It’s hard to be a glu-tard (a person who cannot eat gluten).
It’s hard on your friends who want to get you a birthday cake. And the ladies at church who provide muffins and donuts. And waitresses. And your wallet when you want to inevitably order pizza and have to drive forever to get to said gluten-free pizza place.
I’ve got celiac disease, a genetic disorder that causes the villi in my small intestine to flatten like pancakes when I eat gluten. Side effects may include gut aches, headaches and mouth sores. Diagnosis of this disease comes from a simple blood test. That said, it’s easy to be a glutard, but it’s hard to be gluten-free.
Waitresses are wonderful human beings. They have to be nice and serve people all day. However, they are not the ones who have been without wheat, rye or barley for 13 years. One lovely lady at Red Robin tried to take the ketchup off the table and tell me I couldn’t eat it.
Excuse me Rhonda, but last I checked, nobody sprinkled gluten powder into the ketchup bottle before it left the factory. I can’t order a gluten-free burger bun without a server asking me if I need special fries as well. I never feel like I want to wait an extra ten minutes for my delicious steak fries, so I don’t. Gluten privileged people do not have this complication in their lives.
When you’re gluten-free, people will have no idea what to offer you. It’s like being that person at a party that just started AA and everyone’s passing out Budweiser (not that I would know; Budweiser has gluten in it).
Pizza parties are the worst. An all-time low was eating all the pepperoni and cheese off three slices of Figaro’s. That was middle school in 2005.
When people don’t know what to offer you, or don’t know what they just offered you, the will give you “the look.” All gluten-free individuals are familiar with “the look.” This is the look that appears on the faces of kind-hearted people who’ve just offered you a delicious pastry. Maybe it’s a cookie from a batch they just baked, or maybe it’s cupcakes for the entire classroom. Perhaps someone just made the pilgrimage to Voodoo donuts and is bearing the coveted pink box. (I am reminded of the Bible verse that says, “Love is patient, love is kind. Love is baked in an oven at 350 degrees and served warm and melty.” I’m sure Paul was talking about chocolate chip cookies.)
The exchange goes like this:
Kind-Hearted Person: Hey, I brought (insert bakery item here)! Take one!
Me: *Doesn’t take one*
KHP: Hey, take a (bakery item).
Me: Thanks, but I-
This is when “the look” makes its appearance. This sweet, bakery-minded individual has just realized they offered you food that will give you severe gastrointestinal problems if consumed. Their mouths open, they gasp and often lay an apologetic hand upon you.
KHP: I am so sorry; I forgot. You can’t eat it, can you?
Me: No, I can’t. But thank you so much for offering
The exchange can end here, but sometimes the KHP feels the need to find something you can eat instead.
Person: You can eat the frosting, can’t you?
In their embarrassment, the KHP has just offered to let you lick a cupcake/other baked good, then throw the rest of it away because nobody is going to eat a cupcake someone licked. Heck, no one would eat a cupcake devoid of frosting anyway. It is now your job to make sure the subject is dropped for good, in order to spare them further awkwardness.
Me: No, but thank you. What grade did you get on the Persuasive Theory paper?
Congrats! You have successfully avoided being seen as high-maintenance because of your diet.
Though the worst thing about being gluten-free is that you have to be accommodated, there are unexpected blessings to being gluten-free. My boss knows I can’t have cookies so he gets me a huge bag of dark chocolate M&M’s for my birthday. My boyfriend’s mom made sure I got a bowl full of gluten free cookies all to myself for the Super Bowl. The dining hall provided a gluten-free toaster just for me and others like me. (Though it did get slammed on the counter and broken. Someone didn’t like exclusive toaster privileges.)
Through my pilgrimage through the gluten-free life, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned sometimes people think they know more about your diet than you do. I’ve learned life is awkward and annoying and devoid of cream puffs. I’ve learned I will probably never get to try a cronut.
But to be devoid of something gives others an opportunity to make sure you’re looked after—that you get something sweet to eat along with everyone else. To make sure you’re loved.
And as the Good Book says, love baked in an oven is the most delicious kind.