23 stupid things people have said about being gluten free

Sarah Howells the gluten free blogger coeliac disease

As if having coeliac disease wasn’t bad enough, you have to put up with people saying some pretty stupid things. I get it – the population isn’t as clued up on coeliac disease and a gluten free diet as it should be, which is probably why diagnosis rates are still far too low. 

But it can get tiring being asked the same old questions and hearing the same blanket statements. Sometimes you wonder, is it just me? Don’t worry folks, you’re not alone!


I asked members of The Gluten Free Blogger Facebook group to tell me the most annoying things anyone has said to them about being gluten free. I’ve mixed these up with some of my own personal favourites. Get the popcorn out kids, there’s some gooduns in here! How many can you tick off the list?

First there are the stupid questions…

‘What’s a co-liac/celeriac/co-e-liac?’

‘Risk it?’

Pointing at every single bit of food you go to eat and saying ‘has that got gluten in it?’

Being asked what exactly happens when you eat gluten. (See earlier blog post here)

‘Are you sure it’s not all in your mind?’

‘Oh you can’t eat potatoes can you?’

Me: ‘I’m gluten free.’ Friend: ‘Oh, so you can’t eat yeast?’

Then the stupid things said to us by servers

Me: ‘Does the (whatever) contain gluten?’ Waiter: ‘Yes I think so, it’s got butter in.’

Being told there is a vegetarian menu in response to asking a restaurant if they have any gluten free food.

Being served chicken skewers on top of a pitta bread and being told ‘it’s ok, you can leave the bread’.

Ordering gluten free starters in a restaurant – and then being asked if you want a gluten free main too.

Me: ‘Is that gluten free?’ Server: ‘It should be?’

Me: ‘Is this dish gluten free?’ Server: “There is no gluten in this. It is gluten free. But if you’re really allergic I wouldn’t eat it.”

‘The chips are safe because the high temperature in the fryer will kill the gluten particles.’

The condescending remarks

‘I went on a gluten free diet once… I lost so much weight.’

‘Oh so you’ve just got a bit of IBS.’

‘I don’t know how you do it’ – errr, I don’t have much choice mate!

And of course, the downright ‘WTF’ moments

‘I spent hours looking for some glucose free biscuits for you, but I couldn’t find any.’

‘I wish I was coeliac too because it would stop me eating so much cake’

Once I tried to use a language card in a restaurant in Paris to explain I had coeliac disease and they asked if I needed a hospital.

‘We bought some of your gluten free sausages by mistake. We thought they were going to be vile as full of your gluten free stuff but they were amazing.’

‘What is this gluten free rubbish? Can’t you just take the gluten out?’

And my personal favourite…

‘A little bit won’t hurt you’

Have I missed any out?

I know there are probably a lot more things people have said to you about being gluten free which have made you want to #facepalm to the max! I’d love to know anything I’ve missed in the comments below – vent your fury!

If you want a giggle, give these other posts a read!

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  1. Hannah
    September 20, 2018 / 09:20

    You’re just doing it for attention/to be awkward
    You’re doing it to control where we eat
    What is it you can *actually* eat then?

  2. Sandy
    September 20, 2018 / 12:57

    I always get asked what will happen if you eat some 😳guess!

  3. Poopy Wieners
    September 20, 2018 / 18:47

    Calling people stupid for asking about your health in good faith probably isn’t good for you either.

    • Sarah H (GF Blogger)
      September 21, 2018 / 07:32

      I’m sure they can appreciate it’s just a bit of humour!

      • Vestal
        December 15, 2019 / 02:35

        Your friends, possibly. All others, not so much based on the tone of the article.

        Guess what? A person that isn’t going through the horrible thing isn’t likely to know too much about it unless they specifically study that thing for whatever reason. They’re going to say stupid things. It’s not directed at you or your thing.

        Yeah it sucks that mainstream, fad diet, idiots took over your thing and made it into something that it’s not. Hopefully in the last year or so you’ve gotten over it.

      • Sarah H (GF Blogger)
        December 15, 2019 / 10:30

        I’m sorry you felt so offended by this article, in all the thousands of people that have read it, you seem to be the only one who is upset by it. It’s a joke article intended to be humorous, obviously you have taken it a little too seriously 😀 Perhaps my blog is not the best fit for you, as if you don’t like this, you certainly won’t like some of my other tongue-in-cheek posts! 🙂

  4. Catalyst
    September 21, 2018 / 07:55

    Phoning a restaurant in advance to check that they had a gluten free menu, then waiting staff not knowing which items contained gluten. Was also served ice cream on a bed of crushed biscuit (it only stated ice cream as the ingredient on the menu) and sending it back, amid much confusion.

    I’ve experienced a similar situation in several restaurants. Better training is needed, as it’s clear that waiting staff are often out of their depth. Feel sorry for them- management should be educating/ providing them with more information on dietary requirements, especially if they claim to offer gluten-free items!

  5. Joanna Brooks
    September 21, 2018 / 14:44

    I’ve been referred to as a ‘fussy eater’ before – that was fun. I also got from a server in a restaurant ‘ergh, imagine having to live like that!’ 😡

  6. Graham Key
    September 21, 2018 / 23:53

    “Why would anyone buy those, they taste awful”
    “It’s just a fad”
    “Yes, there’s big money in gluten free these days”

  7. Janet Constance Bellamy Woodward
    October 9, 2018 / 16:38

    Being told that the heat in the fryer kills the gluten…..

  8. Susan Bleese
    October 18, 2018 / 00:44

    Would you like ordinary bread in place of the ciabatta

  9. Katrien
    October 18, 2018 / 15:35

    My favourite latest one is… go on… have a cake…can’t you just treat yourself every now and then!!!

  10. Philip Scott
    October 18, 2018 / 17:47

    “Do you ever fancy having a blow out?” Yeah why not for fun and be holed up for a day or two with excruciating stomach cramps and not being able to be far from the toilet…second thoughts no.

  11. Michelle
    October 18, 2018 / 19:18

    When asking what is gluten free on the menu and being told that the gravy is gluten free, like yes sunshine I came here to drink the gravy 🤦🏻‍♀️

  12. Deborah Torp
    November 6, 2018 / 02:33

    I hate, “Oh, I am so sorry. I’m just so sorry for you. You poor thing. I could never live if I couldn’t eat gluten!”

  13. Lynette Laky
    November 6, 2018 / 02:59

    “We have whole wheat bread. Can you eat that instead?”

  14. Linda Schettko
    November 6, 2018 / 03:36

    Asking a waitress if the hash browns have any wheat in them (because some do) and being told “There’s no wheat but they do use a bit of flour.” Duh.

    At a Jersey Mike’s this weekend I ordered the gluten free bun and was asked “Is it an allergy?” I answered yes because explaining would take too long.

    I run into the same issues with dairy and soy products. It’s amazing how many people don’t know the other names for wheat, dairy, or soy.

  15. Kathryn
    November 6, 2018 / 06:27

    I don’t know why you eat gluten free. It’s just a fad. There’s nothing to it! (I went ballistic on this guy)

  16. Vitalia Daza
    November 7, 2018 / 04:17

    I was talking about how I’d miss the classic Chilean food if I go back and someone said I’d get over Celiac when I’m there and learn to actually adapt….um yeah. I guess I’m just not a flexible or adaptable person and that’s why I have a genetic disease lol

    Another is the “we only eat gf at our house, you can trust my food!!” than when you go there there’s 4 croissants and crumbs everywhere and in the butter and gluten cookies people have been touching and eating and in their honey and bags of flour leaking over everything but they’re a safe place to eat….

    Or when I call a restaurant and if they can accommodate Celiac? Silence…than you ask Gluten free and they ask “what’s gluten?” I Hang up.

    “You can’t avoid gluten, it’s everywhere”

    “You can avoid gluten, it’s nowhere”

    “My gluten free or Celiac friend eats at pot lucks and buffets so you can too”

    At my cousins wedding at a synagogue I brought te only gf safe j could find but it wasn’t kosher. I tried eating it in a back room away from wedding and in the box. The guy came in ans told me to throw it out. Said they had gf food for me. I asked them if any of the “gf” had a chance of cross contamination, they said “no”, I asked if they were positive. He said yes. I said so a waiter or chef didn’t touch bread than arrange the chicken or cheese? The potatoes aren’t buttered with crumby bread? He said “why? What would happen if it was?!” I said “well osteoporosis, infertility, early death, possible stomach cancers”. He turned white and said “I’ll be right back” ….comes back “eat your pizza can I get you a free coke?? There’s BREADS EVERYWHERE”

  17. LucyVanPelt
    November 7, 2018 / 20:49

    We’ve had all that – mostly, though, I’ve gotten really tired of under-trained waitstaff. Went to a family restaurant with my caeliac husband and two caeliac daughters. When ordering, we asked the waiter if a particular item contained gluten, because the menu was unclear. “I’m pretty sure not…” he said. “Ok,” I said, “can you go become very sure one way or the other because if one of these people eats anything with gluten I’ll be taking them to the hospital at 3 in the morning and I don’t want to have to do that.” He went away and came back. “No one is sure,” he said. We ended up leaving that restaurant. Now we only eat at places where we know what’s what. Some places are amazing, others are duds.

  18. Gabriella S
    January 2, 2019 / 05:24

    once I went to a mexican restaurant and asked if they had gf burritos for me and my dad as we both have strong reactions to gluten. The waitress then said that they only have corn and flour tortillas. my dad and me were laughing out loud about that for the next few weeks.

    Another thing that is the worst is the low quality of gf food. My schools catering last year was really good about remembering who was gf but usually didn’t have a gf option. My lunch usually consisted of poorly cooked gf pasta (made with rice flour) half the time it was mushy with uncooked pieces in it while others it simply was overcooked. What really bothered me was that my lunch was a dollar extra while everyone else got perfectly good pasta for free with their meal in the salad bar.

  19. Kate
    August 14, 2019 / 04:21

    When you order gluten free food and your friend orders the regular version and adds, “I’ll have her gluten. Give me all the gluten.” 😐

  20. Kat
    September 12, 2019 / 21:26

    “My friend/neighbour/relative had that once but they grew out of it” 😒

  21. Olga Lilian Caddock
    October 19, 2019 / 08:47

    Being told by my sisters – ‘Well, you never USED to be!’. I was only diagnosed 2yrs ago, at the age of 66 and they still think I’m ‘attention seeking’ :-(.

    • Charlie
      February 28, 2020 / 17:55

      Asking if your partner needs gluten free bread as well for a shared pot of cheese fondue. ‘No cross contamination possibilities there – me thinks!’

  22. Kay
    July 17, 2020 / 18:55

    I was at our local hospital over the lunch hour so decided to try the cafe for a GF sandwich (I’d had one there before). On enquiring the waitress said “No we haven’t any, but we do have Halal”?!?! 😳

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