Friday, April 24, 2015

Gluten-Free FAQs

With Halloween nearly behind us, it's time to start thinking of the next few holidays around the corner—and there are some big ones! Next up, we have everyone's favorite gathering time, Thanksgiving, which ushers in a seemingly endless array of parties, dinners, work events, FRIENDSgivings, and other social gatherings, with food and drink being at the center of most of these shindigs. So, if you are like me and gluten-free, you may understandably feel some trepidation about RSVPing to social events this time of year.

Fortunately, there is much to be thankful for this season when it comes to living a gluten-free lifestyle. There is growing awareness and acceptance of gluten sensitivity and intolerance, and gluten-free options are readily available at most restaurants and in the aisles of most grocery stores. But perhaps one of the "final frontiers" to conquer in the gluten-free journey is interacting with those people who are not fully aware or respectful of their gluten-free peers. And you are certainly bound to run into a few of them this holiday season as you venture outside your familiar circle of friends and family who understand your gluten-free lifestyle.

For example, I bet many of you have engaged in the following all-too-familiar conversation at a social event: “I’m gluten free.” “Oh! No kidding?! [Insert possibly insensitive comment / question / assumption here].”

So, rest assured, awkward exchanges are bound to happen, but it doesn't need to keep you from enjoying all this season has to offer. With a little prep and a steely sense of humor, you can conquer those sure-to-come potentially awkward scenarios. To help you, here is my list of the 5 conversations you're bound to have this holiday season, and the savvy response you can have on-hand to help stave off any cringe-worthy silences—and hopefully provide some education to others about being gluten-free.

Without further ado…

5. “Man, I’d kill myself if I couldn’t have pizza!”
What I say: “Yeah, I miss things like pizza and cake, but cutting them out is so much easier than dealing with the alternatives – and a lot of those aren’t even digestive issues. There are some delicious gluten-free recipes for pizza, too!”

4. “I know you’re gluten-free, but you can cheat every once in a while, right?”
What I say: “Unfortunately, no. But adopting a gluten-free lifestyle, either by choice or not, is like being committed to anything else that’s rewarding: the pros really outweigh the cons.”

3. “That’s too bad. All gluten-free stuff is horrible.”
What I say: “Not really! Thanks to increased gluten awareness, there are a ton of great gluten-free foods out there to choose from.”

2. “We’re all going out to eat tonight. Do you have things to eat here?”
What I say: “I’m fine eating out. Being gluten free doesn’t mean being fun free or burdensome, and I’ve learned to watch my food and its ingredients carefully. And most places now have decent gluten-free menus, anyway.”

1. “Isn’t there a drug you can take for this, so you don’t have to follow such a strict diet?”
What I say: “Unfortunately, right now the only treatment for gluten sensitivity is a gluten-free diet. There are no approved drugs for the condition, but with 3 million Americans suffering from celiac disease and 18 million affected by gluten sensitivity, that may change in the near future!

Happy chit-chatting! And obviously, there are things out there you and I don’t fully understand, either. People who may say things like the above to you could be as familiar with gluten as we are with rocket science or brain surgery. So, stay patient and view their questions as an opportunity to educate on what it means to be gluten-free!

For more information on, and perhaps a more humorous approach to this topic, check out these sites:

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