Top 5 *Underrated* Perks of Being Gluten-Free

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, so your Newsfeed, Twitter feed, and every other social media outlet is likely flooded with gloom-and-doom reports reminding you that celiac Disease is underdiagnosed, overcomplicated, and just a downer in general. We’ll leave the scary statistics and call-to-actions up to the blogosphere. We’re just here to celebrate some of the underrated perks of  being gluten-free. It’s not always fun and games, but we live for those small victories when being gluten-free is kind of the best thing ever. Let’s run down the list of our favorite moments.

1.  You basically get entire dishes to yourself at potlucks and on holidays.

Nothing keeps your usually ravenous family away from a dish like labeling it gluten-free. Every so often, it works in your favor that your friends and family are uninformed about the gluten-free diet, assuming that every dish tastes like cardboard. Whether you whipped up something delicious yourself or your host generously provided a GF dish to share, chances are you’ll end up with a personal buffet for yourself, plus plenty of leftovers to take home. We’re not complaining.

2.  You get a ton of sympathy from friends, family, and strangers when they find out about your “condition.”

We walk among you! Since celiac disease and gluten intolerance generally can’t be detected from someone’s physical appearance, we always have the task of dropping the bombshell ourselves. Time after time, you break out the theatrics, let a single teardrop roll down your cheek, and break the news. One of the few joys of being gluten-free is switching up your sob story every time you retell it, and really taking joy in the performance. If you’re going to live with this disease, you might as well milk it for what it’s worth. We’ll bring the Kleenex.

3.  You have a built-in excuse anytime your weight fluctuates.

Whether you suddenly slim down, or more likely, suddenly gain a few pounds, you can always write it off to your gluten-free diet and dodge any uncomfortable questions. Blame it on bloat from your afflication or from unhealthy processed gluten-free products (which of course does not include our GFB Bars and Bites 😉 — either way, you’ve got a free pass. Go ahead and have that second gluten-free donut. You deserve it!

4.  You have a built-in excuse when you want to bail on an event.

“Cough, cough. I’m sick.” Cue the stomach-holding and slightly queasy facial expression. Trust us, every single person will back slowly away and ask zero follow-up questions. As anyone with celiac (or gluten intolerance) knows, these symptoms are very much a reality of daily life. However, there are some days when your stomach is up for it but you are definitely not. Next time your aunt insists that you attend her tupperware party, cash in on one of the very few benefits of having this disease: the free pass.

5.  The agony of decision-making at restaurants is largely eliminated.

Here’s a familiar scene for you. You’re invited out with friends to a great new restaurant known for their stellar menu. You sit down, alert the waiter of your dietary restrictions, and she immediately swaps out your three-page menu for a paper print-out roughly the size of a Post-it. While we’re well aware of (and thankful for) restaurants who offer a dense, delicious gluten-free menu, your everyday restaurant is likely to offer you a stripped-down, flavorless rendition of their menu’s staples. When the waitress asks, “So will that be a salad, a patty without a bun and no french fries, or just nothing at all?” Take your time deciding, we’re happy to accommodate.

What are your favorite underrated perks of being gluten-free? Let’s celebrate Celiac Awareness Month by recognizing the unexpected benefits of the gluten-free lifestyle. Let us know your top picks in the comments below!

  • Nancy B

    Hahaha! Great list. Only thing I can think of is NOT being able to order a dessert at a restaurant (since they all contain gluten). It’s like going on a diet.

    • Kathy Long Monk

      They probably taste horrible anyway !!!! hope that helped !!!!

  • laurab68

    Actually I have another. Every Friday our office kitchen is full of doughnuts, croissants and all other assorted fat and sugar filled delights. Celiac has saved my behind and hips from putting on another 40lbs for stuff I didn’t need anyways lol.

    • theglutenfreebar

      Well done. Check out the comments below from Elaine and Kathy. Very interesting.

  • August

    So true! Family birthday party last week and got a whole dedicated pan of GF pasta with cheese and sausage – I got the whole thing to myself and brought home leftovers!

    • theglutenfreebar

      Nice work August! Save some for us!

  • Kathy Long Monk

    I’ve been pretty much gluten free for about 4yrs now, I bought a box of peanut butter tasty cakes for my friend the other day,they use to be my favorite tasty cakes, needless to say I am guilty because I was planning on eating one, I did take a bite out of one and it taste horrible so I said to myself maybe there bad so I asked my friend to taste them he said they taste fine, I really don’t like this disgusting tasting food anymore I had a bad taste in my mouth for hours I started thinking I can’t believe people eat this stuff all I could taste was would it seemed like chemicals, what is the government allowing us to eat, I’ve done it for years, I wish everyone would go gluten free and If your not you should because there is definitely a difference a difference for the better, our bodies have adjusted to this junk but when you go gluten free it may take a while to adjust but believe me you won’t go back I know I won’t I have no desire at all anymore to eat this junk, the only good thing I can say about tasty cakes is Thank You for a lesson well learned I won’t think twice ever again about eating this junk food or any of the other junk they put on the market, please read the labels when you buy food, it will probably take you about 10 mins.thats how many harmful ingredients are in this so called food and I use the term food lightly ” Thank You “

    • juli

      Isn’t that crazy? I was super sensitive for a while and stuck to whole foods. I’ve tried old favorite, gf but processed foods here and there and every time it just tastes off. Like almost a greasy taste or just loaded with salt. When I ask friends, they shrug and say it’s fine (before asking if they want the rest of mine).

    • theglutenfreebar

      Great comment Kathy! Very interesting insight and something that more people need to realize (but probably likely never will). Thanks!

      • Kathy Long Monk

        Your Welcome 🙂

  • Elaine

    I’m newly diagnosed, so am still in the beginning stages of adjusting to being gluten free. I must admit, the sympathy vote is a good one! 🙂 As well as the excuse to not eat certain treats. Eating out has been challenging, but most restaurants are more that happy to accommodate my diet restrictions. I’m slowly learning what switches I can make for things like pasta. (I tend to use the asian rice noodles) I’m looking forward to the time that my old favorites don’t taste good anymore. 🙂 I do miss good bread though. I’m a home baker, made my own bread weekly and have yet to find a recipe that I like (or has been successful)

    • Teshia McCormack Shults

      Try using your fav bread recipe with GF flour that measures like reg flour. I find this works the best for breads. I had the same trouble…my daughter who has Celiacs wouldn’t eat any homemade breads until I tried this. Makes a world of difference.

    • Jeffiekins

      I also used to bake bread. My wife found and slightly modified an Oat bread recipe, (uses GF oats, of course) and it’s really nice. She makes rolls in a muffin tin because oat batter’s so much softer. It’s not a “sandwich bread” so much, but for someone used to homemade breads, it has great flavor and texture, and goes great with butter, honey or olive oil:

      Ingredients (if you’re having trouble finding: Bob’s Red Mill makes most of the unusual ones):

      1-1/4 cup warm water (110°)
      3 Tbsp Honey
      1-1/2 Tbsp Yeast
      2 large eggs
      3 Tbsp Lighter Flavor Olive Oil
      1-1/4 cup (certified GF*) Rolled Oats
      1 cup Oat Flour
      1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
      1/2 cup Tapioca Flour (also called tapioca starch)
      2 tsp Xanthan Gum
      1-1/2 tsp Sugar
      3/4 tsp Sea Salt

      * there’s a nice discussion on the Quaker Oats website (!) of why all
      commercial oats have a small amount of wheat in them, unless
      they’re certified gluten-free.

      Substitutions (note: none of these are recommended, if you want the best quality, but they all work if you don’t have or can’t find an ingredient), all with the same quantity:

      melted margarine or butter for olive oil
      potato starch for tapioca flour
      regular salt for sea salt
      any GF spray oil


      Heat the oven to 100 – 110° (ours gets there in about 60

      Combine warm water, honey and yeast in a bowl twice as big as
      seems necessary, set in the warm oven to proof (~10 mins) until
      it gets pretty foamy.

      Combine all the (remaining) dry ingredients in a mixer bowl,
      mix on a slow speed (or by hand) until they are well blended.

      Add the proofed liquid mixture (when it’s done), eggs, &
      oil. Mix at slow speed or by hand until well blended.

      Mix on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.

      Spray a (preferably non-stick, heavy) muffin pan with Crisco Extra Virgin Olive Oil spray (GF, unlike most spray oils).

      Mostly fill the muffin pan cups with batter, about 1 heaping
      tablespoon for each. Dividing the batter evenly between 12 cups
      works best.

      Put the muffin pan in the warm oven to rise, about 15 minutes,
      until the peaks of the bigger muffins are about 1″ above the pan.

      Turn the oven up to 350° and bake about 17 mins, until the
      tops of the muffins are gold with some brown.

      Remove the pan, let it sit 5 minutes, then turn the muffins
      out onto a drying rack and separate any that are joined.

      Wait until they’re room temperature (about a half-hour) to bag
      them and freeze (unless you’re planning on eating them all within 24 hrs).

  • juli

    I was super sensitive for a long time after going gf and stuck to whole foods for most of it. Like quite a few other people here, I have tried favorite – gf but processed – foods that I used to absolutely love, and every time I would notice how they tasted very off. The most common tastes I can pinpoint are a slightly greasy, very chemical, aftertaste and how everything seems to be loaded with salt. At first, I’d ask friends if something was wrong or if they tasted it as well, but they would shrug and say it was fine (before asking if they could have the rest of mine).

    It makes you think about how poorly we treated our bodies pre-gf if those chemicals tasted normal or even amazing at one point in our lives. The medical community is only just getting to the point of being able to study the long-term effects of people that have grown up eating foods with increasingly more and more preservatives and synthetic substances. Can only assume that the correlation between all that nasty stuff, especially gluten, and certain medical issues that have spiked over the past few decades will be taken more seriously as more research is done.

    For example, I realize gluten treats all of us – celiac or not – differently, but the psychological reactions a lot of us have after getting glutened is really interesting. Among many other things, the main thing that stuck out the most to me after going gf was my anxiety. Here was this condition that had plagued me for as long as I remember and it simply started fading in the first week of going gf to the point that I no longer need daily meds for it. Knowing how many people suffer from the same affliction, I can only wonder how many people would live much more fulfilling lives if they simply tried going gf for a few months.

    • Jeffiekins

      One of the “bonuses” of Celiac Disease is, often, difficulty digesting fats. Most GF “treats” (cookies, cakes, etc) make me sick because they use huge amounts of fat to get some of the texture/mouth feel they would otherwise get from gluten.

      Whenever I’m going to someone’s place, I always ask them to “please don’t get any fake gluten for me, it’s usually terrible (and terribly expensive); just real foods that happen not to have gluten, and if there’s only 2 things I can eat, of you want me to bring something, that’s totally okay.”

      It’s interesting: everyone knows what you mean when you say “fake gluten.” It saves a lot of explaining.

      One thing I’ve not seen hardly anything about is the detrimental effect of (making anything into) flour. When you make something into flour, it’s digested (and often eaten) many times faster than the food the flour’s made from would be. I can’t imagine that’s good, and it’s the same for amaranth, yucca and rice flour as for wheat flour. One more reason to avoid fake gluten, IMHO.

  • Stacey Howard Boyd

    I recently ate off of McCormick & Schmicks gluten free menu and must’ve gotten cross contaminated because I’ve been sick since that meal. I’ve lost so much weight since having this “Celiac attack”.

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