This Isn’t a Joke
You’ve probably seen the onslaught of gluten-free jokes in popular culture. Between Jimmy Kimmel convincing the world that gluten-free people don’t actually know what gluten is and Charlize Theron proclaiming gluten-free is “BS,” there’s recently been a lot of negativity toward gluten-free eaters.
Part of why I wake up grumpy is because I get sucked into the comment sections of all of the articles that mock gluten-free living, celiac disease, etc. The comment section is a terrifying place to visit. These people do not like us (those who eat differently). When there’s an article bashing gluten or gluten-free living, they’re right there with the author. They usually tout anecdotal evidence – their friend’s sister claimed to have a gluten issue but then started eating bread again and didn’t die. Or worse…they’ve tricked their friends into eating gluten to see if they would really get sick from it. Who does that? What type of friends are these people? Would they ever do that to someone who claimed to have diabetes?
People say that we “gluten-free activists” are just too sensitive when someone cracks a joke about gluten-free living. So why does this matter to me? And why should this matter to us? Think about the audiences in these talk shows, the ones that cackle, hoot and holler when someone says “gluten-free is BS.” These are our family members, our friends, our doctors, our newsmakers and shakers, our pharmacists, our servers and restaurant managers. When they’re told over and over again that our diet is just a trendy waste of time, how do you think they’ll look at us the next time we ask for accommodation? When we are a joke, we’re less apt to be taken seriously by those who really need to do so.
As a celiac, I spend time on the comment sections because I want to educate and advocate. My job is to inform the guy who calls non-celiac gluten sensitivity “special snowflake syndrome,” that the gluten-free diet is, literally, a new life for those who really need it. Education is the way to combat harsh words and nastiness. The more people know about celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the more they will understand why we order what we do at a restaurant and that we’re not just picky eaters. Let’s talk about the science and share the facts. Let’s remind people that we’re not a trend. We are not a joke. We’re serious--and this is no laughing matter.