Members of the Gluten-Free Community: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Kindness seems to be a hard sell these days, and it isn’t any different in the gluten-free blogging community. For years, I have said if people knew what goes on behind the scenes, they would be shocked—maybe even horrified. Many in the community believe everyone should be of one mind and anyone who disagrees or states a different opinion is subject to attack and ridicule. Why?

Having become a member of the gluten-free community more than 20 years ago, I believe in educating readers and coming together to bring about positive change. We have seen this happen with the Gluten Free Food-Labeling Summit in 2011, when a ginormous gluten-free cake was erected to draw attention to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s inaction on finalizing standards for gluten-free labeling. As a result, the Gluten Free Food Labeling Regulations went into effect on Aug. 5, 2014, which shows we can put aside our differences and work together to achieve positive results.

There isn’t any room in our community for those who are all about name calling and finger pointing. This type of behavior has a negative impact and translates to the further spread of misinformation by the media and our community’s concerns not being taken seriously.

We need to support one another. Supporting those who cater to our needs is vital to our survival. Sharing medical information and updates on products, events and restaurants is how we assist one another, and it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.

The fact is, people follow our blogs and social media accounts who don’t have celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. They may have rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease or another reason for avoiding gluten. I have heard from followers with celiac who consume beer they know isn’t gluten free, eat “gluten-free” pizza even though they know it isn’t prepared safely or allow themselves cheat days without worrying about the effects.

Choosing what to put in our bodies is always a personal decision, and no matter what information we share about the harm that unsafe foods can cause, people may ultimately make decisions that we wouldn’t. It really isn’t our place to judge; we can only do our best to keep them informed. The same can be said about manufacturers of gluten-free products. Make quality products we can support, or we will take our money elsewhere.

So, what are we as a community to do? It’s important to identify “bully” activity and take one simple—although sometimes difficult—course of action: Ignore it because nothing positive will come from any interaction with someone participating in such behavior.

Let’s all step down from our soapboxes and learn how to work together.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

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