Dear Eaters of Everything,
I remember what it was like to be you.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, I sipped my Starbucks soy latte while nibbling on a blueberry muffin, waiting for my kids to finish their guitar lessons. On shopping excursions, I picked up a fast-food salad without worrying about the croutons or the shredded cheese or the dressing with soy oil. During football games, I ate deep-fried chicken wings not once considering what else had been fried in the fryer. At movies, I shared buttered popcorn with my husband. I even munched on prepackaged cookies–without reading the label!
Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was also intolerant of people with “food issues.”
(Please don’t hate me my dear readers who have very real food issues, but it’s time I come clean.)
I, An Allergic Foodie, once rolled my eyes when my girlfriend passed on the bacon-wrapped melon appetizer because melon made her “tongue feel funny.” I believed people who were lactose intolerant just didn’t like the taste of milk. I thought my sister-in-law who ate only organic veggies and fruits and grass-fed meats was a pain in the neck. I thought my friend who was constantly running to one doctor after another for stomach pain was a little bit of a hypochondriac.
Payback is hell.
Dear Eaters of Everything, while I certainly don’t wish you any harm, someday your stomach may betray you just as mine did. I was well into my life when I developed multiple food allergies, celiac disease, and eosinophilic esophagitis. On top of that, my youngest son also developed celiac disease and my oldest son started reacting severely to dairy.
I had to learn a whole new way of grocery shopping, preparing foods, ordering out, reading labels. I studied nutrition, the gastrointestinal system, and naturopathic medicine.
As I said, payback is hell.
But as I became informed, something wonderful happened. I became empathetic to those with food issues. And that’s why I am writing to you, Eaters of Everything. I don’t want your lack of information to cause you to be intolerant to those with food-related illnesses. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Please recognize and accept that some foods make some people sick. And so, when we take ten minutes to order in restaurants, we are being picky eaters for a reason. When we eat in your homes, we are not trying to cause you extra work in the kitchen–we’re just trying to stay healthy. Sometimes, we are trying to save ourselves or a family member (or you) a trip to the emergency room. Don’t be afraid to ask us questions. We don’t expect you to know all the ingredients where allergens hide, or how to keep foods from being contaminated. We don’t mind explaining our special food needs; we want–no, we need–you to understand.
Eaters of Everything, thank you for taking the time to read this. I wish you continued good health.
An Allergic Foodie
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