GluTeen Free: How I go to School Dances without Feeling Awkward

By Abby Baird

I’m Abby B, a 10th grader who has had celiac disease for two years. I play multiple sports and go to a small private Christian school. I got diagnosed with celiac disease when I was in 8th grade and have had it for almost two years now. Since I go to such a small school I am the only one in the high school that has celiac disease and the only one who must eat strictly gluten-free, which is hard because many people and teachers don’t know or remember that I am gluten-free.  

One thing that is challenging is going to school-sponsored dances. Since my school is so small and I am the only one with celiac disease almost every time I end up bringing in my own food in a brown paper bag. Now I don’t know about you but going to a school dance in a fancy dress and taking a bunch of pictures with your friends while carrying a brown paper bag isn’t very fun. I mean who wants to be outshined by a brown paper bag?? Definitely not me! It isn’t easy to be the odd person out, especially in high school when it’s all about fitting in. 

This past dance that we had at my school, instead of going the brown paper bag route, I went and talked to the Dean who is in charge of overseeing the event. I let him know that I had celiac disease and that I would not be able to eat any of the provided food.  He asked me a few questions and looked at the catering menu. Then, instead of asking if I could just bring my own food, he made sure that when I got to the dance there would be special Gluten-Free food just for me. Just something as simple as talking to your school leadership and asking if they can provide food for you can work. Another option that I have done in the past is to have the food sent beforehand. One year when my school could not provide food for me, my mom made a meal for me and gave it to one of the chaperones. The chaperone, in turn, put my meal out next to the catered meal.  Come dinner time I had something that I could eat that was already all set up for me and I didn’t have to carry the infamous brown paper bag to the dance. 

It’s not easy to have a dietary issue where you are constantly having to do special things just so that you can eat. It can easily get to the point where you feel out of place. Sometimes the best option is to just talk to the person who is in charge of it and sometimes it just requires a bit of extra planning. 

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