How to Support a Friend With Celiac Disease

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month; read on to learn about our top tips on how to support a loved one with celiac disease.

The only current treatment for celiac disease is a completely gluten-free diet. In kitchens, grocery stores, and restaurants flush with gluten-filled items, this can seem like a daunting prescription. If a loved one was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, finding out how to navigate new dietary terrain can be a steep learning curve. However, there are plenty of ways, big and small, that you can lend a helping hand.

Learn about celiac disease in your spare time

Talk to your friend about their condition, but also take some time to do some research of your own. By taking a few minutes out of your day to learn about the nature of the disease and its symptoms, you can spend your time with them discussing how you can accommodate their needs rather than them having to debrief you on the ins and outs of celiac.

Explore new foods with them

A recent celiac diagnosis may mean that your friend has to forgo some of their long-time snacking favorites. One simple way to ease this transition is to make sure they stay nourished. Make sure to keep celiac-friendly snacks on hand, join them in exploring new gluten-free foods, and expand your own palette along the way! Our selection of scrumptious staples stays fresh in the freezer, ready to toast up whenever the occasion calls for it.

Check out gluten-free innovations

Life has never been better for gluten-free snackers: new, delicious items are debuting on grocery store shelves on what seems like a daily basis. From pizza, to mac & cheese bites, to potstickers, there are plenty of ways that those with celiac can rediscover some of their favorite foods (and maybe even find some new favorites).

Set up a gluten-free zone

If you have the means, purchasing a new set of utensils, dishware, cutting boards, sponges, and pans is key to preventing cross-contamination with gluten. Label the new items, and make sure to store them separately from your other cookware in order to ensure that gluten-free meals are truly gluten-free.

Keep including them in social occasions

Though it can feel awkward to invite your friend to an occasion like a pizza party or a night out at a brewery, it would be much worse to knowingly exclude them from these social opportunities. One of the easiest ways to lend support is by maintaining normal social interactions with them. Extra credit: make gluten-free food available at social occasions, or take a few seconds to check whether the bar, restaurant, or event that you’re attending offers gluten-free options and works to accommodate guests with celiac by preventing cross contamination in their kitchen.

Check food labels, and don’t fuss

Take time to familiarize yourself with the food labels that demarcate celiac-friendly snacks; this practice makes your loved ones’ lives a bit easier, and builds trust within your relationship. However, at the end of the day, they are the ones who know how to best manage their condition; they might not feel comfortable dining at an unfamiliar restaurant or eating the food that you’ve prepared, and ultimately, that judgment is theirs to make and should be respected.

Just keep being a friend

Like in all relationships, sometimes the most meaningful action that you can take is taking the time to truly listen to the frustrations and concerns of your loved one. Even if there aren’t easy solutions to the challenges faced by a friend with celiac, lending an ear is a great place to start.