
    – Fruit… which you can use in a daiquiri
    – Pork chops
    – Scallops
    – Bacon
    – Bacon wrapped scallops
    – Apple cider
    And while I don’t date any more (Mrs. Vic definitely disapproves), all of these can be done fairly easily cooked over an open flame or chilled in a refrigerator.

  10. I saw this video (link below) a while ago but this seems like a good time to share it: it aired in July 2013 on CBS’s NYC affiliate, a 2-min video called “Keeping Your Food Safe For The Gluten-Free” (specifically, during 4th of July celebrations). Probably one of the better (i.e., more responsible) stories I’ve seen from a newscast — there’s comment from the mother of a young celiac daughter, and the whole story focusses on GF as a health and safety issue rather than as a diet trend. A registered dietitian also gives advice on choosing GF food items for your backyard BBQ and just as importantly, safeguarding against cross-contamination by (for example) not sharing serving utensils.

    I have no idea why this is on Jim Rome’s website of all places but here it is:

    http://jimrome.com/video/9056176-keeping-your-food-safe-for-the-gluten-free/

    I think I’d probably miss the grill marks on my BBQed meat if I had to put it on a layer of foil as they do here — but it’s a pretty small price for safety.

  11. It’s associated with women because it is viewed in the media as a diet for faddy air-headed bimbos and for which men are much too sensible. Clearly neither men nor women with coeliac disease (or similar) fare very well under these impressions.

  12. Hi all,

    I’m gluten and dairy free by choice. For me it is a great and healthy way to live.
    I want to tell all the single men with celiac trying to date- don’t give up. There are women out there who will not only be understanding to your situation, but may even prefer your life style. I wish you the all the best of luck!

    Marta

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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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