And So This Is (Celiac) Christmas. . .

This Christmas was a turning point. For the first time, I came home to celebrate Christmas as a celiac. The traditions that define Christmas are gift-giving, yule longs, mistletoe, and a feast. One realizes as a celiac how much of our holiday traditions revolve around food. Being celiac turns a person into an outsider in all sorts of sudden, surreal ways. When one speck of gluten can damage my health for months, I develop a different way of looking at a loaf of french bread, a Christmas cookie, or a beer. For me, those things are poison, and the holidays are forever altered. Read More

Sex and the Single Celiac

Future boyfriends: take note. When we kiss your kisses must be gluten-free. As a newly diagnosed celiac, I am entering into dating terrain that few can imagine. And I am just making sense of it in writing this post.

Celiac is an autoimmune condition triggered by even the most minute amount of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, (most) oats, and wheat. Think bread, and think of a thousand other products. I can’t eat a bread crumb (or a tiny amount of bread, beer, pizza, soy sauce, fake crab, gluten-containing ice cream). Gluten is in an amazing array of products, and the possibility of cross-contamination makes many products unsafe.

Navigating life as a celiac is complicated, especially in the United States where the FDA is three years late issuing even minimal guidelines to manufacturers on safe limits for “gluten-free” products. I’ve blogged about this issue on the Huffington Post. This issue is even trickier when it comes to dating. Guess what? You can get contaminated from kissing someone who has eaten gluten (and that scenario would be quite common on a date, all it takes is a swill of beer!).

Normally we save awkward conversations about “safe sex” to later in the relationship. But for a celiac it’s critical to talk about “safe kissing.”

Most celiacs posting in forums are married or already have committed partners. So they have only one person to educate. But it’s an entirely different situation if you are meeting someone new. I’ve had one date so far where I didn’t spend half the date talking about celiac. The guy went in for a kiss and I had to brush him aside telling him we would have to wait until we had talked about celiac. He was clearly confused. Later I sent some links.

I’ve googled extensively to find out whether celiacs get sick from kissing someone who has consumed gluten, and although research hasn’t been done on the effects of saliva on gluten, the consensus from the field in forums is yes. Kissing is not something I am going to give up, but getting sick is also not OK; for me, it means being a zombie for a week and over time dramatically increasing risks of getting cancer, osteoporosis, and other autoimmune disease.

Here are the most common tips:
*ask your date to brush his or her teeth before kissing you
*ask your date to not consume anything containing gluten for a few hours before kissing
*ask your date to rinse with water before going in for a smooch
*if you’re dating a woman, ask her to wear gluten-free lipstick
*if you’re dating a man, ask him to brush gluten crumbs from his moustache!

Spontaneous, no? Sweet and romantic? Yes. Being celiac and defining your needs means your date has to value you to kiss you.

Here’s looking forward to some passionate gluten-free kisses. Step one in this video is also to brush and floss. And hey, it’s never a bad idea to brush and floss.