Today marks the start of Coeliac Disease Awareness Week. It’s an important week because the disease is so often confused with milder intolerances or fad diets, and many people don’t fully understand how serious it actually is.
In case you’re not fully aware, it’s a digestive condition where the small intestine can’t absorb nutrients properly.
This leads to sharp abdominal pain and bloating, as well as various other nasty side-effects like diarrhoea and fatigue. It’s caused by gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye.
Due to this lack of understanding around the disease, sufferers hear the same annoying things time and time again.
Here are the common phrases that will make all coeliacs roll their eyes.
1. “Yeah, I’ve given up bread too.”
Sorry, but doing a no carbs before Marbs diet isn’t quite the same as having a horrible disease.
2. “Can’t you just have a little bit?”
People getting confused between coeliac disease and mild gluten intolerances or lifestyle choices is one of the most irritating things – unfortunately, even a little bit of wheat will send our stomachs into worlds of pain and has potentially long-term damage.
3. “Oooh, I tried that once.”
Again, it’s not a fad diet – it’s a disease.
4. “Why won’t you have a beer?”
We’re not trying to be a party pooper – unfortunately beer contains gluten, so we’re going to stick to cider if that’s cool.
5. “Being a coeliac basically means you can’t eat bread and pasta, right?”
Sigh – we wish. There’s a crazy amount of food that has gluten hidden in it, from the random to the downright annoying. Things like soy sauce, many condiments, a lot of processed foods and even some shampoos are a no-go for us.
6. “The cavemen didn’t have coeliac disease, so why do we?”
It’s not some big conspiracy dreamt up by modern medicine – instead, it’s a product of the modern diet. Cavemen tended to just eat vegetables, fruit, nuts and some meat, so they were fine. Plus, it’s only recently that the condition became better understood – in the past it was often misdiagnosed as other things.
7. “Isn’t gluten-free food super expensive?”
Yep, it is. And it sucks.
8. “Did you lose loads of weight when you went gluten-free?”
None. Of. Your. Business. And also I’m GF for my health, not my waistline.
9. “Will you grow out of it?”
I’d love to, but soz, this one’s a lifelong condition.
10. “Isn’t there a pill you can take or something?”
Do you think I’d be eating gluten-free bread if there was an easy cure?
11. “Your gluten-free food touched my gluten-full food. Is that okay?”
Unfortunately no – cross-contamination is a big problem for coeliacs, and we have to avoid it as much as we can. And yes, this means being a very irritating dinner guest (sorry guys).
12. “Isn’t coeliac a root vegetable?”
Nah, that’s celeriac. But good try.