The attack on gluten allergies.

Note: somewhat angry post follows, including some language that is vulgar, but which I am unable to express in any other format.  Please feel free to skip this post if you find such language unacceptably offensive.  It’s just that I find the current societal approach to gluten allergies to be inexplicably vulgar.

The past few weeks has been replete with this strange phenomenon of attacks on gluten allergies.

Jimmy Kimmel showed that, predictably enough, people who are idiots are idiots.  Jimmy Fallon took an opportunity to create a fake celiac, and then throw a pie in his face.  The New Yorker ran this editorial cartoon:

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 10.51.19 AM

And then there’s this business insider piece that suggests that because a limited group of “self-identified non-celiac gluten sensitive” people are hypochondriacs, that gluten sensitivity does not exist.  And when I say that they suggest this, I’m being kind, because the title of the article is “Researchers Who Provided Key Evidence For Gluten Sensitivity Have Now Thoroughly Shown That It Doesn’t Exist.”


I once saw a person who thought he was having a heart attack, but really, it was just reflux.  From this observation, I can opine that heart disease does not exist, according to the logic of the business insider article.

I just don’t get it.  I don’t get why society thinks that it’s funny to poke fun at a disease.  It’s a fucking disease.  It’s not a choice.  If I could go back to eating pizza and drinking beer tomorrow, do you really think I wouldn’t?  If I could go to Portillos and order a plate full of hotdogs, and savor those poppyseed buns, would I martyr over being gluten sensitive?

It seems like society thinks that it’s ok to make fun of this disease because there are some people doing it as a lifestyle choice.  People don’t choose most diseases, or choose to voluntarily undertake the treatment for most diseases.  Most people wouldn’t voluntarily claim to have a shellfish allergy, for example.  So when a person with a shellfish allergy goes into a restaurant and says, “I’m allergic to shellfish”, the restaurant takes it seriously, and the waitstaff have a mental picture of the customer swelling up and dying on the floor.

But when you go in and say, “I have a gluten allergy”, they don’t know if you’re really allergic, or if you’re just trendy allergic.  And even if you get glutened, you won’t die on their floor.  Heck, they probably won’t even know about it, unless they happen to see you during one of the next three days when you’re in really terrible pain and are crapping your brains out.

If you want to know what being glutened is like, take a read here.  And if you want to know what it’s like to see your kid being glutened, it’s heartbreaking.  If you want to see what it’s like to explain to your daughter why she can’t eat what the other kids are eating, stop by my house some time.  It sucks.  From someone who wants to give his daughter everything, telling her no to simple kid pleasures like jellybeans or ice-cream just flat sucks.  “No honey, you can’t eat that birthday cake.  Mom baked a gluten-free cupcake, just for you.”

If you don’t think it’s real, fuck you. If you think it’s funny to make fun of a disease, fuck you.  If you want to pretend to have a gluten allergy as a lifestyle choice, fuck you.  And if you claim to prepare something as gluten-free but don’t exercise the requisite care to ensure that it actually is, then fuck you in particular.

This is not ok.  It isn’t funny.  It isn’t fair.  It isn’t a choice, nor is it placebo effect.  I don’t understand why it’s ok to make fun of a disease.

Look at the ingredients on the foods that you eat today.  Imagine spending the day having to avoid anything with gluten, any form of wheat, oats and dairy.  Would anyone choose that voluntarily?  How about I follow you around for the day, with a baseball bat.  If I see you eat something that would make me sick, I’ll do a few swings for the fence into your midsection, as a simulated instance of being glutened, and then I’ll hold you down and pour some laxatives down your throat so you can have a few days of the experience.  It’s hilarious, I assure you.


4 thoughts on “The attack on gluten allergies.

  1. Right on! I live in a town where it seems every other person claims a trendy food food sensitivity – sometimes it seems to be part of their identities – and really, it can be obnoxious, but this does nothing to undermine the reality you so aptly describe.

    • “I live in a town where it seems every other person claims a trendy food food sensitivity – sometimes it seems to be part of their identities – and really, it can be obnoxious”

      isn’t this what most people are making jokes about? the (often opinionated/talkative) trendy diet choice people, (much like atkins, vegetarians/vegans, juice cleansers, or crossfitters) and not the actual disease? I understand the frustrations, but much of the anger I would think should be directed towards those who are “trendy dieters” not those confused by who is really sick and who isn’t

      • Why is it funny either way?

        I know people that have shellfish allergies. I also know people that don’t like shellfish. People that don’t like shellfish sometimes order dishes and ask that they be served without shrimp. No one makes fun of people with shellfish allergies because others choose to voluntarily forego shellfish.

        The trendy dieters are at least making gluten free food more readily available (not that I understand the trendy dieting). But either way, why is it funny?

  2. well, it’s not funny in the case of people who don’t like shellfish because they don’t ignorantly drone on and on about how they don’t eat shellfish, and how their life is so much better without shellfish, and how everyone should not eat shellfish because it is so more healthy for you to not.. It IS funny in the case of the groups previously mentioned because that is how many do act, as is depicted in the cartoon. (or in 99% of vegan/veg/crossfit jokes) The jokes are mostly (I would hope always) not about the disease but about the Dr Oz/magic pill/diet of the month idiocy people go “all-in” with because it has become the “cool” thing to do.

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