Me (over and over again): “No, but I am allergic to being asked if I’m allergic to bread.”
Next Question: “So can you eat donuts?”
Me: “Can you eat rocks?”
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition, not an allergy. There’s a big difference between the two, the main one being that autoimmune sounds a lot more impressive. So impressive in fact that most people have no idea what an autoimmune condition is. That’s what makes it kind of fun if you’re one who thrives on the pity of others. When I tell people that I have an autoimmune condition, they tend to immediately take two steps back in case its contagious. Then there is that saaaad look…
From a practical perspective, there’s not much to be gained by trying to tell people that I have an autoimmune disease, and not an allergy. I have to confess that when in restaurants trying to explain what I can and cannot eat, I always tell people that I am “allergic” to gluten. It’s just a lot easier, even if my illness does not sound nearly as cool.
So what’s an allergy? Technically, allergies are highly sensitive reactions by ones body to certain, and usually normal, substances. Allergies are also a little bit like shoes. You can get them most anytime during your life. It’s also possible that you can outgrow them, but not always. While allergies can be quite serious, and even fatal, they can be described as a reaction to exposure to wheat or other allergens. So, yes, there are people who are actually allergic to wheat, and therefore share a necessary gluten free lifestyle with people diagnosed with Celiac. Life is not very pleasant for those poor folks either.
On the other hand, Celiac, being an autoimmune condition, is more like a chain reaction. If you read my post on Vikings and Blazing Saddles fight scenes, you’ll understand the comparison, where the presence of gluten, and more specifically gliadins, create a full scale war between auto-antibodies and your hapless, and helpless, villi.
So the next time someone asks if you’re allergic to bread, you can answer with confidence…
Trust me, it’s a lot easier to explain than the truth!