It is important to tell friends and family when you are newly diagnosed with Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance. It is important to explain what Coeliac Disease is and why you need to adhere to a new strict diet. Many people are unsure what to say and do when a friend or family member is newly diagnosed and many misunderstand the seriousness of it.
We’ve put together a little cheatsheet for you to share with your friends and family. It outlines the Dos and Don’ts of what you should and shouldn’t say to someone who has Coeliac Disease or a gluten intolerance. Feel free to share it or pass it on to anyone who may not quite understand your diagnosis, or needs a little reminding of what they can do to support you.
Firstly the Don’ts
It’s just a Phase
Do not say it is likely to be just a phase and they will grow out of it. This is not a lifestyle choice. Coeliac Disease is for life and there will be a grieving and accepting phase for your friend or family member after their diagnosis. Support your loved one and focus on the foods that they can still eat and enjoy.
A little gluten won’t hurt
In actual fact, a little could hurt. Anyone suffering with Coeliac Disease needs to ensure they do their best to avoid gluten, including traces and crumbs. Even small amounts can cause long terms harm.
Gluten free food does not taste nice
This is something we know a lot about. Eating gluten free, does not mean that taste needs to be compromised. In fact, one of the best things about eating a gluten free diet also being on the rise for so many people, is that there is now so much great, tasty food available. Not to mention all the great food we can still eat that has no gluten or gluten substitutes: fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and cheese.
Try saying this instead:
I’ve done some reading
Take a little time out and educate yourself on Coeliac Disease. Coeliac Australia is a great place to start with simple, bit sized bits of helpful information. Let your friend or family member know that you support them and want to understand.
I’m making changes too
This is really important if you live together, or eat together a lot. We are not saying race out and throw everything in the pantry with gluten in the bin. But perhaps try sorting out the cupboards and having a clearly market gluten free zone that is safe, including your kitchen bench, chopping board, toaster, etc. If your friend visits your house, have some gluten free snacks on hand to offer.
Let’s go on an adventure
Don’t let your friend feel alienated or left out of social situations. Catering for gluten free doesn’t have to be a challenge. If you don’t want to cook without gluten at a dinner party, order some of our delicious meals to be kept in the freezer for your friend. When they come to dinner, they can have their own, safely gluten free meal. Or if you want to go out for dinner, do some research online and go exploring all of the wonderful restaurants and cafes that now cater to gluten free diners. You’ll be sure to find some real gems and taste some incredible food along the way.
Starting out a new life as gluten free can feel daunting. Coeliac Disease is an auto-immune disease that causes real harm if ignored or not taken seriously. Your friend or family member will need your love and support as they transition to their new way of life. Without gluten, it won’t be long until they are feeling better, probably than they ever have before. Go with them on the journey.
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