Articles by Natural Health Author Jaime A. Heidel
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10 Things People with Food Allergies are Tired of Hearing
by Jaime A. Heidel
(The Best Years in Life) I was diagnosed with severe gluten intolerance in 2002. This was back when nobody had even heard of the word 'gluten', and I had to buy almost all of my food online.
So, since I've lived with food allergies for so long, I have heard just about every question/comment on this list.
If you know anybody living with food allergies, this is what we're all tired of hearing:
Not in my case, it isn't. While gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free diets have certainly gained in popularity over the past five years, that doesn't mean everyone on them is following some kind of fad diet.
If someone tells you that they are allergic, sensitive, or intolerant to a certain food or food group, this means that said food(s) make them sick. It means their health (and sometimes even their life) depends on their strict avoidance of them.
Seriously? No. Trust me, I've already “tried” the heck out of gluten, and it has never not gotten me sick. The idea that 'a little won't hurt' is dangerous to people with food allergies because it makes people careless in the kitchen.
Cross-contamination is a real problem for people with severe food allergies. For example, somebody with a peanut allergy may go into anaphylactic shock and die if even a small amount of peanut dust gets into their food.
Someone actually said this to me once. I was floored. Even if you think you would not be able to go on living if, say, you had to give up bread/fish/chocolate, or whatever the case may be, don't say it out loud!
First of all, unless you have an underlying mental health issue going on, you would NOT jump off a bridge if you were suddenly diagnosed with celiac disease or lactose intolerance.
You would do what most humans do, suck it up and adapt.
If it wasn't that bad, I wouldn't be telling you about it.
If you eat a certain food and feel horrible and then stop feeling horrible after cutting said food out of your diet, and then feel horrible again when you accidentally eat the same food, it's not your imagination.
The symptoms you experience after eating it (hives, abdominal pain, headaches, brain fog), is your body's way of telling you that it cannot tolerate it.
Um, not it won't. Your body can build up a tolerance to a lot of things, but not to food you're severely allergic to. Someone who could die from eating one peanut is not going to eat a whole bag of them to get rid of their allergy. The only thing they'd succeed in getting rid of is themselves.
Some people seem to believe or at least tolerate someone with food allergies until the topic of cross-contamination comes up. Then, it's suddenly all too much.
Having to use separate spoons, wash utensils, and not even accidentally get a drop of the allergen onto the food!? Come on, now!
Sorry to break it to you, but taking croutons off the top of a salad or the melted cheese off the top of a pasta bake is not going to make the food safe for us to eat.
The offending food has already been mixed in, so you might as well serve that dish to someone without allergies, and make us a brand new one.
Furthermore, it irritates us just as much that we have to reject your food as it does you to have to go back into the kitchen and start from scratch. It can make us feel anxious and even guilty, even though having food allergies isn't something we can control.
That's why we are so adamant about giving you specific details before you start preparing our food in the first place.
We already feel ostracized enough as it is. There's no need to point out our differences and suggest we hide in a bubble when the food comes out.
When it comes to talking about someone with food allergies, making a comment like that is pretty much the equivalent of openly laughing at someone in a wheelchair.
You just don't do it.
Us food-allergic individuals are often seen as 'picky', 'fussy', and 'rude'. Come to think of it, we're treated like a spoiled toddler having a temper tantrum at times, and that's not cool.
If someone with a food sensitivity tells you they cannot try “even a sliver” of your famous homemade peach cobbler, they really can't! I mean, come on, the whole family knows how good it is. Why would we shy away unless we had an equally good reason?
No, I don't have an eating disorder. I just don't enjoy dealing with stomach pain, irritability, and brain fog for over a week after I've ingested gluten.
Let's say you really did suspect someone of having an eating disorder. That's a genuine psychological condition. Would you really be that blunt if you believed that's what your friend or family member was dealing with?
If so, you might want to try a little compassion.
Having food allergies is like having any other invisible condition. You may not be able to see the symptoms or the effects the foods have on us (hopefully because we're not eating them), but that doesn't mean that what we're telling you isn't 100 percent true.
Think about it this way, how did you react the last time someone told you they had asthma or heart disease? I'm pretty sure you believed them without needing to wait for them to gasp for air or drop of a heart attack.
We're only asking for the same courtesy.
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