Celiac Disease: an Invisible Illness

May is Celiac Awareness month and with that in mind, I’d like to thank Elle Magazine for raising awareness by posting the picture above to a combined following of 5.6 million people on their social media accounts this week with the caption “We all have that friend…

Hahahaha. So funny! It reminds me of another time I saw someone making fun of a disability recently. What was it again? Oh yeah…

imagesHysterical, right? No. Just mean. Oh well, it didn’t stop the person who did it from winning even if it was pretty controversial for a while.

Celiac disease has become the source of a lot of humor lately. Quite frankly, whenever someone comes out with the “gluten-free” joke, you can pretty much assume they’ve lost the ability to come up with good material or never really had it to begin with. It’s pathetic to make fun of people with a disability. Visible or invisible.

Some may say they are targeting people who eat gluten-free because it’s a fad, to try to lose weight or are just plain finicky. I have issues with that too. Not because I care how other people eat or live their lives, mainly because it makes it 10 times harder for my 2 sons and me, who actually have celiac disease, and others with a gluten intolerance or other medical issues to have any credibility. But hey, you don’t hear me making fun of them, do you? Want to know why? Because it’s not my business and it is not nice. Elle Magazine, I don’t think it’s your business either.

Quite frankly, unless you want to raise awareness in a positive way, I think you should just leave the topic alone. Now, I know you did take the comic down from your Facebook and Instagram accounts after seeing Gluten Dude’s post and receiving comments from tons of people who were horrified and upset. That was a bit cowardly. Especially since you didn’t offer an apology. I actually think you should put it back up. Just take off the “We get it Amanda…” part and replace that with “How it feels when you have celiac disease.”

The image captured it almost perfectly. I bet my 6 year old and 9 year old sons feel like they are in a bubble or at the very least, separated from their friends at times. I do too. It really sucks. Imagine you are a child at a birthday, classroom party, family function or basically any other celebratory event but have to bring your own food. Imagine the feeling when you drop your lunch or forget to bring what was packed and the school cafeteria has nothing you can eat so you just have to sit there without anything and wait until you get home.

Can I vent a little about my pain? I am a chef. I went through culinary school and worked in the test kitchen at Bon Appétit magazine. Do you have any idea how much deliciousness was around me that I could not eat? I still suffer a little every time I go out to a restaurant and can’t just order anything on the menu. Oh and I am just dying for a slice of NYC pizza, some good bread from Balthazar or to see what the big deal is with a Cronut. Trust me, I would eat all of the gluten if I could and so would my kids but we can’t, not because we want to be that person but because we will get sick.

Elle, I don’t mean to take it all out on you. You just jumped on the gluten-free shaming bandwagon because it was cool. I get it. You are far from the first and you will surely not be the last. As a matter of fact, you are in great company. Just this past weekend, my kids went to see The Angry Birds Movie and came back to tell me it made fun of people who were gluten-free. Awesome. A kids movie teaching little ones to grow up and make fun of people with celiac disease.

So once again, I thank you for raising awareness. Even if it was in the form of ignorance. Because it brought up the discussion. Now, I urge you to follow it up with some education. Beyond Celiac is using Celiac Awareness Month as an opportunity to teach people about what it is like to live with an invisible illness. I am one of their ambassadors and would love to share their message with you in the hope that you will use this information to educate your 5.6 million fans on the realities of celiac disease versus insulting those who have to eat gluten-free because of medical conditions. Here are the facts:

Fast Facts about Celiac Disease_largeInvisible Illness Infographic with citations_FINAL



  • Hi
    With all due respect, you are not seeing what is really driving all the gluten free hate. Search for gluten free or gluten free hate and you will find a mountain of slick copy and memes. These are not being generated organically. They are part of a ad/education campaign by the wheat interests. Gluten free is front and center on their list of priorities and they are using a web based approach.

  • So well put, Jackie! And I’m adding these memes to my Celiac Disease and Gluten Free Facts Pinterest Page, with links back HERE because this message needs to be heard. Thanks also for leaving a comment on my FB post about this issue. Your voice is always one I love to have part of the conversation. Feel free to leave a comment on my blog post as you did on FB with the link to your post. I’m sure folks on my site would like to hear your perspective, too. https://gfjules.com/newest-gluten-free-fad-gluten-intolerance-intolerance/

    • Thank you, Jules! I felt your article was incredibly on point and informative. Thank you for always advocating for the celiac community. Xo

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