March 24, 2012

What I’m Reading: March in the Free From Food Allergy World

I’ve been thinking lately about why the genuinely Food Allergic can get so annoyed and even angry at the Faux-Allergic. Yes, it’s annoying when someone ‘tells you’ what it’s like to have an allergy and how they experience the same thing as you when their ‘allergy’ is obviously an optional restriction but really why get annoyed? Sure, this person doesn’t really understand and sure, they might be making light of your potentially life-threatening problem but I think that we should focus on the benefits.
First of all, all restrictions DO have something in common, and even if your allergy or intolerance is way stronger than their slight bloating or imagined side-effects this person does understand to a degree and (importantly) respects that food can cause adverse reactions and might just be telling you the truth and actually dealing with a mild but genuine intolerance and although there are arguments saying that they weaken the cause and make the public take the genuinely and seriously allergic less serious, I think that there is another side to it. I think that there are strength in numbers and that we need numbers to make living with a food allergy, intolerance or restriction easier.
If they feel better Free From a specific food item then all the better because the more Free From people there are the more Free From foods will be produced, the cheaper these Free From foods will get and the better they will taste because companies will invest in recipe improvement.. now surely we can see through the annoyance and recognize that whatever the reason this person is maintaining a restricted diet that there is a greater cause at hand and that just like Vegetarians and Vegans, they should be equally respected. That instead of condeming we should educate them in the importance and potential dangers and that we should all join in camaraderie because every food restriction be it mandatory, elective, political or just part of a fad helps food producers see that we want better choices, helps restaurants and chefs to think outside of taste alone and helps us by making our restricted diet better.
Also, just as a side note, sometimes someone might think that they have a food allergy, and they trail through elimination diets to no avail... but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a problem.. it just might go beyond a particular food to a greater health issue... you never know.

Now, back to my original agenda: I’m scarcely getting a chance to write my own blog these days, let alone keep on top of the reading world but I did happen upon a few bits and pieces that may be of interest...

- A simple one, but one that might just become a new favourite snack! - Almond Butter, Banana & Oat Cakes
- An intriguing minty green smoothie... sounds so weird it might just be good, so you try it first and report back! - Healthy Dairy Free & Soya Free Shamrock Shake

- Possible reading for Wheat and Gluten Intolerance/Allergy suspicions, helping you decipher what’s going on and how to - Healthier Without Wheat
- A humorous little sing-along for mothers of food allergy kids fighting the battle - Hello, Muddah - Food Allergy Version
- On a more somber note some more serious parent-teacher-school-food allergic child stuff - Food Allergy Resources for Schools
- Has anyone tried eating Food Allergy Free here? Sounds awesome for Vegetarians and a good chance of awesomeness for Vegans too! - Thornton’s
- Tune in to ‘Free From Foods’ on the radio - here

- Daily Beautiful food - simplybreakfast
- A bit heavier than lovely food but still quite visually appealing - A Hard Trek to Humility

- For those of you who don’t know, goats are my all-time favourite animal. Therefore, ‘Goats on Stuff’ is definitely a favourite blog.. so cute.. and seriously, what is with goats?! they’re hilarious - Goats on Stuff
- A cool little project-based site worth keeping an eye on if you’re into design and what-not - Make An Object a Day

Happy Weekend and hope you get out and enjoy that glorious day!!


Alex Gazzola said...

I totally agree that everyone should have the right to decide precisely what goes into their mouths, and what should not – for whatever reason – and also agree with all you say about increased choices and greater free from food options with the burgeoning interest in the field.

I once read about a chef who said he thought not everyone in catering takes allergens seriously because some diners who, for example, say they’re intolerant to gluten order, say, a GF starter and GF main course but then an ordinary gluten-containing cake for dessert, because they can manage a few mouthfuls and it’s a special treat. I think that sort of thing creates problems.

People for whom food restrictions are an issue or choice should be aware of all other ‘levels’ of restriction and avoidance. The lifestyle gluten avoider, who has every right to avoid gluten, in an ideal world should be aware of every degree of gluten avoidance, and the seriousness of the condition for coeliacs especially, and be careful not to give the impression to people with less knowledge that it is somehow optional or that you can be cavalier with the restriction.

How do we make the lifestyle avoider aware of all these levels? Well, that’s the issue. We can say ‘education’ but not everyone wants to be educated or even cares…

Aurea@Survival Guide said...

Hi Alex,
Thank you so much for your in-depth comment! And yes, I totally see the other side and have actually many times been one of the people who can get very annoyed, having lived with a very real lifelong dairy allergy and having to listen to people tell me what I can & can't eat, or not taking me seriously, or serving me a 'dairy free' dessert with a side of ice cream or, my favourite, on airlines when they give me flora margarine!...

but allergies and intolerances are confusing and personal by nature and therefore all the more confusing to outsiders and it's such a shame that that happens.. but you've hit the nail on the head - how can we 'educate' them. And I don't really know the answer to that..

but then I look at the coeliac societies and the work they've done. I know that the Irish Coeliac Society has spread the word and the importance in leaps and bounds and has really changed dining as a coeliac in Ireland.. and I think of how marketing can make people believe almost anything...Can't we do the same for our cause? ..

There will always be silly people who do more harm than good and there will ALWAYS be people who just don't care enough to even try to understand (grr!!!) and then there are the others who intentionally refuse to understand....but these things take time and I do believe (or rather hope!) that at least some of the battle has been fought with lifestyle avoiders (great term!) as long as we don't let up??

Alex G said...

Education probably has to start at school, as part of a broader teaching of food and food culture. I don't know about Ireland, but I think we have a generation of young people who are food illiterate in the UK, and I don't see why in theory food hypersensitivities couldn't be taught - even if only the basics - as part of a food curriculum.

Aurea@Survival Guide said...

sometimes I think that we have a few food illiterate generations!

But education in schools is exactly what we need as long as they teach it properly ..which reminds me of the food pyramid we were taught in school and how Dairy had quite a large portion because the dairy board 'bought' it and even junk food had a portion, lest anyone get upset.... it all sometimes makes me want to be a hermit in the hills, away from all the corruption!