When Celiac really sucks

I’d say 90% of the time, I’m fine with having Celiac disease. Sure, it’s annoying and more difficult to eat out. Sure, I can’t partake in the Pop-Tart craze in my office. I can deal.

But there are those moments – those times when I just want to throw my hands up and say, “I give up! Just give me a feeding tube for the rest of my life and put an end to this whole ‘Eating’ thing.”

Case and point: 

Last week was a long one at work, and on top of that I offered to take a friend to the airport. At 4am. At BWI, which is an hour from my apartment and the opposite direction from my office. So I drive to the airport and figure I should just go right to the office – get in extra early and avoid driving through the city.

Hunger struck while I was driving at 5:30am like a freight train. I ran through the options in my head: try to find a 24 hour CVS, wait until the grocery store opened at 8am…

Then 30 minutes later I saw the beaming golden arches of a McDonald’s. I was getting frantic-hungry and knew they had coffee and orange juice, and maybe hash browns? Were they gluten free? I pulled into the drive thru and tried to look it up on my phone but couldn’t find an answer in time. I scanned the menu and didn’t see anything else I could get, so figured I’d just buy the hash browns and check before I ate them. At least I’d have coffee and orange juice – right?

The drive thru guy asks, “Would you like cream in your coffee? How many?” I say “Yes. Two.” I get my hash browns and drinks, and pull over to investigate the hash browns. According to McDonald’s ingredient list, the hash browns were not gluten free.


I get my blood sugar up a bit with the juice, but my stomach is growling and not happy that it can’t have the hash browns. I pull into the office thinking I’ll just stick it out until I can go to the grocery store. I’ll drink my coffee and do some work, it’ll be fine.

No, not fine.

I take a sip of my “coffee” and it’s cold. And thick…


No coffee. ALL CREAM.



Hungry. Not-caffeinated. Tired. Cold.

THIS is when Celiac really sucks.

When I just need food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, organic, or good for me. I just needed any kind of food at all and couldn’t find it.

In conclusion – McDonalds needs more gluten free options. Or there need to be more restaurants that open at 5am. And now I keep gluten free protein bars in my glove compartment, so I guess I learned my lesson.

Anyone else have a gluten-free horror story? What are your last-resort food options?


5 responses to “When Celiac really sucks

  1. Take your pic of any sandwich minus the bagel or muffin. I’ll grab a 2 for $3 Egg McMuffin. They put them on a pancake platter, and you just make sure they put the cheese between the egg and ham so it doesn’t melt and stick to the plate. Lunch time, Take your pic of a burger with no bun and ask for extra leaf lettuce to make a wrap of it. They’re pretty accommodating.

    I was picking up protein powder packets on clearance at the Vitamin Shoppe once. They were gluten free. But I didn’t realize in with the drink ones were pudding ones, and about 2/3’s of the ones I got were pudding. So after about a few weeks of being just beyond slightly symptomatic I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t figure out why. Finally noticed on the one of the packs that it was pudding and read the back. And sure enough wheat was on the list. Was cursing like a sailor since it was my own dumb fault.

    If you’re going to go for hash browns, go for Chick Fil A or a diner for real hash browns. It’s funny because McDonalds does the prep right for fries and hash browns, but they add wheat for the crisp crunch. Wendys does the fries right but don’t separate the fryers. BK does it right. But their fries are all different and McD’s is the only fast food with shoe string fries. If they eliminated the wheat, people would still come for the fries. Such a small little change.

  2. Great post. Agree with it all.

  3. I’ve been there…done that. Put on top of all that, I am also a vegetarian (was before I was diagnosed as Celiac) which makes finding a quick bite nigh on impossible. So…I totally understand.

  4. I pack food and beverage (can’t have coffee, so bring my own tea/water – if hot, in an insulated Klean Kanteen). Be careful with storing bars in the car as temps climb. My absolute favorites are Quest bars – lots of protein and fiber, very filling (some flavors at Vitamin Shoppe, cheaper by the box online once you figure out which flavors you like, you can buy assorted boxes direct from them). Other good portables – almonds or Kind bars, packets of Justin’s nut butters, bananas (fresh or freeze dried), dried apples. In a pinch, most of the pre-mixed Muscle Milk drinks you can buy at convenience stores, gas stations or other places are GF, just check label. Actually, gas stations w/ stores (esp the bigger chains) can have decent fruit options including cut fruit/veggies, bars, protein drinks, nuts and coffee and many are open 24h or at least very early/late.

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