Gluten-free people may struggle to find love due to others assuming they are ‘high maintenance’.
More than 40 per cent of people would be reluctant to date someone who avoids the protein, found in wheat, barley and rye, a study found.
Regardless of whether people are intolerant to gluten or not, cutting the protein out makes others assume they are selfish, demanding and difficult to please.
Gluten-free people may struggle to find love due to others assuming they are ‘picky’ (stock)
In the first study of its kind, researchers from Western Connecticut State University asked 161 adults if they would date somebody who is gluten free.
Participants expressed some hesitation about dating a gluten-free individual.
A further 132 people took part in pretend online dating, where they were told to ‘imagine going on a first date with an individual who discloses adhering to a gluten-free diet’.
They were then asked to rate their hypothetical date on factors such as how kind, mood, picky and feminine or masculine they imagined they would be.
Results, published in the journal Appetite, suggest 44 per cent of people perceive those who are gluten-free as being high-maintenance.
Some 31 per cent assume those who follow a gluten-free diet are picky, while 14 per cent judge them as being selfish, demanding, arrogant and difficult to please.
Others describe them as being complaining, critical, judgmental and controlling.
And when it comes to dating, nearly 10 per cent of people worry their gluten-free other half would judge them based on what they eat.
WHAT IS COELIAC DISEASE?
Coeliac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder in which gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.
Gluten provokes inflammation in the small intestine which affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food.
The condition is estimated to affect one in 100 people worldwide.
One percent – or three million Americans – are living with coeliac disease.
There are more than 200 symptoms of coeliac disease but the more common ones are:
- Abdominal bloating and pain
- Chronic diarrhea
- Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
- Weight loss
The only treatment for the disease and is a strict gluten-free diet.
Only foods and beverages with a gluten content less than 20 parts per million are allowed.
Source: Celiac Disease Foundation
But six per cent of people think gluten-free eaters are understanding and three per cent also assume they are happy, energetic and self-disciplined.
The study also found those who follow a gluten-free diet are deemed to be more feminine.
This may be due to the eating plan being thought of as good for the body, with many also believing women are healthier than men.
Some participants claimed they would be more understanding if a person cut out gluten due to an allergy rather than just because they were following a health trend.
According to the researchers, future studies should investigate whether a person would eat gluten to make themselves more attractive to daters.
This could have negative health consequences for those who are allergic or intolerant to the protein, they warn.
Around 1.7 million people in the US and one per cent of the UK population are diagnosed with coeliac disease.
If a coeliac sufferer eats even a small amount of gluten, they can endure abdominal pain, constipation and flatulence.
The condition can even lead to infertility and cancer if a patient continues to eat gluten over the long term.
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment.
But 2.7 million people in the US follow a gluten-free diet even though they are not intolerant to the protein. Statistics for the UK are unknown.
This is largely due to them wrongly believing the protein is unhealthy.
This study comes after scientists from the University of Chicago last year edged one step closer to developing a coeliac vaccine.
They discovered the disease may be caused by the common but harmless reovirus rather than genetics.
They said children are commonly infected with the reovirus around the same time that gluten is introduced into their diet, which could trigger the condition in genetically-predisposed people.