When you maintain a gluten-free lifestyle, one of the most frustrating things is the misconception or confusion that others have toward the gluten-free diet and all that comes with it. Whether it is negative comments about how horrible a gluten-free life must be, or a misunderstanding of the foods we can and cannot eat, we are faced with uninformed people almost every day. Sometimes it is very difficult to respond to these negative or uneducated comments. You might want to say a snide remark to someone that judges the diet incorrectly, or just do a face-palm every time someone relates gluten-free to glucose.
Take advice from someone who has responded to pretty much every gluten-free question in the book: Try not to be snotty toward people, even if they seem to be insulting your entire lifestyle. Doing so will only bring you down to their level and won’t allow you to spread the awareness that is needed. Instead, try to have easy-to-understand bullet point facts that will be useful when answering people’s questions about the gluten-free diet.
Gluten-Free Elevator Pitch
I have come up with a gluten-free elevator pitch that I tend to rattle off to people when I’m asked questions about the diet. It goes a little something like this:
Gluten is a binding protein found in wheat, barley, rye, malt, and triticale. Since I’m gluten-free, I can’t eat traditional breads, pastas, cereals, or beer, among other things. If I do ingest foods with gluten, I get intense stomach pains and have to make several trips to the bathroom. Others that have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity might experience different reactions such as vomiting, skin reactions, headaches, or joint pain.
If the person asks further questions regarding the gluten-free diet, I usually add this info at some point as well:
There are also other issues I must worry about such as cross-contamination. I have to be sure that my food does not come into contact with gluten because I may get very ill from that as well. I don’t know just how sick that “little bit of gluten” would make me, but I try to be careful so I don’t have to find out! I also have to keep an eye out for different sauces and seasonings that might have gluten in them.
Then I try to end the speech with positivity. I am always sure to let the person inquiring about the diet know that I am not starving to gluten-free death, and I actually enjoy the food I eat:
Even though I have to be careful about the foods I eat, and I can’t just go to any restaurant like you can, I never feel like I’m missing out. I make all of the foods I crave at home, and I even eat bread on a daily basis, it just happens to be gluten-free. I don’t look at this diet as a curse because it has helped me to spread my wings and try different foods, ultimately making me healthier.
It is important to remember each person that asks you questions about the gluten-free diet (no matter how idiotic some of them may seem), is someone that you have a chance to educate. So the next time you respond to someone asking a gluten-free question, try to be as informative as possible. People don’t realize that this “dietary restriction” is not an actual restriction if you’re positive, try new foods, and commit to the gluten-free lifestyle.
Do you have a go-to gluten-free explanation? What are the facts that you share with others?
Stay tuned to the Taste Guru Magazine for weekly posts written by G-Free Laura. With a young, wild, and gluten-free attitude, Laura Hanley writes about the gluten-free diet in terms that are both entertaining and easily relatable.
Laura has been gluten free since 2009 and reviews products, restaurants, posts simple recipes, and writes about gluten-free experiences at www.gfreelaura.com. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.