Being celiac in a sea of gluten-free dieters

How fad dieters have blurred the line between preference and disease

For some, the gluten-free diet is not an option but rather a neccessity.

With New Year’s just behind us, gym goers are increasing in number — and so are users of fad diets.

A ‘new year, new me’ mantra is trending on campus and everyone is putting down the pizza for a healthier alternative.

But for those of us with celiac disease, this time of year is frustrating.

I want to make one thing clear: I’m not the kind of person who tells you I’m a celiac within the first five minutes of meeting you, nor do I tell you that I have a dog and love tacos. When people who are celiac or lactose intolerant tell you that they have dietary restrictions, it’s for a serious reason, not for a health cleanse.

Cross contamination is a pressing issue for people with celiac disease. It can be as deathly as a nut allergy — even a grain of bread can cause someone with celiac disease to have a reaction. Fad dieters don’t necessarily have this concern, especially when eating out.

I hate going out for dinner or ordering in, because nothing is truly gluten-free. I went to a restaurant for my housemate’s birthday, and like always, I had to look for the gluten-free symbol next to the meals that are celiac-friendly. When the server came around, I told her that I was celiac, as people with allergies usually do, and gave her my order.

She told me that the restaurant used the same deep fryers for everything.  

Most gluten-free dieters would push this technicality off to the side. But for me, it’s a definite no-go. So when I thought that there was something for me to eat, there was really nothing.

The restaurant then continues to advertise these items on the menu as gluten-free, when in actuality, they aren’t, and should instead be labelled as gluten-reduced or gluten-sensitive.

My point is that for some people being gluten-free isn’t an option, but rather a necessity. And misleading labels like these make it seem like gluten is an illegitimate health risk.

There needs to be an understanding of what it means to be gluten-free in the food industry. Questions like, ‘Is it an allergy or a diet?’ need to be asked to know the severity of the customer and to be able to serve them properly.

People with celiac disease make up a small group on this campus in comparison to the population of fad dieters. As a result, food options are limited, and eating a salad everyday isn’t ideal. 

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