Celiacs! Stop Making Excuses For Cheating

Any gluten at all equals 🙁

“I can’t find anything gluten free”, “Gluten free food tastes awful”, “Being gluten free is too expensive”, “Nothing happens when I just eat a tiny but of gluten.” Have you said any of these things? Have you had heard someone say any of these things? Read on..

Recently I’ve been hearing a whole lot of excuses from some celiacs about why they don’t stick strictly to their gluten free diets. I’ve actually had diagnosed celiacs try to make excuses for cheating right to my face. It always annoys and frustrates me. Of course we should all have the right to choose how we live our lives and what we do with our bodies even if we are hurting ourselves but please, if you have celiac disease and you’re planning to stop your gluten free diet or even cheat and eat that muffin you’ve been craving please take 5 minutes to read this. Just give me a few minutes to try to convince you not to do it.

I get really hungry and can’t find anything gluten free to eat. How can you justify eating something which will make you feel so awful when there are so many safe options available. There are thousands of naturally gluten free foods to choose from. If you’re at home you have access to plenty of gluten free food (because why would you buy gluten containing food if you’re celiac?) If you’re out and about you should always be prepared by having some just in case food with you and even if you forgot a gluten free bar this morning picking up something naturally gluten free like fruit or natural yoghurt to keep you going until you find something more substantial is easy.

Nothing will happen if I just eat a little bit of gluten. Not every celiac will get the typical nasty symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, fog and muscle pains when they consume gluten but all celiacs who eat gluten are damaging their bodies. Please do not let yourself be fooled by a lack of symptoms!

Gluten free products taste awful. There may have been some truth in this 20 years ago but nowadays there are plenty of amazing gluten free products out there. Some of the best muffins, cakes, cookies and sandwiches I’ve ever eaten have been gluten free. Get out there and see what the gluten free community have to offer. You will be pleasantly surprised!

But gluten just tastes so good! Seriously? This is not a very good excuse. There are so many gluten free products that you wouldn’t even know were gluten free.

I can’t stop eating carbs. Not all carbs are filled with gluten. Did you know that grains such as rice, polenta, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are naturally gluten free? Additionally, if it’s pasta you miss then you can get gluten free pasta,noodles and spaghetti pretty easily.

It’s too expensive to stay 100% gluten free. Whilst it’s true that many specially made to be gluten free products are often more costly than their glutenous counterparts, eating naturally gluten free isn’t any more expensive. By sticking to naturally gluten free foods such as gluten free grains, eggs, meats, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds you shouldn’t be paying anymore for your weekly groceries than you did before.

No one else I know is celiac. When you are first diagnosed with something so life changing it feels like you’re all alone and that no one understands what you’re going through but there are a whole bunch of people who do and we are the gluten free community. Join Twitter and meet us. We will help and support you in your transition into gluten free life.

I learned too late in life to go 100% gluten free. It’s never too late to make changes to your diet, especially changes which will stop you suffering from all those horrible symptoms. If you are celiac going gluten free will make you feel heathier, younger and you will get your energy back. It’s also likely to add to your life expectancy as your body will no longer be damaging yourself as it was whilst you continued to eat gluten.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Do you know celiacs who cheat? Have you heard similar excuses for not keeping to a gluten free diet? Perhaps you are a celiac who cheats and you don’t agree with what I’m saying? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below..

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  • Owen(GlutenFreeSeattle)

    May 15th, 2012

    Great post! I am starting to really feel bummed about my site – as I’ve reviewed so many places, and yet I haven’t really included how safe each one is for a celiac. I am starting to really acknowledge how unsafe it is for me to eat out at a traditional restaurant even if they have the best intentions of providing a Gluten Free option. This really became evident for me after all of the Domino’s backlash. People are so up in arms, but I really would be surprised if they are nearly as skeptical with the small restaurants providing just a few gluten free options.

  • Thanks, Owen! It’s hard isn’t it. There are more and more places out there which carry a gluten free menu or say they do gluten free options but none of this matters for celiacs unless the restaurant has procedures in place to prevent cross contamination. I’ve eaten in restaurants all over the world…only a handful of which were 100% gluten free and therefore 100% safe. With the rest we need to exercise caution, ask the right questions and be prepared to walk away if we feel as though they aren’t safe. I wonder how many people do though..or how many people just figure it’ll be fine without asking the right questions…

  • As the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Meetup group, I have heard too many excuses to keep track of. One woman actually told me she only eats donuts on Tuesdays and that little bit of gluten was ok. Um, what???

    I admit that I cheated until my early twenties. I was diagnosed at the age of 2.5 so to me cheating was my teenage/early adult rebellion. I worry constantly about what my cheating did to my body growing up. I would NEVER cheat now. I couldn’t physically or mentally handle the repercussions.

  • Great post! I hear things like this all the time. You’re spot on as always. I love reading your blogs and this is such a huge topic. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying I can have a little bit of it, it won’t bother me. Then, well you know what happens. I would never cheat on this, it’s not worth it. 🙂

  • Sound advice. Hopefully it won’t fall on deaf ears. I have a distant cousin who has celiac disease and she is completely half-ass (sorry) about it. But her fiance is about to her leave, because all she does is stay in the house because she feels too crappy to go out. And then on the rare occasions that I see her, she is eating gluten. Not sure if it’s lack of discipline or lack of hope.

  • Owen(GlutenFreeSeattle)

    May 15th, 2012

    Another thing that has been present in my mind – is that with all of this, we are in really uncharted waters. The studies, facts, and everything have a long way to go for all of us to understand just how serious things are – and of course for the allergy to be considered as dangerous as those that have been mainstream for a longer period of time (think peanuts). Gluten Dude has a post about having a lower tolerance for alcohol consumption… I also can get very sick from having just a little too much to drink – and by that I don’t mean binge drinking. Addressing this disease is so new, that in many cases we have to rely on listening to our bodies more than listening to a doctor or reading the news. Its fascinating. People cheat because they aren’t owning the severity, and I think that has part in it being so new.

  • So true! Interestingly, I know a woman who has a gluten allergy (non-Celiac) and would never, ever cheat because she could potentially go into anaphylactic shock and, you know, die. But then I know Celiacs who cheat because they don’t have those severe, immediate reactions! Personally, I never cheat because it makes me feel so awful, but I wouldn’t wish my particular brand of gluten reaction onto anyone.

  • Erin, wow! Donuts on a Tuesday? What do you say to someone who thinks that’s a good idea!? Interesting that you cheated as a teenager. Did you get symptoms when you cheated back then? I feel as though a lot of teenagers would as a rebellion or even just because many of them don’t know any better. Hopefully we can educate them with discussions like this so that all the celiacs out there (kids or adults) who cheat will stop!

  • I completely agree, Owen. I think many celiacs aren’t accepting how serious it is and therefore figure that cheating and eating what they want from time to time is alright. Oh how wrong they are! There is a lot more information out there about celiac than even a few years ago but we definitely have a long way to go before people who aren’t touched by celiac really understand what this disease means.

  • I’m glad to hear there is hope for my teenager. I worry about her. She is completely gluten free at home, but she goes out with friends and gets donuts and bagels. Then of course there are sleepovers where there is ALWAYS pizza. I keep slices of her pizza in the freezer so she can take it with her, but sometimes we run out and it really is expensive to replace. We are very low income, so we don’t ever order pizza for our family. I only get her pizza so she can eat it at other peoples sleepovers. I hope that when she gets older it will get easier!

  • Awesome article – I have to confess that every now and then I will eat some fries for example without asking if they have gluten in them or have been deep fried in the same oil as something with gluten. I figure if I ask I am going to be disappointed that I can’t eat them. However one time more recently I had a rather bad reaction to fries. Reading your article reminds me that it’s not worth the damaging effects this will have on my body in the long run. Might have to get a pack of frozen chips from the supermarket to keep in the freezer which I can cook up next time I am craving fries!

  • Somehow you read my mind. Your responses to all of the typical phrases are exactly what I would say.

    I have a friend who was eating regular oats after going gluten free. She had been feeling a lot better than before being gluten free, but she still felt off and her skin was unhappy. Well, a couple months ago I told her that she should switch her oats. Last weekend we went for a hike, and she thanked me for pointing out the oats to her. She has switched to certified gluten free oats, and she is loving life. Her skin is happy, her body is happy, and her joie de vivre is back. She didn’t make excuses about the expense of switching. If it had been a cost issue then I think she would have just stopped eating oats. There are so many other options. She now knows how good it feels to be completely gluten free.

    However, I know someone else who cheats. She and I both requested some gluten free options at an event we attended. She broke away from what was gluten free and ate some teriyaki chicken. Ugh. I know the options were basically limited to veggie sticks and gluten free crab cakes (not too shabby ones), but she just couldn’t help herself. I don’t think her body has known what it is like to be completely free of gluten.

  • Charmaine, there is definitely hope for your daughter! Hopefully as she grows up she will realise the danger she is putting herself in and will keep to a stricter gluten free diet. I can only imagine the challenge of being celiac as a teenager. I can understand why she does it and perhaps I would have at her age too. Does she get horrible symptoms when she eats pizza and bagels with her friends?

  • Thanks for sharing Petra and Amanda!

    It’s hard because I know people who cheat too and like you say, Amanda, their bodies don’t know what it’s like to be completely gluten free. If they did they wouldn’t cheat! The longer we have been completely gluten free, the worse symptoms are going to be when we do accidentally eat gluten (or at least this has been the case for me) so my hope is that if we can help celiacs to go strictly gluten free then they won’t go back to cheating 😀

  • While eating out last night I got gluten from something. My meal was gluten free, BUT there was some gluten hiding in there somewhere. The pain and everything else that I am dealing with today is not fun. I have a hard understanding why anyone would cheat. Maybe they don’t get as sick as some of us do.

  • Oh, to have a donut Tuesday! I went to the store today and got bagels for my husband to take to work and those bagels live next to the donut display. Have you ever BEEN to a store on a Sunday in the “after church” hours when everyone is buying donuts. I wanted a donut. Badly. But, I’m proud of myself for not only resisting temptation, but for being serious about healing my body. If you talk about your food allergies with people, you would be absolutely surprised by how many people you interact with on a daily basis that deal with the same issues, yet you never knew.

  • I had to give up Gluten and Sugar! I do not cheat! Because I had a dizziness attack from it and I almost fell down a flight of stairs! Now , I detest it! It tried to kill me( literally) So… I would burn it all alive if I could!

  • I personally never cheat because my symptoms are so severe at even the tiniest bit of gluten. However, I know a girl who has Celiac who I will see take a sip of beer or eat gluten. I have never understood! Her symptoms aren’t nearly as severe, but still I can’t imagine the pain her body must be going through on the inside. This is a great article. Thank you for posting!

  • Thanks for your response Laura. Her worst symptom is mood swings, and of course you can’t TELL her she’s being moody or why, because it only makes it worse! We are lucky in a way because she does not have stomache issues, although I think it is also a curse because it makes cheating easier.

  • I’m a year late to the part here, but wanted to comment! When I initially went gluten free, I made it about 6 months. I honestly thought that I was “healed” after that and I didn’t have to do it anymore. I allowed myself to eat gluten free half of the time and not the other. Sadly, it took me too long to realize that I was hurting myself the whole time. My symptoms got worse and I struggled. I ended up on your blog today because I was accidentally glutened last night and was looking for some advice. I’m now gluten free forever and know that I can’t cheat at all – and that’s ok!

    Thanks for a great blog 🙂