Happy celiac awareness day, people! If you have not been lucky enough to sit down with a gluten-free friend at a restaurant and seen the panic in their eyes when their salad shows up with croutons that were most definitely NOT mentioned on the menu, well, let me try to shed some light on what's going on in their minds. You see, no one likes to take ten minutes to order, but it's necessary if you have celiac disease. Because as much as you appreciate restaurants' attempts to accommodate different dietary needs by indicating gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian items on their menus, as a celiac, you pretty much have to assume that you'll get "glutened" unless you engage in a full-on When-Harry-Met-Sally-ordering session to get your order just right. And you still discover things like secret croutons.

So why the panic? Because it only takes 1-10 small crumbs of bread to make someone with celiac have a reaction. Most people are quite surprised to find out that crumbs from double dipping in condiment jars at home are enough to make celiacs sick. So croutons discreetly flicked off a salad back in the kitchen still ruin the salad for a person with celiac (I'm not saying this happens, just sayin' that's the fear). Worse, because celiac is an autoimmune disorder, these incidents put celiacs in pain in the short-term, but they increase their risk of cancer and additional autoimmune diseases over the course of their lives. Doesn't that sound fun!? Why, no. No it doesn't.


Autoimmune comic by Katie McKissick
Excited to feature a comic by Symbiartic's very own Katie McKissick! © Katie McKissick; Beatrice the Biologist

I look forward to the day when scientists figure out how to reprogram the misguided immune systems of celiac patients to prevent them from attacking normal healthy cells when exposed to gluten. In the meantime, I'd settle for a convincing gluten-free croissant and a crouton-free salad.


Every September we here at Symbiartic take the opportunity to dish up a daily dose of sciart featuring all the incredible artists we haven’t been able to get to during the year. Curious to see the inspiring artists we’ve featured in the September SciArt Blitz over the years? Check out previous years’ galleries: 2014  |  2013  |  2012