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Religion Killing You? Try the Gluten - Free alternative!

Updated on February 11, 2013

Celiac Disease

If you suffer from celiac disease going to church can put more obstacles in front of you. Starting going to church a few years ago, I was asked after a few weeks if I would like to take Holy Communion, whereby you are given a small piece of bread and a sip of wine.

The main problem with Holy Communion as a sufferer of Celiac Disease is that you can’t under any circumstances eat the bread!. It does not matter if the bread has been blessed or consecrated; it is still going to make you ill. I can recommend four strategies which may or may not work for you. In 2008 most churches woke up to the fact that ordinary wafers or bread can make a celiac sufferer ill. The Church of England issued all churches with Gluten Free wafers and asked members of the congregation to advise if they needed them. They were too costly to provide for the whole of the church. There are also other wafers available that are egg free, lactose free to help those with allergies. My research indicates that the Roman Catholic Church views the situation slightly differently as in 2005 it was decided that the Host (wafer) should include some wheat. Therefore Roman Catholic communion wafers are manufactured with such low amounts of gluten that it is said not to harm the receiver. I would imagine that there would be one or two Celiac around the world disagreeing as some people are so intolerant that only a little gluten can upset them.


I have developed other strategies to deal with the problem:

Strategy one- Take the bread from the priest and raise it to the mouth, stifling a yawn or cough, deftly transfer it to the other hand. Pop the bread into the mouth of your nearby child (this will depend on the policy of your church if they allow an unconfirmed child to take communion). Relax and drink the wine, glad that no one noticed- until the day they did, which led to the next strategy.

Strategy two- Priest gives absolutely minute piece of bread, if feeling well consume, if not – drop it into pocket and find the bin when you get home.

Strategy three- OK the church had to get organised as we had another celiac in the congregation. They bought some gluten free wafers that are supposed to melt on the tongue. I was so excited to be able to take part in the communion for what it was, rather than a challenge to get through it without eating bread. Oh my! Gluten Free Communion Wafers are horrible, I assumed that they had given me cardboard rather than a wafer, it was like trying to swallow a soggy mass of cardboard so I coughed rather rapidly and grabbed the communion wine taking a large swig rather than a sip! Luckily a kind person came with a glass of water.

Strategy four- Do what I should have done in the first place. Buy a loaf of sliced gluten free bread and give it to the priest to freeze. He takes out a slice per communion and blesses it – job done!


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