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Coping With Uninformed People


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#1 JaniceS

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 05:06 AM

I don't know if anyone else has come across this, but I am sure you all have at one point: People who have no idea what it means when you ask them "Do you know if there is Gluten in this?" or understand what it means when you say you are "Gluten Free". I am a recent new addition to the gluten-free community and just yesterday went to a company picnic where it was catered by a local business and we picnicers could bring dishes if we would like. I brought a gluten-free smore's pie and put a little sign "Gluten Free" in front of it, and luckily I'd called ahead to the place catering and asked if they had anything gluten free, and the lady was quite well informed and said that everything had the risk of being contaminated and that even their corn tortillas had a little flour added into the mix and that their fajita meat was marinated in a sauce containing soy sauce. So, I planned ahead and packed myself a little gluten-free lunch (gluten-free BLT, chips and some cookies) and brought it with me. The lunch starts and I sit down at a table and pull out my little lunch and someone asked where I found the BLT and I told her that I'd brought it from home because I had a gluten intollerance and had to be careful what I ate and she said "Oh you can't eat sugar?" and I replied "No gluten is in wheat, barly, rye and stuff, so I have to be careful about what I eat." and she looked at my food and said "Oh but you can have bread and cookies?", perhaps she came off ruder sounding than intended (or it was my imagination), but I told her that I buy specially made products that contain no gluten and she just kind of said "oh" and walked off.

A little later into the picnic I was finished eating while everyone else was still munching and I got several comments about how I should still be eating, and few of them even suggesting I need to eat more because I am "soooo thin". (I had significant weight loss, but once everything heals I hope to gain weight!) I tried to say okay as best as possible and joined my family at our table (families were invited). Then another person who was eating my gluten-free pie SPIT IT OUT because the graham crackers tasted "funny" and she proceeded to tell me that I used stale crackers in my pie. I tried to tell her that they are gluten free so the taste might be a little different than most people are use to (however I have no problem with the taste, whatsoever.) and she replied "Oh, didn't realise you were one of those organic health nuts." and litterally stormed away.

I was quickly feeling like the odd one out (doesn't help I've only been gluten-free for 2-3 weeks...) but what was worst was that I overheard a few of my co-workers talking about how they didn't like my new "arrogant" diet, as if I needed to lose weight. People really shouldn't talk so loudly... anyway, I asked if I could leave early and that I wasn't feeling well and I took today off. I know I shouldn't have but I am so embarassed and I don't know what to do. Print out Celiac and Gluten Intollerant fliers and say "THIS IS REAL!"? (haha)

Someone help, the change in diet isn't all rainbows and butterflies and the attitude of some people is just astonishing! I guess I just really needed a place to express myself, this transition is tough.
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#2 mommida

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:20 AM

That's why I usually tell new people "You will find out who your friends are" or if some people just aren't friend worthy.
Running into this kind of ignorance really had me concerned about my kids. I did keep my daughter out of 3 year-old pre-school because I knew she had to have enough confidence to tell adults NO. I made sure she could explain why she could not eat it it and if there were any further problems to call me.

Reminds me of the time this one lady scarfed down 3 gluten free muffins and spit out the 4th when she found out it was gluten free. ???

As if it isn't hard enough making so many changes, we have to take the blinders off and see how ignorance and self centered personalities all around us.
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#3 srall

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:26 AM

Your post made me laugh a little, even though I can totally understand and sympathize with your frustration. Most people here in Minneapolis are getting the gluten free thing, but I constantly overhear people talking about the "new fad" in a scoffing manner. Oh well....I can't worry about that. I've got too many other things to worry about like preparing every dang meal from scratch for my family to make sure we're safe.
I have found that what works best for me is to downplay everything and just try and not draw attention to what or how I'm eating so I avoid the sort of stupid comments you had to endure, but last Christmas my husband and I were at a party where I'd eaten before-hand, and I was attacked by a couple of women for not eating the food and that I needed to put some meat on my bones....and did I have an eating disorder. I was surprised (in a good way) that one of my best friends who was standing next to me, just smiled and kept her mouth shut. I guess she (rightly) decided that my health concerns were private and graciously did not out me.
Hang in there...don't worry about having to defend yourself. We all understand.
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#4 GlutenFreeManna

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:50 AM

I don't know if anyone else has come across this, but I am sure you all have at one point: People who have no idea what it means when you ask them "Do you know if there is Gluten in this?" or understand what it means when you say you are "Gluten Free". I am a recent new addition to the gluten-free community and just yesterday went to a company picnic where it was catered by a local business and we picnicers could bring dishes if we would like. I brought a gluten-free smore's pie and put a little sign "Gluten Free" in front of it, and luckily I'd called ahead to the place catering and asked if they had anything gluten free, and the lady was quite well informed and said that everything had the risk of being contaminated and that even their corn tortillas had a little flour added into the mix and that their fajita meat was marinated in a sauce containing soy sauce. So, I planned ahead and packed myself a little gluten-free lunch (gluten-free BLT, chips and some cookies) and brought it with me. The lunch starts and I sit down at a table and pull out my little lunch and someone asked where I found the BLT and I told her that I'd brought it from home because I had a gluten intollerance and had to be careful what I ate and she said "Oh you can't eat sugar?" and I replied "No gluten is in wheat, barly, rye and stuff, so I have to be careful about what I eat." and she looked at my food and said "Oh but you can have bread and cookies?", perhaps she came off ruder sounding than intended (or it was my imagination), but I told her that I buy specially made products that contain no gluten and she just kind of said "oh" and walked off.


I have seen this confusion before. She was thinking of glucose, not gluten. She was a little rude but perhaps she had just never heard of gluten before and didn't want to ask more questions and sound MORE ignorant than she already was.


A little later into the picnic I was finished eating while everyone else was still munching and I got several comments about how I should still be eating, and few of them even suggesting I need to eat more because I am "soooo thin". (I had significant weight loss, but once everything heals I hope to gain weight!) I tried to say okay as best as possible and joined my family at our table (families were invited). Then another person who was eating my gluten-free pie SPIT IT OUT because the graham crackers tasted "funny" and she proceeded to tell me that I used stale crackers in my pie. I tried to tell her that they are gluten free so the taste might be a little different than most people are use to (however I have no problem with the taste, whatsoever.) and she replied "Oh, didn't realise you were one of those organic health nuts." and litterally stormed away.


These people are just RUDE! Making comments about your weight and your pie would be off the charts rude even if you didn't have celiac disease.

I was quickly feeling like the odd one out (doesn't help I've only been gluten-free for 2-3 weeks...) but what was worst was that I overheard a few of my co-workers talking about how they didn't like my new "arrogant" diet, as if I needed to lose weight. People really shouldn't talk so loudly... anyway, I asked if I could leave early and that I wasn't feeling well and I took today off. I know I shouldn't have but I am so embarassed and I don't know what to do. Print out Celiac and Gluten Intollerant fliers and say "THIS IS REAL!"? (haha)

Someone help, the change in diet isn't all rainbows and butterflies and the attitude of some people is just astonishing! I guess I just really needed a place to express myself, this transition is tough.


It doesn't sound like these people are your friends at all. I would not tell them anything unless they ask more questions and seem genuinely interested in learnign about it. They are not going to becoem informed about celiac disease unless they are interested in knowing. Perhaps next time they offer you food however you could phrase your response in such a way to make it clear this is not a FAD diet but is medically required. Perhaps say, "No thanks, my dr is worried anbout my high antibodies and has ordered me to follow a strict gluten-free diet." Perhap a little dramatic sounding but it's the truth and maybe they would get that you are not choosing to do this diet for the fun of it.
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#5 Takala

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:07 AM

This is where it helps to be somewhat either self assured or arrogant yourself, depending on what sort of people you are dealing with.

Also, I assume in casual atmospheres that NOBODY will understand what I am saying. This means I must be succinct, short, clear, and precise. I don't say "I can't eat gluten." 99% of people have no idea what it is, and do not understand the word. I say I have a food allergy and packed my own (lunch, dinner) so I won't get sick. This is technically true, I do have other allergies, and it gets the point across without having to cite a lot of data at them.

My husband does some public speaking and is very observant, so when we've eaten out at restaurants offering a gluten free menu, he and I are also working together to see how and what works best and what different words to use. He's also still eating regular food at lunch, so he's a good guinea pig to test out recipes on if I'm taking something somewhere. Many of the next, younger generation did not grow up cooking, did not suffer thru home ec classes, nor did they learn as adults, nor have any restaurant experience, so they have no idea what is really in food, and they just expect food to be cooked by somebody else and served to them, and they don't care what is in it. Many of them are not trying to deliberately aggravate you. They just don't know. You may be able to explain it to them. It's the older adults who are the ones who missed the basic etiquette response of don't harangue people with food allergies or intolerances, who are quietly eating their own food.

The purists here might shudder. If I am getting queried by somebody who actually has hearing skills above that of a 3rd grader, I might say I'm avoiding wheat proteins because it triggers an auto immune response and I don't want to get sick. Then their eyes glaze over, and I can change the subject.

I'm not thin, and my physical responses are neurological and arthritic flares, not the other issues, so the only peeps that get it are the ones who may be really sharp, or have another friend or relative or family member with a food problem, and they are cool. I've also run into some people who immediately "got" this. Cherish those moments !

I don't care otherwise what they think about what I may or not be eating. Chances are some of them are on some sort of whacked out cabbage soup or grapefruit weight- loss diet, and haven't eaten a vegetable today and have no intention of doing so, and they go thru the drive- thru window for dinner, often. Whatever.
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#6 SarahJimMarcy

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 07:13 AM

It's really amazing the lack of understanding. It's my 13-year-old daughter who has celiac. We gave a letter written by the GI clinic to each one of her teachers. Yet, on the last day of school, when they were all having cookies and doughnuts, the teacher insisted that the doughnuts were gluten free and that my daughter could/should have one. Luckily, my daughter is better informed than the teacher.

I like the idea of just downplaying it all, rather than explaining. You can explain, explain and explain and still people will not get it.

We are in the Minneapolis area, too. People are generally nice and we have experienced lack of understanding but not the outright rudeness of someone spitting out food!

Janice - just to give you a little laugh: Even my husband can't get it right. He invented the word "gluctose" which I think means "gluten" but he keeps mixing it up with "glucose". And he's better informed than most!
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Daughter diagnosed with celiac via endoscopy, April, 2011.
Mom, Dad and daughter all go gluten free.
We live in the Twin Cities, MN.

#7 WinterSong

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 08:03 AM

I can understand your frustration. It sucks that people either don't know what it is or refuse to accept how serious things like crumbs or using the same fork can be.

I normally get people who mean well but don't understand, so I'm really polite with them. Like a woman trying to offer me a pie-type dessert who said, "You could just eat around the crust."

Then again there is one jerk who always who keeps offering me things like fried chicken and mini bagels. He asked me the other day, "Are you eating glucose yet?" :angry: So annoying.
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Diagnosed with IBS - Fall 2007

Diagnosed with Celiac via blood test (tTg off the charts) - March 18th, 2011

Gluten free as of March 25th, 2011 and going strong!

Positive biopsy April 1st, 2011

 

Blood test results back down to normal levels November 2012


#8 tarnalberry

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 08:05 AM

While I don't have a biopsy diagnosis, I simply say "I can't eat gluten, it will make me quite ill." If they go any farther, I add "It's an autoimmune disease that damages my intestines so I can't absorb nutrients." They usually shut up, even if they think I"m still being a PITA. :P
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Inconclusive Blood Tests, Positive Dietary Results, No Endoscopy
G.F. - September 2003; C.F. - July 2004
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Bellevue, WA

#9 kareng

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 09:00 AM

Some people know what Celiac is but for those that don't I say that wheat makes a hole in my intestines.

I have found that the teenagers are better accepting or have more understanding of the basics. They have all had kids in school allergic to foods so they just take it in stride. When someone asks how I can eat my bread, I just say that its made with rice flour.

My oldest is not gluten-free. For his 18th birthday, he wanted the gluten-free chocolate cupcakes I make. His friends eat them up. My 15 year old said that teenagers don't care if its made with rice flour or dirt, as long as it tastes good.
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#10 RL2011

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 09:21 AM

JaniceS,

First of all don't get discouraged by other people. You will forever have to deal with ignorant people. Just be firm, straightforward and clearly state your thoughts. I determine who to speak with in a normal manner and I tend to go a little over board and intimidate ignorant people. This comes from managing large groups of employees both individually and as a group and trying to get others to do things my way.

My only advice to you is to learn the best way to get your point across about your dietary needs and learn how to modify the ignorant behavior and the stupid responses you will always get from others.

I said it before here on this forum, don't let any walk on you (verbally) or control your feeling by stupid stuff they say. You are the king/queen of your emotional hill and you alone control who you let knock you off your emotional hill.

Now go out there and kick some gluten in the a$...
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#11 Jungle

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 10:16 AM

I always tell the truth. "I can't eat that....because I have Celiacs Disease. When I eat gluten my body starts to attack itself."

And to answer "Can't you just have a little or can't you eat around the crust/scrape it off?" I answer that any gluten I eat is doing damage and 10 years from now if I get cancer from this I'll wonder "Was it because I had that doughnut or because I didn't take it serious enough? I'd rather try my best to be as healthy as possible and not have to worry about complications as I get older."

I find if you present a strong front although they may not understand and poke fun behind your back, they won't challenge you to your face.
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#12 Mummyto3

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 11:10 AM

Someone hubby works with has said, after hearing of diagnosis, 'oh, I thought it was something serious'.

I have to just remember that not everyone understands, that it is serious. Untreated coeliac can lead to serious health problems. There needs to be more awareness of this out there to educate people :(
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#13 notme!

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 12:10 PM

JaniceS,

First of all don't get discouraged by other people. You will forever have to deal with ignorant people. Just be firm, straightforward and clearly state your thoughts. I determine who to speak with in a normal manner and I tend to go a little over board and intimidate ignorant people. This comes from managing large groups of employees both individually and as a group and trying to get others to do things my way.

My only advice to you is to learn the best way to get your point across about your dietary needs and learn how to modify the ignorant behavior and the stupid responses you will always get from others.

I said it before here on this forum, don't let any walk on you (verbally) or control your feeling by stupid stuff they say. You are the king/queen of your emotional hill and you alone control who you let knock you off your emotional hill.

Now go out there and kick some gluten in the a$...


lol! go rich! you and i are of the same mind - i will explain all day long to people who actually are interested. but to have to answer the same ignorant questions over and over makes me kind of get in their face a little: NOOOOOO. (direct stare) I'M. NOT. EATING. THAT. to the lesser importants: eeeew!! gross!!! get that stuff away from me!! i keep thinking that *maybee* someday these dorks will stop asking me questions, but everywhere you go, there they are...... :/
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#14 RL2011

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 12:27 PM

lol! go rich! you and i are of the same mind - i will explain all day long to people who actually are interested. but to have to answer the same ignorant questions over and over makes me kind of get in their face a little: NOOOOOO. (direct stare) I'M. NOT. EATING. THAT. to the lesser importants: eeeew!! gross!!! get that stuff away from me!! i keep thinking that *maybee* someday these dorks will stop asking me questions, but everywhere you go, there they are...... :/


Notme! I'm glad someone gets my warped sense of humor. I am tough person to deal with when I choose to be and I also enjoy meeting people from all walks of life.
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#15 JaniceS

 
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 01:00 PM

Sorry for the long wait guys, I decided after reading my post again that, "what the heck, why let THEM decide when I spend my leave/sick leave?" and I pulled myself together and strolled into work, head held high with my gluten-free chocolate muffin (that I have fallen in love with) and my lunch in hand, and just acted like nothing had happened. A few people asked if I was feeling better and one lady even took the left over pie because guess what? HER GRANDAUGHTERS HAVE CELIAC and they loved it. She thought it was so considerate of me to cook something special for people and she even said that the pie tasted just like a s'more (granted she was probably over doing it a bit, though I think it was yummy) and asked me for the recipe. Talk about coincidental. I did get some odd looks (perhaps my immagination) and one lady ask me how my "diet" was going. Ahh if only I read this forum earlier, I would love to use the drama-filled "my doctor is worried" line. I just said that it was hard getting use to such a big life change, but that I discovered some of the best gluten free snacks and treats. Implying that this change is both recent, and a lifetime change AND that I am still eating.

It is so lovely to have a forum where people in the same boat can talk and actually understand what you're going through. Hopefully all this "diet" talk in the office will blow over with the next 'office scandel', which reminds me - make a mental note to stay out of the office gossip. I am really glad I sucked it up and went into work today because I think maybe it would have just caused more gossip "Ohh, Jan didn't come in to work today... wonder why?". Being an adult can stink sometimes! My personal friends are still adjusting to the Gluten-Free me, and sometimes forget that, no, I don't want to go in for a pitcher of beer on girl's night out.

I just want to say that you are all wonderful and thank you for the support, such good advice given. This is going to be a tough adjustment, though being able to vent like this and get advice and support is going to make it a lot easier! Thanks guys!
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