Saturday, 9 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month - Things I've Heard

Having a disease that isn't really talked about much leads to a lot of strange and silly questions. I have no judgement for anyone asking an honest question, no matter how silly it may seem, as long as they are not rude about it. Below are several of the things I've heard when I tell someone about my disease for the first time, and the answers I'd give if I sometimes wish I could give.

"So do you eat those rice cake things?"
 Probably. Rice is gluten-free. But I promise you, I eat a lot more than one thing.
"Potatoes aren't gluten-free."
Please, please, please just trust me to know what I can and can't eat. I've been doing this for awhile, and it's actually pretty serious. I've done a lot of research, and I've made a lot of mistakes. So please just stop telling me basic things like this, especially when you're wrong. (Potatoes are perfectly gluten-free, I basically live off of them.)
"Ugh, is this because it's trendy?"
First of all, no. Second of all, if the answer were yes, this is still an inappropriate question. Do I ask you if you're wearing skinny jeans just because it's trendy? No, because I'm not an ass.
"Couldn't you eat a little?"
No. Just no. For goodness sake, no. I get sick for a week when someone else accidentally contaminates my food. So no, I will not "just eat a little" of that cake. And don't take it personal. I don't take it personal that you're trying to poison me.
"So are you a vegan?"
Wanna hear something crazy? Wheat is vegan. So is barley, and rye. In fact, all original forms of gluten are vegan. Meanwhile, no animal products naturally contain gluten. So yes, I could be a vegan with celiac disease, but that doesn't seem like a natural progression to me. Would you ask someone with diabetes if they're vegan?
"What do you even eat?"
Here it is. The big one. Man, I almost don't know how to answer this. Well, I eat food. Just like you. I eat meat, milk, bread, cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables. Yeah, I buy expensive bread and I have to read the ingredients on everything I buy, but I promise you that your meals don't look that different from mine.
"So what can't you eat?"
Gluten. If you expect me list specific foods, we're going to be here for awhile. It's in a lot of things including wheat flour, soy sauce, licorice, barbeque sauce, ham, beef & barley soup, pretty much most soups, actually, and a lot of other stuff. No, it's not in everything, but it's in a lot of things you wouldn't expect it to be, and I have to be very diligent to avoid it.
 "Oh my gosh, I didn't know!"
That's okay. It obviously hasn't come up. It isn't like I'm dying or anything. The fact that it's coming up now means I don't have anything against telling you, either. But I also don't want to prance around telling everyone I meet, because there's more to me than that.
"How long have you had it?"
 No judgement for asking this question. It's kind of a complicated one. The disease is genetic, so technically I've had it my whole life. However, scientists believe that something will happen to 'kick it into gear' and you'll become symptomatic. I believe that my celiac 'kicked in' somewhere during high school, because I remember being sick a lot and missing a lot of school. I went to a lot of doctors, and had a lot of tests done, but no one could find anything, so I believed it was just in my head. When I was 21, I had another series of tests done, and this time they found the celiac disease. So I've known about it for a little over 2 years, and that's how long I've been eating gluten-free, if that's what you're asking.
Although I may answer these questions a little snarky and sarcastically, that's only to make light of the situation. I promise that I am always open to questions, and if you ask me any question, I promise to answer with grace and kindness, unless you're just being rude.

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