In the last couple years, the quantity of gluten-free products on the market has skyrocketed. While “going out to eat” always used to mean a salad, my boyfriend and others with celiac disease are now able to happily devour burgers made on gluten-free buns from Uno Pizzeria & Grill, meat lover’s pizzas made on gluten-free pizza crusts from Papa Gino’s and much more. The day Cheerios announced they were going gluten-free is practically marked on our calendar.
When it comes to working out, sometimes those that are gluten-free actually have a natural advantage! Having celiac disease often means having to be more health-conscious. My boyfriend says eating healthy comes more easily to him now than it ever did before, because the majority of what he can eat is healthy already—meats, veggies and fruit! He used to struggle to find protein supplements, powders and shakes that didn’t make him too sick to even get to the gym. Who knew so many vitamins were made with hidden gluten? Now, he is able to get just about everything he needs online or at GNC, which continues to update its inventory.
As a gluten-consumer living in such close quarters with someone gluten-free, I’ve learned a lot. I keep my kitchen cleaner than ever and do my best to be more inclusive when serving food for others. I open the discussion for others to mention their dietary restrictions (and trust me, you’d be surprised how many people you know who haven’t told you that they are gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, lactose intolerant or other various combinations of intolerances and allergies). When my boyfriend is “glutened” (as we say when he accidentally ingests it, usually through cross-contamination), it is painful to watch and not be able to do anything. The last thing I would want to do is accidentally “poison” someone I know because they didn’t feel comfortable inquiring whether there an ingredient was present.
One day, my boyfriend came home from work starving. His company told its employees that lunch would be provided and not to bring their own. Their surprise lunch? Pizza and pasta. It’s most likely that whoever ordered simply didn’t realize that there may be someone in attendance who literally can’t consume either of those options without serious physical side effects (sometimes serious enough to cause fainting, vomiting and trips to the ER.) My first instinct was to say, “You should have told them!” But he didn’t want to be that guy. He quietly excused himself from lunch and waited to come home to eat. And I’m not sure I can blame him. Nobody wants to look ungrateful or seem like they expect the world to revolve around them.
On the one hand, his company may have said: That’s too bad. But from everything he and I have been through so far, what it comes down to is usually just not knowing. So talk about it! A dietary restriction is not the end! My boyfriend started this journey seeing only two small products emblazoned with GLUTEN-FREE behind a single freezer door in a single aisle at the grocery store. We’ve got a long way to go, but look how far we’ve come!