Home Lifestyle I’ve been called an undateable ‘red flag’ because of my allergies

I’ve been called an undateable ‘red flag’ because of my allergies

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Alice would label herself a catch – yet a fifth of the UK population thinks she’s a red flag (Picture: Alice Giddings)

I honestly never thought I’d be considered a red flag when it came to dating

I’m a great date – I show up on time for dinners or drinks, I ask them questions about themselves, I never ghost people (unless it’s truly deserved) and I don’t expect people to pay for the entire bill, no matter where we go.

Would I label myself a catch? Yes. I have a successful career, great friends, I don’t live with my parents, I’m good with my money, and I’m kind and caring.

So why do a fifth of the UK population think I’m a red flag? It’s because I’m gluten free

However, unlike the people of the world who think being gluten free is a lifestyle choice, for me it’s a health condition – I’m coeliac.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease where my body’s immune system attacks my healthy tissues when I eat gluten. It damages my gut and means I can’t absorb any nutrients from the food I eat – hence being gluten free (GF).

Not following a GF diet could lead to an increased risk of cancer for me, including small bowel cancer, small bowel lymphoma or Hodgkin lymphoma, so you can see why I’m keen to avoid it.

But dating has been daunting, given the fact that a third of Brits would avoid inviting someone over for dinner if they were gluten free, according to Warbuton’s research.

A quarter would request that GF guests bring their own food (which I often do in case of a cross-contamination emergency), while more than half of Brits don’t know what to cook us for dinner.



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Not following a GF diet could lead to an increased risk of cancer for Alice (Picture: Alice Giddings)
Alice has frequently been disrespected in the dating world for being gluten-free (Picture: Alice Giddings)

I was diagnosed at 19, after being very poorly for two years, and it came at a time when I was very much single and dating. 

I’d just split up with my boyfriend of six months, so I was feeling free, happy and ready to throw myself into the scene at my university.

About half a year after my diagnosis I was flirting with a friend of a friend at the student union bar of a university close to mine. 

He was tall and handsome, with relatively good chat, until he offered me a sip of his beer. I politely declined saying ‘no thanks, I can’t’.

‘What do you mean you can’t,’ he replied, pushing his pint close to my face.

‘I’m coeliac,’ I said. I can’t drink beer.’

Whether he simply didn’t care, or didn’t understand, there was no excuse for what he did next. 

Alice has lost count of the times she’s been asked ‘What can you even eat?’ (Picture: Alice Giddings)

Placing one hand behind my head and tipping his pint, he poured beer over my face and into my mouth while saying: ‘Don’t be such a p**sy.’

I shoved him off, beer flying everywhere, and stormed off to the girl’s bathroom. Running the tap I tried desperately to rinse out my mouth, trying not to be sick at the thought of how much I’d already swallowed.

Dabbing my face and feeling violated, I left and headed home. That was the most obvious disrespect I’ve faced for simply being gluten free, but throughout my dating experiences, it wasn’t an isolated incident.

Throughout my time on various apps – like Tinder and Hinge – I would try to avoid bringing up the fact I was coeliac, but when it came time to go for dinner with a potential suitor, I’d have to fess up.

Then would follow the same generic responses. ‘Your life must be so miserable’, or ‘I think I’d just keep eating gluten to be honest’ were common.

‘What can you even eat?’ was another favourite of mine.

I’d inevitably have to book the restaurant myself because they would refuse to do so much as Google gluten free menus in London.

But I have had dates who were considerate of my needs. The sweetest in particular being my now partner, who got his coeliac co-worker to write down a list of restaurant recommendations that she had tried and tested.

He then took me to Pho – a casual Vietnamese chain which has an almost entirely gluten free menu.

Alice’s now-partner is incredibly considerate of her needs (Picture: Alice Giddings)

But once you find that special someone who doesn’t berate you for being coeliac, there’s another challenge: meeting the parents. 

Trying to make a good impression on your boyfriend’s loved ones is significantly harder when you have to list what they can and can’t cook for you, as well as how they have to cook it. 

A simple mistake can mean you can’t eat the meal they’ve made for you, and it can seem like you’re rejecting their efforts. It takes time to learn to cater to someone with a strict dietary requirement.

Sadly, despite being the one with the disease, in the dating world, you’re often the one trying to make accommodations for them when it should be the other way around.

I’m not hard to date or cook for –  it just takes a little effort.

And if you can’t do that, maybe it’s you who is the red flag.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Share your views in the comments below.


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