Don’t fake a food allergy
Faking Food Allergies Hurts Those With True Life-Threatening Allergies
In reading a blog post written by Mikaela on dietforums.com called Avoid Unhealthy Sushi (www.dietforums.com/food-nutrition/2497-avoiding-unhealthy-sushi.html), I was bothered by comments in her last paragraph that I think hurt the cause of those of us dealing with food allergies and intolerances.
“Remember you’re enjoying a cuisine [sushi] which is considered art from a very formal culture. You will find rigid chefs, who refuse to make healthy substitutions, as they see it as an insult to the culture or their body of work. Smile and ask politely. Be respectful and praise the food. As a last resort, develop a sudden ‘food allergy’ to whatever you’re trying to avoid.”
While I assume there were no ill intentions, as a member of the food allergy community, I found this last sentence quite troublesome. This is exactly the kind of statement (and behavior, if followed) that adds fuel to the fire of those who believe most diners who claim to have food allergies or intolerances just don’t like certain foods. Just read the viewer comments associated with recent food allergy articles from major newspapers like the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and others to see what I mean.
- “Having worked in restaurants, I found a lot of people used their “allergies” as a way to get special orders. If you want something that is not on the menu, stay at home and cook it yourself.”
- “But then we all know someone with a now-I-have-it-now-I-don’t allergy or dietary restriction – people who “are gluten intolerant” except when faced with fresh-baked bread, or who are vegetarians aside from the pancetta bruschetta. You just can’t plan to please those people because I think they secretly like to be displeased.”
- “I remember reading somewhere that of 100 people who claimed food allergies, only 3 show up on clinical tests. The other 97% are people for whom food restriction is a hobby and a lifestyle choice — and, most of all, a control issue, and one they try to impose on others.”
- “The latest is this so-call gluten problem. Since when have so many people had a problem with gluten?”
- “’Most people are not allergic; they just don’t like the stuff,’ he said. ‘Every so often, someone will come in with a very serious allergy, but most of the time it’s just customers who say they’re allergic to garlic yet chose to eat at an Italian restaurant,’ he said.”
The list goes on and on.
After reading Mikaela’s article, I assume that she does not have any food allergies. Whether she knows others who do or not, I cannot know. What I do know is that by faking food allergies, she and others are performing an unfortunate disservice to those of us who deal with them every day, those of us who need to know we’re being taken seriously.
Maybe Mikaela would be surprised by this reaction. Maybe others who fake food allergies would as well. What can we do? My belief is that we simply have to take it upon ourselves to educate others who do not understand the seriousness of food allergies and even “innocent” statements such as Mikaela’s. (I’m sure many of you have already found yourself in the position of having to educate others at one point or another).
What do you think? Am I overreacting to Mikaela’s post? Click on Comments below and share your ideas, reactions, or perspective.
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