Is this (junk food) gluten free?

Okay….I (like many of you), am a member of various gluten-free pages.  I like that celiacs, in general, have a great sense of community and a wonderful willingness to help others out.  Let’s face it:  for being a bunch of strangers, we’re a pretty tight bunch!  I have to be blunt here, however:  Sometimes I wish I could just kick people off of certain pages…and it all comes down to the inevitable moment where one individual posts a question asking whether SOMETHING (insert random food item) is gluten free or not.

Now, it isn’t the question that gets my goat.  (although sometimes someone will post something that CLEARLY lists about 20 different forms of gluten in it on the ingredients, which I know because they tend to also post a photo of the ingredient list, and I wonder how on earth they ever heard of gluten and never made it to the “wheat, barley, rye, etc… part….but that is another story…I digress….)

What really annoys me is that, inevitably, someone will just HAVE to point out that the particular food/beverage they are asking about is (wait for it….) “OMG – is NOT a health food!” and sometimes is “FULL of sugar and all sorts of processed things!”


This then leads to some defensive posturing in the third person about how they just can’t see how “someone” could possibly be concerned about “gluten” and NOT be concerned about being “healthy”?!

This is where I wish I could reach through my computer screen and smack them for being the selfish a-holes they are. And yes, I mean that.  Why am I so offended by people supposedly wanting others to be “healthy”?  (as if it were all about health-altruism….)  Because it has NOTHING to do with them actually wanting to help others.  It tells me quite clearly that they lack the ability to see a problem from a perspective other than their own…but are more than willing to pass judgement anyway.  That makes it all about them.

So, for those high-and-mighty folks who just can’t seem to fathom why someone would ask if a certain candy or junky breakfast cereal is gluten free or not, allow me to enlighten you:

It probably hasn’t occurred to you, but for your information: everyone in the world who is gluten free didn’t go GF for the exact same reasons you did.  That’s right: some people didn’t decide to “go gluten free” because of some fad or because they think it is some sort of health-food diet. You might be surprised to know that many people I know are gluten-free because their lives depend on it. Not to lose weight, or because they are practicing some fringe form of veganism…..but because they medically are required NOT to ingest any amount of gluten.

And with that prohibition comes a TON of psychological needs that have NOTHING to do with maintaining a certain waist-line, and EVERYTHING to do with being healthy as a whole person…and sometimes that means eating “junk” food, because sometimes being healthy psychologically takes a front seat to eating in a strictly nutritionally health way.

That’s right.  While you are praising your GF willpower and basking in your know-it-all glory, you are failing to realize that sometimes people are asking for reasons that have NOTHING to do with YOUR priorities.

They might be asking because their child’s class is passing out Valentine’s cards and they need to know what treats are okay for their child to eat safely.

They might be asking because their 10-year old has never had a non-grown-up cereal and wants to see what the fuss is about.

They might be asking because they are trying to recreate a homemade version of a Happy Meal, as their child will NEVER get to have one in their life otherwise.

They might be asking for nostalgia, because they just plain miss something that they used to have and are not allowed to ever have again.

Whatever the reason, understand that having a little bit of junk food now and then (provided it is GF) might be what they need at the moment….  Not as a part of a balanced diet, but because being healthy is more than what you put into your body…it is about how you FEEL as a human being.  And sometimes feeling isolated and completely alone feels worse than the physical pain that often accompanies this disease, and certainly worse than an extra pound or two.

To be honest, I am just glad they are fulfilling that need in a way that is still gluten free…. shouldn’t we actually be supporting them, rather than criticizing their inquiries?

And to carry that honesty a bit further, I’m going to guess that your judgmental GFy-ness probably doesn’t extend to 100% strict adherence, nor to always looking out for cross contamination, so I have to ask where you get off….?  …..thinking you can judge someone for not eating “healthy”, when odds are you and your “fad-GF” are one of the reasons they can’t trust eating out safely?  …and that the consequences of THAT have a far greater impact on their health than a few M&Ms could ever have.

So, next time you want to judge a celiac for asking if Reese’s Pieces are GF, take this advice: Just shut up.  Congrats to you and your incredible will-power to be uber healthy in all that you do in life – good for you!  (really!)    …but good for them, too.

Look, I’m not advocating for an all sugar-cane diet.  But I am asking you to look beyond the narrow lens with which you see the world.

Odds are that the person you are dying to be rude to will be leading a gluten free life for far longer than you ever will.  I’m just hoping it is a happy one.  (and shouldn’t you just be hoping that, too?)

About AccidentalCeliac

I am an architect living in Minneapolis who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I also am a mother of two children, one of whom has Celiac Disease, as well. This blog is about all things related to navigating the many terrains of gluten-free living. I hope to share tips and experiences, post news and fun ideas, vent a little, and share anything else that has to do with this lifestyle that so many people are now living with.

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