I appreciate when people try to accommodate my food restrictions. They go out of their way to make sure I can eat their food, and it means a lot.
Unfortunately, some people don’t take it as seriously as they need to.
Here’s the thing: some allergies kill, some don’t. But all allergens need to be avoided.
So sure, eating beets or peanuts won’t kill me. But I’ll be pretty damn miserable for a week or more. I could have increased pain and increased fatigue, and I’ll definitely have all sorts of horrible digestive problems. So even though I’ll survive, that’s still some pretty rotten stuff that I’d rather avoid.
I’ve done pretty well in restaurants. I don’t go out to eat often and when I do, I make sure the waiter really understands my needs. So far, so good. Unfortunately, eating the food that friends and relatives prepare hasn’t gone as well. In fact, I’ve gotten sick several times. There have also been a few near misses.
A good example of a near miss was this weekend. We were having a lovely family meal. B had gone to great effort to prepare everything. He told me all of the ingredients, to be sure I could eat it. It all sounded fine except for one sauce, which he kept separate. I was thrilled. Later, as he was getting it all ready, I asked him again about the ingredients. Again, it sounded fine. Then while we were eating, someone else asked how he made it so they could copy it themselves. He ran through the preparation, and then mentioned what made it so great – the orange juice used at the end. Wait a minute, he didn’t tell me about any orange juice! I froze with food on a fork halfway to my mouth. I must have said something, because everyone looked at me. I’d already eaten several bites. Oh crap. He shook it off with, “It’s only orange juice.” I was horrified! As it turns out, it was a freshly squeezed orange, so I was ok. Store-bought orange juice would have been a problem. But he didn’t know that. He just assumed it was fine for some crazy reason. Or maybe he’d forgotten it earlier and he was trying to cover his tracks. Either way, I was really insulted. Here I thought he cared enough to work around my food allergies, and he’d left out an entire ingredient that didn’t seem important to him. This is the second time he’s done this. Once could have been a fluke, but twice is the start of a pattern that I don’t want to continue. I know he’ll be insulted when I don’t eat his food anymore, but my health is more important then his feelings.
I think that’s the important thing that so many people don’t seem to understand. My health is more important than their feelings. So if they suddenly realize they’ve forgotten to tell me about an ingredient, I’d rather they just say it than to wait and hope it’s ok. That’s happened with others who’ve cooked food that I’ve eaten. And it’s not ok. And if I say I can’t eat it, that’s not a comment on your cooking ability. It’s that I’d rather not spend the night doubled over in pain because I chose to eat something with a peanut sauce in order to keep you happy. Why is this so hard to understand?
Some of these incidents have turned out badly. I’m just thankful this last one was ok. I’m in the middle (or hopefully beyond the middle) of a bad downturn, and it’s kicking my ass. I’m pretty sure that eating the wrong foods right now would be a very, very bad move. Which is why for a while at least, I won’t be eating anyone else’s cooking.