Sadly, the seriousness of Celiac's disease is rarely understood by people that have not experienced it themselves, or had a close relative develop the disease. Most people do not realize that ingesting even the tiniest trace of foods that contain gluten can trigger a reaction, causing damage to the gut and potentially leading to complications such as osteoporosis and malnutrition.
Celiac's disease is widely misunderstood
Friends and family members may well mistake Celiac's disease for a simple food intolerance, and think you are making a fuss about nothing. Even worse, in these days of low carb dieting, people may think that your gluten-free diet is an attempt to lose weight, rather than a necessary treatment for a serious disease.
How many times has a well meaning family member said, "go on, just one spoonful will not hurt"? Have you ever seen a friend roll their eyes in embarrassment when you send back a dish in a restaurant that has a gluten containing sauce, even though you explained to the waiter that you were a celiac?
Reactions to Celiac's disease are caused by ignorance not malice
These reactions from your nearest and dearest can understandably cause you frustration and upset, but it is important to remember that these attitudes stem from ignorance about your condition rather than politeness or malice. Educating your friends and family about your condition can help them to understand why you are so particular about avoiding foods that contain gluten.
Take the time to explain your condition to your friends and family
Take a common example; let's call it 'crumbs in the butter'. If you ask the people you live with to make sure they do not leave toast or bread crumbs from the butter knife in the butter because you can not eat bread, they will think you are just making a fuss. If you ask them to be careful about crumbs in the butter because even the smallest wheat containing crumb can cause the production of antibodies that will damage your gut and prevent your digestive system from working properly, they might just sit up and take notice.
It may appear patronizing, but printing out some simple information on Celiac's disease from the internet, or getting holding some brief leaflets from your doctor, can be a great way to educate your friends and family. They might not read all the details, but if they really care about you they will take the time to find out why it is you are so adamant about eliminating foods that contain gluten from your diet.
Your immediate family need to be aware of Celiac's disease
It is especially important to educate your immediate family about Celiac's disease and gluten sensitivity because it does not have genetic elements, and if you have it, there is a one in ten chance that they will develop it. Explaining this to them, and providing them with a list of symptoms to look out for, is one sure way to get them to take your condition seriously.