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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

According to the literature of Classical Greece, the line the divided the civilized from the barbarians was if a people “ate of bread”. What defined “civilization” was the practice of agriculture and most specifically the cultivation of wheat. The phrase, “breaking bread”, became the epithet for social gatherings as well as the invitation to celebrate or deepen a connection over a meal. Yet with gluten intolerance increasing among the population, “breaking bread” with friends and family can be a social quagmire.   


What is Gluten?

Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley. Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is by far the most commonly consumed. The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin, which is responsible for most of the negative health effects.


How Can Gluten Intolerance Affect Our Social Lives?


If you have ever spent time with someone who suffers from Celiac’s Disease or Gluten Sensitivity, the running joke is, “There is no such thing as ‘grabbing a bite’ to eat”. Those whose digestive systems can process gluten, we do not even bat an eye when deciding where to eat. When meeting up with our pals or coworkers, the only concern we have is what type of cuisine we are in the mood to enjoy. Be it pasta, pizza, or sandwiches, gluten pervades the ingredients of many entries.  We forget that out of the hundreds of places to dine, very few menus lists gluten-free options or substitutes. Sadly, your gluten intolerant friend sits with plain rice and tap water at the table in isolation while the rest of the group enjoys a tasty carnival of specialty pizza.


Having To Say “NO” To The Well-Intended  

Our friends and family mean well when they take the time to prepare gluten-free treats or entrees for us. However, often these gluten-free eatables are prepared in a non-gluten free kitchen and cross-contamination is guaranteed. The trouble is finding the right way to politely decline their heart-felt offering without coming off as unappreciative or neurotic.


Dating Made More Awkward

First dates are the worst and gluten intolerance does nothing to ease the initial roughness if you and your new date end up at a place that is a gluten-topia. Your mind debates whether or not to inform your date of your health condition; would it give the impression that you are demanding and inflexible? Questions like this plague your consciousness simply because you do not want to make a situation harder than it already is or to make it seem that everything is about you.

Further, what if you both hit it off well and your gluten-consuming date goes in for a kiss? Should you stop them and ask them to brush their teeth before you lock lips?


Becoming Tolerant of the Gluten Intolerance

Having to abide by a restrictive diet for the sake of our health and physical well-being is in no way a reason to restrict ourselves socially. The ubiquitous nature of gluten in restaurants, kitchens, and food products does not require those who suffer from gluten intolerance to under house arrest. Instead, is an opportunity to be compassionate to our friend or family member. By honoring the physical health of another and being less preoccupied on what or where we can eat or cook, we refine our social consciousness and we build healthier relationships. That is the true essence of becoming “civilized” and “breaking bread”.