Food allergy compassion is a delicate subject to many who suffer from Celiac Disease or other autoimmune disorders. While the general public lives their lives relatively care-free when it comes to food consumption, someone with food allergies lives in constant fear of their next exposure. They know it will eventually happen, but will the circumstances be manageable? What if they are miles away from home in a strange town, or even out locally with acquaintances. The people you are with and the people who are serving you have varying levels of food allergy compassion, and you have to be confident and aware that you must control the situation.
Scenario 1: Visiting Family Afar
Imagine you are 2500 miles from the gluten-free oasis that is your kitchen. Your kitchen equipped with pots and pans that have never touched gluten, dedicated prep surfaces and care from your live-in family, this is your comfort zone. You can make anything in your kitchen, maintain your health, and potentially recuperate from gluten exposure. But you are now 2500 miles away, and your family there is unaware that your gluten sensitivity level is code red. They are ordering take-out from a local restaurant that advertises gluten-free options, but can you trust your family member to get the order correct? Not a chance – in this scenario, you place the order, from the start by asking about their prep methods and explain the dire consequences of consuming gluten. If they hurry you or act dismissive, politely decline to eat at that location. If they’re busy prepping dozens of gluten-laced orders, you do not want to take the chance. Always be prepared by either packing a sizable snack or scoping out gluten-free carrying grocery stores in the area.
Scenario 2: The Business Meeting
Lunch meetings are an integral part of any freelancer’s regimen, and in this case you are meeting someone for the first time. Again, you are without your comfort zone, and there will be times that you cannot choose the location. How do you manage when you can’t predict the food allergy compassion at a restaurant? In this case, you will also want to bring a sizable snack just in case they offer nothing that you can safely eat. Drinks are usually okay, but if you don’t want to drink from their cups, ask if they have bottled water. Otherwise, get in the habit of taking a bottle of water and a snack everywhere you go. That way you’ll never be left starving before, during or after an important meeting.
The morale of the story is always be prepared. Living with food allergies does not mean that others who live without it will show food allergy compassion. Expect others to be dismissive, unapologetic, and uninterested in your dietary restrictions. It is up to you to remain confident in your determination to avoid gluten at all costs while maintaining a healthy balance of work, dining and social interaction.