Why you, on a personal level, should feel bad for eating that muffin in front of me
I’ve been diagnosed with coeliac disease for eight years. For those clueless to my tragic ailment, it’s a severe allergy to gluten, that causes your immune system to attack its own tissue when gluten is consumed. It virtually prevents you from eating any kind of good food. So, in honour of all the lovely food on show in this issue that I can’t eat, I’ve conned the editorial team into letting me have two pages to bitch and moan about my biggest gripes with being a little gluten free girlie in a world of wheat.
The one token cabinet option at any café
In the top right of any café cabinet, there’s about a 90% chance that you’ll find the prized glory of any shitty hospitality establishment: low and behold, the gluten free brownie. It’s usually hard as a rock, and looks like it’s been sitting in their freezer since 2006. Also, most places have started advertising them as “low gluten” rather than “gluten free”, to cover their asses over the fact that literally all of the equipment in their kitchen is caked in flour. A nice sentiment, but I wasn’t going to eat that brownie anyway, girlboss: I can smell the mould on it from here.
Getting lumped in with every other dietary requirement
I spent a long and particularly nasty year living in Waipārūrū the first year it opened to residents in 2020, boasting five different meal stations each night for students to choose from. Unfortunately, this breadth of opportunity was not extended to any of us with dietary requirements, who all got lumped in together over at the one vegan meal station. For the record, the hall knew of my gluten allergy at least six months in advance of moving in, and insofar as statistics would have it (approximately 1 in 100 New Zealanders are coeliac) I probably wasn’t the only coeliac in a hall of 700 students at the time. Also, I can’t imagine the vegans and vegetarians enjoyed having to eat gluten free, so it really went both ways. By the time I had my already low iron checked again at the end of a month of seeing no red meat, I no shit had to go into the hospital for an infusion. The first time I went out for a meat burger after that month, I cried genuine tears.
The weekly grocery bill is almost enough for a down payment on a house
Look, inflation is bad for everybody, but it’s definitely worse if you have a food allergy (or preference). The only kind of gluten free bread that doesn’t taste like asshole now costs $10.99 a loaf, and that’s actually not crazy—even the cheapest loaves (which do taste like asshole) are still around $9.00. Four fucking frozen fish cakes will put me out the same amount, which is double the cost of most of the gluten versions. I have vegan friends that are paying $8.00 at some places in the city for an alternative milk latté. A jar of coconut yoghurt for those who are dairy-free is an easy $10.00. Yes, you no longer being able to buy a $1.00 loaf of value bread is devastating, but spare a thought for those of us that are paying ten times the price for the same thing.
People stealing the dietary food on the rare occasion it “looks good”
Recently, I saw this girl in the halls post a TikTok where she said that she eats the gluten free cereal at breakfast because it “tastes better.” I had to delete the app for a few days to stop myself from regressing to the TikTok comment section and absolutely dragging an 18-year-old. I cannot count the number of times I went downstairs in 2020 and saw people swiping the gluten free biscuits at lunch—on the rare occasions they were even there—because they were “so much better than the gluten ones.” I can count the number of times I made an angry confessional post about it though: one. Fuck off. We never get good food. You eating the cereal means I don’t get breakfast because there’s nothing left. Thanks for that. If I see you around campus, it’s killattack on sight.
The recurring nightmares about eating the food you’re allergic to
Over the years I’ve fallen prey to many dreams where I’ve consumed some gluten-filled substance. Ice cream cones on cruise ships, cinnamon rolls at McDonald’s, the list goes on. The problem is, even my dream self never actually lets me enjoy them, and I always wake up to my third-eye chakra music, absolutely drenched in sweat and having a panic attack. That being said, I’ve never heard another person with a food allergy complain about this, so the recurring fear of eating gluten in my dreams might just be a me problem actually.
There are virtually no good takeaways or restaurants
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2015, after months of being unable to stomach food and being generally unwell. Knowing absolutely nothing about being gluten free, the first thing my mother and I did after leaving the hospital was drive through the KFC drive-thru and grab hot chips (figuring I was just eating potatoes). Turns out, I was eating potatoes coated in flour. We quickly educated ourselves, and I have not eaten KFC since. It’s been eight years and I swear I still have the occasional meltdown over wanting potato and gravy. 90% of the time I go out to lunch with friends, I have to sit there and eat nothing or have poached eggs on toast while my friends try the most exotic looking dishes on the planet—at least, comparatively. Like they say, you never know when you’re doing something for the last time. I would’ve savoured that KFC trip so much more if I’d known.
Everyone thinks it’s like a fucking lactose intolerance
Let me be crystal clear: no, babes, no. It’s not like a fucking lactose intolerance. It’s so nice for you that you can enjoy half a punnet of ice cream and then shit your brains out, that’s so brave! Unfortunately if I decided to do that with gluten, my intestines would literally stop working. I’d absorb no nutrients from my food, rapidly lose energy, iron, and weight, and, if I did it for long enough, probably give myself bowel cancer. But enjoy the cow’s milk in your iced coffee! I’m sorry your tummy hurts babygirl 🙁 Maybe you just shouldn’t have fucking consumed milk.
In short, if you see me around campus and I’m glaring at you while you eat your MunchyMart muffin, I’m sorry—I’m just jealous. There’s only so much gluten exposure a girl can handle.