Do not take food issues personally.
If someone can’t eat something, it’s not personal:
- It isn’t a rejection of your hospitality
- It isn’t an insult to your cooking skills
- It isn’t a comment on your health, your lifestyle, or your diet
It’s also not any of your business:
- Don’t expect an intimate conversation about the reasons behind the food restriction
- Don’t make a big deal about it
- Do not comment about weight loss
- Do not offer unsolicited medical advice
- Do not offer unsolicited health advice
- Or unsolicited religious commentary
- Or your views on vegetarianismAnd especially, don’t do dangerous things:
- Don’t try to trick people into eating things
- Even if you think their food issue is a ridiculous phobia and that tricking them would cure it
- Seriously, seriously, don’t do that
- It won’t help, and this kind of thing can and does kill people
- And, in any case, irrational people also have the right to say no
You do not need to agree that the person is correct about what to eat in order to interact with them respectfully. You just have to arrange for it to be possible for them to be in spaces you’re in, and for it to be predictable whether there will be anything for them to eat there.
Whenever I tell someone I can’t eat something (usually pizza) because it has gluten in it, I tend to get one of three responses:
- “What’s gluten? What’s Celiac?” Etc.
- “Oh yeah! I chose to go gluten-free because of (bullshit they heard on TV or read on the internet)! Why did you choose to do it?”
- “Yeah, I’ve got a sibling/friend/spouse/child who can’t eat gluten.” OR
“I’ve got it too! Celiac high-five!”
If it’s Answer 1, I just explain what Celiac is. If they ask what happens when I eat gluten, I usually make some joke about the obscene amount of shit that explodes out of my ass when I eat it.
The people that use Answer 3 are extra cool and we usually commiserate about dietary restrictions and discuss what kind of shitty gluten-free bread is the best.
It’s the fuckers that use Answer 2 who annoy me. I have the hardest time explaining to them that, no, I didn’t choose to go gluten-free, why the hell would I? They usually say it’s meant to help them lose weight (Incidentally, I’ve never met anyone who used this excuse who actually looked like they needed to lose weight) and that they read gluten is unhealthy for you anyways.
It’s not. Humans have been eating gluten for millennia and it didn’t do anything to them. In fact, after being on a gluten-free diet for a while (6 months, I believe), you lose the ability to digest gluten. Meaning, once you switch back to a normal diet, you gain the symptoms of someone with Celiac who ate gluten; it’s terrible for your intestines. This is according to what Dr. Guandalini, one of the leading Celiac experts in the world told me. A gluten-free diet is low-carb, since it means no bread, but that’s no reason to go gluten-free when you don’t have to.
Every day, I wish I wasn’t gluten-free.
Every day, I hope for a cure during my lifetime, just so I can eat whatever I want again. Yet, I know there won’t be. I will never be able to eat a doughnut again without feeling as if someone stabbed me in the gut for a week. I can’t even lick a fucking envelope closed.
I’m also at a far higher risk of developing diabetes because of my Celiac, meaning I must watch my weight very closely. Thank god my metabolism’s still fast enough that I can eat greasy Mexican food without worrying too much.
So, yeah, I’ll tell anyone who asks about Celiac, and I joke about it all the time, so most of those restrictions don’t apply to me, save for one: “Don’t offer unsolicited health advice” because, so help me God, I will not tolerate it from someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.