Celiac Counsellor Sherry Scheideman Talks Romance

Starting up a new romance is nerve-wracking – our insecurities (Do they like me?) and neediness (Am I attractive enough?) flare up, and we try hard to make a good impression.


Sherry Scheideman, Celiac, M.A., Registered Clinical Counsellor

  • Celiac Counsellor’s Corner* is a place where Sherry Scheideman, M.A., Registered Clinical Counsellor, responds to your questions about the emotional and social issues that celiacs face. Diagnosed with celiac disease herself in 2001 in Victoria, BC, Sherry draws upon personal experiences and a Master’s Degree in Counseling to support you in transcending this ‘life transition’ and turning it into an opportunity to live your best life – ever.


Celiac disease makes this even harder. We’re dressed to kill, and would rather not grill the waiter about possible cross contamination, but if we don’t, we might end up at the night club or back at our date’s place with digestive upset, or so bloated that our little black dress or fine suit fits like a sausage casing!

celiac disease romanceIt’s hard to reconcile Romance with closely scrutinizing the Allergy Menu, refusing to eat anything but a cherry tomato at our date’s friends’ house, or carrying leftovers on a carefree day trip in case no GF food is available.

The fear of being rejected is a powerful thing. A celiac friend told me she ate regular pasta on her first few dates because she didn’t want to make a fuss about being gluten-free. She thought the pain of gluten poisoning was preferable to the risk that this cute guy would judge her as flawed or problematic for having celiac disease. When she finally got too ill to pretend any longer, she was afraid he wouldn’t respect her when he found out she’d been deceiving him.

When I was just getting to know the person who is now my partner, he found out about my celiac disease when I bumped into him as I was dodging my office’s Christmas lunch. I explained to him that I had a disease that made it impossible for me to safely eat at the restaurant my co-workers had chosen. (I had suggested the one place in town that was safe for me at the time — a health food joint – but the person who made the reservation booked a pasta place because she wanted “a fabulous Christmas lunch, not seeds and leaves!”) My soon-to-be-partner was endearingly appalled at this scenario, and went to great pains to find me a lunch AND a gluten and dairy-free chocolate that was so authentic, I cried.

In romance, it is tempting to do whatever we can to make a good impression, even if it’s not a true representation of who we really are. Celiac disease, however, encourages us to be honest by giving us terrible health consequences if we pretend we don’t have a restricted diet. This gives us great practice at being straight-forward about what is true for us, even if it’s not particularly attractive.

When we show who we really are, and someone accepts that, we know they are accepting us — not some fake person we are pretending to be.

We also know that the person is willing to exercise patience and tolerance, and even adjust their lifestyle in complicated and unknown ways to be with us. Wow. That’s powerfully romantic.

On the other hand, when we show who we really are, and someone cools off, that’s good information. Why would we want to hang around with them? We can wish the person well, and move on.

Either way, when we show who we really are, we win.

Thank you, Celiac Disease, for pushing us to dare to bring our real selves into relationships.


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“Life happens! Why not love it?”

“Being diagnosed with celiac disease and going gluten-free has challenged me to develop inner resources that I never knew I had, and I’m grateful for that. As a counsellor, I love to help other celiacs find their own gifts within the challenges of the disease, and to facilitate healing. Why not let your celiac disease motivate you to be your best self?”

    • *Information and perspectives provided in Celiac Counsellor’s Corner are intended to provide general information, without independent verification on the part of The Celiac Scene for the accuracy of the information provided to it. The information is specifically not intended to be a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by your physician or other health care professional. You should always consult your own physician or other health care professionals about any medical questions, diagnosis, or treatment, especially before trying any diet. The Celiac Counsellor’s Corner does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on any content contained herein.