Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Food Allergy Debate - MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!

Should I be sorry for growing increasingly tired of the gluten-dairy-free debate? Well, you know what, I'm not sorry! I'm really tired of it so there, I said it!

Every man and his one legged dog seems to have an opinion on whether or not I should change my diet to suit them and worse, they even have the audacity to debate whether or not me and people like me, are genuine. Who gave them the right to have an opinion on MY diet? I certainly didn't. 

As the mother of a diagnosed Celiac and another child with severe dairy intolerance, I have developed mysterious food allergies over an eight year period and can tell you - it's no fun. A stupid, harmless virus that left no long term ills in anyone else, affected my stomach and left me unable to eat products containing gluten or cow's milk. I have no idea why, the doctors have no idea why but eight years on, I'm gluten and dairy free and manage fine as long as nobody contaminates my food by accident. All biopsies have come back normal, so despite having a Celiac child, I am not. Nor is there any medical evidence for why cows milk makes me instantly sick. Nobody can offer me a medical reason why I have such a strong allergic reactions to certain foods; I just do. And in case you've got this far and decided I'm just nuts, I saw a counsellor in case it was in my head, but it's not. You think I haven't investigated this? Then shame on you. My body doesn't want this stuff and it won't say why.

So, without a medical certificate to wave over my head like a truce flag when I enter the debate, I must apparently sit with the 'fakers', the 'fad tryers' and the 'weirdoes'. Thanks for that.

I watched the online posts from the Irish cafe owner who banned vegans unfold across the internet like a pair of badly elasticated granny-knickers. Oh dear. While I don't appreciate the way he handled himself, I'm inclined to agree with him. I ring ahead before dining out or stick to places I know sell food I can eat without getting sick. It's not fair to assume a chef will ignore the other forty regular customers to nip out to the supermarket to cater for me without prior warning. Why would I derail someone's business like that? I'm not that selfish. I regularly go out with family and enjoy a glass of wine while they eat; I want to be part of the experience so don't exclude me from that too. If I'm invited for dinner, I take something I can eat and make it big enough to share because I don't want to be a bother.

I once starved for a whole weekend at a church camp in Rotorua because the chef - who was warned about my diet a month before I arrived - didn't think I was genuine. He apologised a few hours before we departed for misjudging me, having watched as I lived off soy bread I brought myself for an entire weekend. At the time he said he was sick of catering special meals for gluten free people who poured gravy over their designer meals. Or whipped up individual portions for a dairy free person who then doused it with cheese sauce. At the time, I thought fair enough but now I DON'T!

How dare he? I PAID to be on that camp just like everyone else. Did he run around smacking people around the head because they slurped ketchup all over his shepherd's pie? NO! What gave him the right to starve me because he thought I was faking or might add something else to his meal? Isn't that my right?

Yes, I've stood at gatherings where I've been catered for. Not satisfied with their four tables of food, others do seem attracted by my tiny take away box and gravitate towards it like vultures towards a carcass. I've also watched others 'try' my small portion and leave me none. That's not nice either. If you want different then order it. And I'll stand next to you and eat mine. 

GF/DF Banoffee Pie my daughter made for me
I could eat the whole thing, but I won't.

There must have been a lot of hype because it made the NZ national news recently; that doctors are concerned by adults removing staple items from theirs and their children's diet without medical advice. What the heck? Do parents of overweight children drag their offspring to the doctor just before pumping them full of sugar-laden-energy drinks to ask if it's ok? NO! Do they give them supplements to offset the effects like most parents cutting out gluten or dairy? PROBABLY NOT! So they can obviously hurt their kids but we can't try and sort out inherent problems for ours without criticism. 

So a parent living in a nightmare and scratching around a problem at home is wrong are they? Why? 

Well, for wondering if all the crap sprayed on flour in its storage state might be making Jonny run up and down the walls at bedtime. Or if all the rubbish injected into and fed to cows might be causing his face to look like a fifty year old with shingles. They're trying to get by and solve issues, just like everyone else. They need the effort you put into condemning them to support them and make helpful suggestions. 

I want this debate to just go away. It puts people like me even more under the microscope as if it's not bad enough already. Is it fun clutching my home made salad or distinctly marked cardboard wrapper with GF/DF in neon marker pen, while someone scoffing chicken nuggets breathes all over me, asking, 

"What  happens to you when you eat gluten or dairy?" 

You think that's not bad enough? Imagine his face when I tell him. He won't be hungry for a while. And that's without mentioning the eczema, headaches or feeling poisoned for days. 

I'm over it; I'm really over it.

I don't have to justify myself to you. You get boozed up on Saturdays and eat chocolate until it runs out of your nose and I'll eat rabbit food and say nothing. Do I make you justify why you need that massive four-person lunch or the three vodkas before you go to work? NO!

You feed your kids what they want and I'll do the same, but mind your own business. You don't start a debate about what my kid's missing out on and I won't stare at the thighs on yours as it sips that sugary drink and chows down on those nuggets! 

Let's talk about something that really matters but basically, leave my diet alone! 

I made these scones yesterday for my husband who isn't GF.
I wore gloves but probably still breathed in flour particles because
today I have a sore throat and headache. That must be what happens
to fakers!

#dairyfree #glutenfree #foodallergy