What Not To Say To Someone With A Gluten Allergy

Living with an "invisible" health condition can be challenging. The symptoms of the condition are only felt by you, and this makes it difficult for the people around you to relate to it and sometimes even understand it. 

Gluten allergy, more specifically celiac disease, occurs when a person's immune system negatively reacts to a common protein found in wheat, barley, and rye – gluten (via Mayo Clinic). The disease usually affects the person's small intestine, and over time, it can harm the lining of your intestine and lead to malabsorption. Malabsorption, which is essentially difficulty in absorbing nutrients, per John Hopkins Medicine — can lead to more severe complications like fatigue, weight loss, and diarrhea in adults; in children, it also affects their development, per Mayo Clinic. 

Having a gluten allergy would mean having to learn about foods that may contain gluten and avoiding them. In addition to the physical symptoms of a gluten allergy, according to a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, diseases like celiac that affect a person's digestive tract also cause anxiety and depression in the people who have them. If you or someone you know has a gluten allergy, you'd probably know that there are some things people should just not be saying to someone with the condition. 

Don't tell them anything that undermines the seriousness of having a gluten allergy

"I'm sure a little bit won't hurt." This common phrase is something that undermines the seriousness of living with gluten allergy and should definitely not be said to someone who has it (via Robyn's Gluten-free Living). A small bit of gluten can actually be really bad for someone with a gluten allergy, causing serious discomfort, reports Gluten-Free Doll. According to Norma McGough from Coeliac UK, being strict about eating a gluten-free diet is extremely important for people with celiac disease. Speaking with The Telegraph U.K., McGough explains just how careful they should be, even going to the lengths of using different cooking utensils when making food and cleansing cooking spaces often and well.

Comments like "I am gluten-free too but I cheat on weekends" (via The Telegraph U.K.) and "I tried being gluten-free for some time" (via Gluten Free Doll) are also things you should not be saying to someone with gluten allergy. Nutritionist Ian Marber thinks remarks like these only confuse people and further belittle the challenges people with celiac disease have to live with, per The Telegraph U.K.

"You can eat this. I have a friend with gluten allergy who eats it all the time." According to Robyn's Gluten-free Living, this is another comment people should not be saying to someone with a gluten allergy. Spreading misinformation or information you're not 100% sure about causes nothing but trouble. 

How you can support someone with gluten allergy

Instead of making remarks that aren't helpful, why not educate yourself on celiac disease so you can better support your friend or loved one who has to live with a gluten allergy? Give your friend the freedom to make their own choices when it comes to their diet, and just make sure you're there beside them, encouraging them along the way, according to Three Gluten Free Bakers.  

Food is something that brings joy, and when someone has to make restrictions on their diet, this can cause anxiety and sadness; you can do a lot by being understanding and patient at times like these (via Gluten Free Journey). 

Paying attention to your diet and making sure what you consume won't make you sick can feel overwhelming, but perhaps, you can encourage your friend who has gluten allergy by telling them about the positive things that happen to their body when they go gluten-free