There are many ways to support people with celiac disease. It’s very important that if you know someone with celiac disease, that you support them.
Going gluten-free is overwhelming. A gluten-free lifestyle impacts nearly every aspect of your life. It affects where you go out to eat, what you put on your skin, how you set up your kitchen, where you grocery shop, how you plan for parties and events. Basically, it’s an extremely difficult lifestyle to adapt to and maintain, making support very important.
In fact, a gluten-free lifestyle can be so burdensome that researchers found that non-adherence can be a serious problem in those diagnosed with celiac disease. This is why support is so important because your loved ones with celiac disease are more likely to adhere to a gluten-free diet and have higher quality of life scores if you support them than if you don’t.
Hopefully, if you know someone with celiac disease, you’ve been able to be supportive in some way or another. If you’ve struggled or if you want to do more I wrote this post for you! Now that you know why gluten-free lifestyle support is important, we can talk about some ways to support people with celiac disease (and NCGS).
If you have celiac disease and are looking for support I also have another post up about the many different ways you can find it! Also please remember, my inbox is always open! Please feel free to contact me through my website or send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram!
Ways to Support People with Celiac Disease
One of the best ways to support people with celiac disease is by educating yourself on the disease. Nothing means more than someone seeking out info in order to better understand our needs. This gesture alone shows us that you care enough to try and understand what we might be going through and it means a lot.
Beyond Celiac is a great starting point for those looking to learn more but also don’t be afraid to ask your loved one questions. Which leads me to one of the next few ways to support people with celiac disease:
Respectfully Ask Questions
Are you confused? Are you concerned? Do you have questions? ASK US (respectfully)! There is a lot of information surrounding a gluten-free lifestyle and I’ll be honest, not all of it is positive. In fact, a lot of it might leave you doubting your loved one’s actual needs.
If you have questions, ask them. There is a lot of individualization that goes into living gluten-free and everyone’s gluten-free lifestyle is going to look different. This also means there is a lot of what feels like conflicting information Ultimately, your loved one is the best person to source information on when it comes to their experiences and needs.
On that note, be patient and gentle with them when they share their needs or change them. Their ENTIRE way of living has been flipped upside down which involves A LOT of learning. Meaning, if they said yes to a dish last week but this week they are saying no to that same dish – know that it’s likely because they now know something they didn’t before.
This is perhaps one of the easiest yet most impactful ways to support people with celiac disease.
Nothing feels worse than your friends and family doubting your symptoms and needs – and this is a frequent problem with invisible illnesses. Celiac Disease and NCGS often don’t have outwardly obvious symptoms so it can be hard to understand just how bad it is. Just know that it is bad – bad enough that we have to be sometimes seemingly overly strict about our food and how it’s prepared.
If we say no to trying your world-famous casserole, respect it. Do NOT ask us again. Do not pressure us. We aren’t trying to be rude, we are just being protective of our health.
Basically, no means no.
Help Spread Awareness
While I don’t expect everyone who knows someone with celiac disease to be preaching from the roof tops about it, if you do want to go this extra mile, I welcome and value it (and I think your loved ones will too).
Simple posting about new things you’ve learned about celiac disease or sharing articles about it on social media can help spread the word that a gluten-free diet isn’t always for fad diet reasons and should be taken seriously.
Don’t Stop Inviting Us Out
Being social almost always involves gathering around food. Parties, lunch dates, dinner dates, Friday nights outs, sporting events, and more all typically involve food; food that usually isn’t safe for people with celiac disease. When we are initially diagnosed, it’s overwhelming just to figure out what to eat at home, yet alone eating out; meaning we might say no when you invite us out to dinner. Don’t stop though.
If you really want to be supportive, consider alternative hang-out invitation that doesn’t involve food. Like meeting for coffee, going to the movies, or going for a walk at a park. You might also consider offering to help advocate for your loved one if they do want to eat out. Helping them ask questions and advocate for their needs at the restaurant.
Offer Gluten-Free Food When We Visit
I don’t expect this but it’s always a nice gesture when someone offers me gluten-free food when I visit. If you choose to do this, please do it with the understanding that we might still say no to your offering if it ends up still being unsafe. Despite us saying no, we still appreciate the effort.
Bonus points if you reach out to us before hosting to see what you can provide that will be safe!
Above were just a few ways to support people with celiac disease but are not the only ways. Hopefully, this post has given you some inspiration on some ways you can help your loved ones enjoy their gluten-free lifestyle more through support. Comment below ways you’d like to be supported (if you have celiac) or ways you have supported someone with celiac! Also like this post if you found it helpful!