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Dear Gluten Dude: Help! How Do I Explain Celiac to my Husband?

Dear Gluten Dude: Help! How Do I Explain Celiac to my Husband?

Happy Celiac Awareness Month folks. In years past, I’ve always tried to do something unique for this month. One year I wrote 30 blog posts in 30 days (boy…was everyone sick of me by the time THAT month was over); another year I tried to help one specific celiac per day; and last year I launched The Faces of Celiac Disease, which I absolutely love and is still going strong.

So what am I doing this year? Drum roll please…


How’s that for disappointing? Well…I’m certainly not doing nothing. Wait…is that a double negative? Does that mean I really am doing something?? Yes…I’m doing something. I’m going to continue to do my thing and advocate as strongly as possible and help as many of my fellow celiacs as possible. While it’s nice to have a month of awareness, I’m going to keep focusing on 12 months of awareness. And while way too many celiacs are out there promoting crappy gluten-free food (this is becoming a sore point for me…that ain’t awareness folks), I’m going to keep doing what I do best.

Which leads us to today’s post. I received an email from a frustrated celiac whose husband simply does not get it. Here is what she said.

I was diagnosed w/ Celiac 3 yrs ago. My friend was diagnosed 3 yrs before that and I admit I didn’t understand how a crumb could make her sick. I obviously do now.

My husband refuses to understand all of the aspects of my disease. I made an analogy of a peanut allergy explaining cross contamination, he agrees and understands how it can kill someone. He does not see how it applies to my celiac. He doesn’t understand how its killing me slowly, the damage done every time I get glutened. He gets angry and frustrated that I have designated GF kitchen pans and utensils. He says I’m crazy, and sometimes I definitely feel crazy. He says the dishwasher would kill the gluten and the pans don’t absorb any gluten. Well, maybe that’s true, but I know that I stopped getting sick after buying a new pan and cooking my food in it. I’ve used a separate sponge to wash dishes from the beginning, I keep my butter separate and I get angry when he gets his hands into my shredded cheese.

Have I gone overboard? How do I explain the seriousness of my disease to him in a way he understands? I never ask him to cook my food for me, I always go out of my way to cook and serve gluten food for him and the kids. He also doesn’t understand how I get a skin rash on my hands after baking for the kids using flour, even though I wash my hands obsessively. Or how I can get sick from inhaling the flour when it fluffs into the air.

Am I fighting a losing battle?

A losing battle? Not sure. A tough battle? Holy moly…YES!

By saying that you once did not understand how a crumb could make a celiac sick, you seem to be defending your husband’s behavior. My two cents? There is no defense for his behavior.

There is something out there called the internet and if he wanted to learn about celiac disease and what you must do to keep safe and to keep healthy, he could. If he wanted to understand why having your own separate pots and pans is important, he could. If he wanted to know how dangerous cross-contamination can be, he could.

He is choosing not to and that sadly goes deeper than celiac disease.

Please don’t doubt yourself. You are not going overboard. It’s been 3 years and he’s still giving you hell? That sucks…plain and simple…and you don’t deserve it. You have an autoimmune disease. This is not a choice you are making.

Please show him this post. Show him other posts where I have talked about relationships and how celiac can affect the family dynamics. Hopefully, he’ll see the light.

In the meantime, put yourself first.

And please stop making separate meals for him and the kids. They can eat gluten-free. It’s not a punishment. It’s reality.


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