Not That Much Gluten
January 29, 2014

Not That Much Gluten

Since I have started eating a gluten-free diet for my health, I have run into many questions from those around me. Some wonder why I have chosen to do it, while others wonder if it is even necessary. As a newly committed gluten-free girl, I wanted to give some advice to those who have gluten-free friends, family, co-workers, or acquaintances in their lives.

First of all, even a little bit of gluten can have a big impact. For some, that impact means serious gut issues. Others suffer from major fatigue, headaches, migraines, and just general malaise. Still others have different reactions including depression. So, telling someone who is gluten free for health reasons that “there’s just a little bit of gluten in there” or “there’s not that much flour” is really quite insensitive. Sure, a little bit of gluten does not affect you, but for those of us who have reactions, even a little bit can put us down for days and even have greater, longer lasting impacts than just the temporary. Basically, I am not trying to convert others to a gluten-free lifestyle, so please be respectful and do not try to make me eat something with gluten in it, even if it is just a little bit

Secondly, if you are hosting someone who is gluten free for a party with snacks or a meal, ask that person to bring something gluten free. Most of us who are gluten free are more than willing to bring foods we can eat, so do not hesitate to ask. I know that I do not like burdening others with my health issues, so I delight in bringing foods that I know I can eat and enjoy so that others do not have to say to me, “there’s only a little bit of gluten in there.” If I bring gluten- free dishes, then I, too, can enjoy the meal. Plus, I will have the opportunity to show my loved ones that gluten-free foods also can be delicious.

Third, I have had many people tell me that the gluten-free craze is suspicious. Okay, I get that. Really. However, I would not partake in eating gluten free if I did not feel better. In fact, I feel good, which is something I could not say before choosing a gluten-free lifestyle. If I feel better, then I am going to continue eating a gluten-free diet because what we eat affects how we feel. I know I am healthier now that I do not eat gluten-rich foods. Perhaps a little bit of trust in me (or your gluten-free loved one) is deserved

Fourth, gluten is not just found in wheat. Gluten comes from wheat, barley, and rye, so foods with any of these or any combination of these are out for those who eat gluten-free diets. This is why you see your gluten-free loved one carefully reading all labels. This is also why we ask what is in the meal. We are not trying to be nosy or critical; we simply need to know in order to stay healthy and safe. It is annoying for us, too. Believe me.

Finally, eating gluten free is not easy. It demands much of me, and temptations surround me everywhere I go. I do not ask that my loved ones deprive themselves of their favorite gluten-rich foods; however, I cannot. This does not mean that I am ungrateful or antisocial or whatever. It simply means that I cannot eat the foods that most of friends and family can. I will adapt. I will find food I can eat. Don’t worry.

Anytime someone chooses a less-than-conventional dietary lifestyle, people will question and criticize it. And if a person happens to have two such diets, then that doubles the criticism. However, I think it is also important to remember to respect our loved ones’ choices. This blog article focused on the gluten-free lifestyle, but really I could replace gluten free with paleo diet, vegetarian, meat and potatoes, or any dietary choice and the advice still rings true. Whatever our food choices, let’s respect and trust each other. I am going to try to be more sensitive myself. I hope others will as well.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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